Resume Checklist-Canada

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Caveat

Please note, this article is intended to be used in conjunction with, not instead of, the Wiki article on Canadian Resumes.

Preparation

  • Have you looked at sample North American resumes, so that you can get a general idea of their appearance?
  • Have you done everything you can to make yourself credible in the eyes of the prospective employer?
    • Have you ascertained the Canadian versions of your job titles?
    • Have you researched Canadian terminology, conventions, and spelling?
    • Have you found out how to express your qualifications in a way that a Canadian employer would understand?
    • Have you researched the company (or division or department) to which you are applying so that you understand its needs?
    • Research is essential if you are to take your boilerplate resume and customize it so that it highlights the fit between your credentials and the employer's requirements.
  • Have you figured out if a chronological resume or a functional resume would be the best one to showcase your experience?
    • Remember that a chronological resume is best suited to the person who has worked in the same occupation all along and who has progressed steadily in terms of seniority.
    • A functional resume is better suited to the person who has done a lot of job hopping, who has changed careers, or who has career gaps for whatever reason.

Resume

Contact details

  • Have you provided your contact details in the format in which the Canadian employer would have to use them if he/she needed to get in touch with you?
  • If you send an unsolicited resume, the chances are small that the prospective employer will contact you.
  • Nonetheless, your contact details must be laid out in a way that the prospective Canadian employer would understand and would find easy to use if he/she did try to reach you.

Profile

  • Have you provided a Profile (or Summary of Qualifications or Key Strengths or Key Attributes) that highlights the key qualities that you can bring to the job?
  • Have you typed the information in your Profile as a list comprised of between three and six bullets?
  • Use your Profile to draw attention to what is special about you, the attribute (or small handful of key attributes) that sets you apart from most other candidates.

Work history

  • If you've chosen a chronological resume, have you listed jobs in reverse chronological order (current or most recent job first, and then working backwards from there)?
  • For each job that you've listed, have you created headings and sub-headings comprised of:
    • your employer's name;
    • employer's city;
    • employer's province/state (if Canada/USA) or country (if outside of Canada/USA);
    • your position title; and
    • date range during which you occupied the position.
  • Have you devoted more space to your more recent and more senior jobs and less space to earlier, more junior jobs? (Remember that this is relevant only to a chronological resume. If your work experience does not lend itself to being described in this way, you may be better off using a functional resume.)
  • If you have worked for one employer throughout your career, have you broken your work history down according to the different positions you've held over the years?
  • Have you provided a very brief description of the company that has employed you in each position (e.g., a police force that serves a city of three million, a national retail chain, a factory that manufactures two million widgets a year, or whatever)?
  • Have you used verbs instead of nouns to describe your accomplishments (recruited accountants instead of recruitment of accountants or recruiting of accountants)?
  • Have you used powerful verbs instead of vague, weak verbs?
  • Have you expressed your accomplishments in quantifiable terms whenever possible?
  • Have you described improvements that you have made on behalf of previous employers? Improvements might be revenue increases, cost reductions, time reductions or solutions that you have devised for problems.
  • If you have mentioned qualities in the Profile or Key Attributes of your resume, have you backed them up with examples in your job descriptions? For example, if the Key Attributes section mentioned your dedication to quality, have you provided one or more instances in which you have improved the quality of your employer's products or services?

Education

  • Have you expressed your education and qualifications in a way that a Canadian employer would understand?
  • Few Canadian employers know what GCSEs and A levels are. Just state, "High school diploma, June 1995."
  • Abbreviations for university degrees (B. Sc., etc.) generally are the same in Canada as they are in the UK.

Volunteer work

  • If you currently are employed, have you listed only the volunteer positions that pertain to the field in which you work? For example:
    • It is safe to state that you volunteer for Professional Engineers Ontario.
    • It is risky to state that you are a volunteer coach for your child's soccer team.
  • If you've been absent from the work force for a few years, it is safe to mention volunteer work. In fact, you can use accomplishments as a volunteer to demonstrate your attributes.

Omissions

  • Have you eliminated jobs that you would not want to perform in future and that are inconsistent with most of your work history? (Examples include menial jobs that you may have performed for a relatively short time, just to make ends meet during an emergency.)
  • Have you eliminated from your resume all justifications, excuses and hints that you might feel sorry for yourself?
    • Do not explain yourself.
    • For example, your resume should not explain that, when you moved from Country A to Country B, you switched from ABC occupation to XYZ occupation because Country B had no jobs for people who worked in ABC occupation.
    • Yes, you can list the jobs (as long as neither of them is a menial job that you never want to do again), but it's not appropriate to explain why you switched from one occupation to the other.
    • If you feel as if your work history requires justifications, switch to a functional resume instead.
  • Have you stripped your resume of your dreams for the future, e.g., studies that you intend to undertake in the future but that you have not yet begun and not yet even enrolled for?
  • Have you eliminated from your resume the names and contact details of referees? (Although it is not essential to do so, it is acceptable to end your resume with, "REFERENCES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.")
  • Have you stripped your resume of personal information (age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, family details, hobbies, etc.)?
  • Have you deleted any mention of a driver's licence (unless it is essential to the job for which you are applying)?
  • Have you eliminated skills that are irrelevant to the position for which you are applying?
  • Have you deleted your Social Insurance Number from your resume?
  • Have you omited the fact that you are a foreigner and that you currently are living abroad?
    • Do not draw attention to this in your resume.
    • The prospective employer in any case will notice your foreign address.
    • Yes, it is helpful if you can share with the employer some information that makes your move to Canada (and therefore your availability) seem more concrete from his/her point of view.
    • For example, it helps if you can state that you will be visiting Such-And-Such City on Such-And-Such Date, and would be available for a meeting.
    • In most instances, however, your Covering Letter is a better vehicle for providing this information.
    • If you are authorized to work in Canada, and if you are available to start work immediately, it may be worth stating this at the end of your resume.
    • If you do mention your immigration status on your resume, keep that statement brief.
    • Express the information in a way in which a person who is ignorant of the immigration process would understand it.
    • If you have a spousal open work permit, for example, you might state, "Have open work permit authorizing me to accept any position in Canada."

Impression

  • Have you customized your boilerplate resume so as to emphasize the ways in which your credentials equip you to meet the employer's needs?
  • Have you maintained a businesslike tone?
  • Have you referred to yourself in professional terms (Administrative Assistant instead of Admin Assistant, and so on)?
  • Have you used short sentences, which make your resume easier to read?
  • Have you used bullet points to create a clean, crisp appearance?
  • Once you have settled on a resume style, have you used it consistently?
  • Have you used Canadian terminology and conventions rather than British terminology and conventions?
  • Have you "Canadianized" your spelling? (But remember that correct British spelling is still better than incorrect Canadian spelling.)
  • Have you typed all terms in full and eliminated abbreviations and acronyms?
  • Have you confined your resume to two pages? (There are very limited circumstances in which it's acceptable to submit a longer resume, but it's better to limit yourself to two pages if possible.)

Portfolio

  • Do you think that, in your field of endeavour, a portfolio of previous work would serve you well?
  • If you think that a portfolio would be appropriate for your circumstances, have you created one?
  • If you've created a portfolio, have you customized it to the specific employer to whom you are sending it?

Proof reading

  • Have you asked one or two people with Canadian experience to look at your resume?
  • Even after diligently reading up about Canadian resumes, there still may be a couple of mistakes you're making.
  • Have you proof read your resume?
  • Have you asked another person to proof read it for grammar and spelling?
  • After reading your resume umpteen times, you may miss a mistake. Another pair of eyes can be very helpful in picking up small, but important, errors.

Final publication

  • Have you formatted your resume to print on North American letter sized paper (8.5" x 11")?
  • Have you used a standard font, either Arial or Times Roman?
    • First of all, it creates a more businesslike impression if you stick to very conventional fonts.
    • Secondly, Arial and Times Roman are the fonts that behave most reliably when MS-Word documents are saved as PDF documents.
  • If you are sending your resume as an attachment to an email to a prospective employer, are you sending it in PDF format? You can download free PDF writer software from Cute PDF Writer.
  • If you are sending your resume to a placement agency (head hunter), are you sending it both in MS-Word and PDF formats?
  • If you are sending your resume by conventional mail, have you printed it on good quality, plain, light-coloured paper (white, off white or pale grey)?