Resume Tips and Tricks Every New Immigrant Should Know

Moving to Canada, one could expect a few learning curves. Finding a job in a new country can be intimidating, to say the least. The first step to getting a job is to have a good resume. Below are some of our most useful tips for writing resumes in Canada that will set you up for success.

First things first, Canada is a bilingual country of both French and English speakers. The language in which your resume is in does matter. As a rule of thumb, write your resume in the language the job description that you are applying for is in. The standard in Canada is for your resume to be two pages long. Other cultures recommend having longer resumes, however, in Canada, most employers will not even look at resumes that are longer than two pages. Being new to Canada, and having limited Canadian experience in the workforce, making your resume one page is acceptable.

Avoid writing the name RESUME at the top of the page. This takes away space for you to talk about yourself. There is no need to write “Jane Doe’s Resume”, employers are aware of what they are looking at.

Do NOT include a photo of yourself. Including a photo of yourself is the norm in some cultures, however not in North America. Unless you are applying for a job that requires a “personal headshot”, for example; an acting job, it is best to leave photos off of your resume.

Always include these points at the beginning of your resume…

  • Your full name
    • First and Last name.
    • Should be one font size bigger than the rest of the resume
  • Contact Information
    • Phone Numbers,
    • Email,
    • LinkedIn (if you have one)

In Canada, it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their gender, age, ethnicity, and other personal details. When writing your resume, make sure you do not include the following information

  • Gender
  • Age and/ or Birthdate
  • Any Personal Identification Details (Drivers Licence, Social Insurance Number, Work Permits, etc)
  • Marital Status or Relationship Status
  • Whether or not you have children
  • Immigration Status and/or Country of Birth
  • Religious beliefs and or/ Political Stances

Now getting into the bulk of your resume, which is your list of work experiences, accomplishments, and volunteer work. Every job is different and as such, so are the requirements. When deciding the order for which jobs to include on your resume, it is important to highlight your most recent previous work experience that relates best to the field in which you are applying for. For example, when applying for a warehouse job, if you had previously worked in warehouses or worked a general labor job, these are the type of work experiences you would highlight and expand on the most on your resume.

Writing the descriptions for your work experience is crucial. This is what the employer is looking at the most. Working off the above example, include the duties and/or skills that are the most transferable. If someone had proper training and was a forklift operator and was applying at a warehouse job – this is relevant information to include. The hiring manager reading resumes wants to read about work experience and skills that you already possess that can be transferred and used in their business. The best tip for understanding what type of skills the employer is looking for is to look at the job posting and see the skills list they wish their new employee to have. From that list, figure out what skills you have (soft or hard skills) and use them as describing words when writing your work experiences/ accomplishments/ volunteer work sections. It is best in these descriptions to include what you learned from the role rather than a list of your day-to-day duties.

Try your best to include your skill sets in your descriptions rather than having a separate section labeled “skills”. Only do this if you wish to highlight specific HARD skills that are relevant to the job. For example, listing that you have forklift operating experience and training for a forklift job would be extremely relevant and help benefit you on your resume.

When highlighting your education, if you obtained your education outside of Canada be sure to get an official assessment to compare your education level to Canadian standards. This will help employers better understand your level of experience and knowledge by comparing your education to standards they already know. There is an official Canadian government website that allows you to assess your education levels Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). We recommend including the assessment from the government on your resume. When stating your education, put your Post Secondary Education and highlight whatever field you graduated in. Unless High School is your highest education level, there is no need to put it on your resume, if it is, include it. This section should be short, do not make it out to be longer than two bullet points.

In Canada, it is standard to have references. References are people who the hiring manager can call and speak about you with. These people are usually old employers, coaches, managers, etc. However, they can not be family members or friends. The people you use as references should be people that can speak highly of you and attest that you will do a good job in the role you wish to be hired for. On average, have three people who can be your references. At the bottom of your resume, make sure to include the saying References available upon request, this way the employer needs to reach out to you to get their contact information. This is best, as it allows you to give your references a heads up that someone will be contacting them about you. Your references will then not be taken off guard when they are contacted and will be able to give a superlative description of you as they will know someone is supposed to get in contact with them.

The number one reason why people do not hear back from employers once they have submitted their resumes is due to spelling and grammatical errors. Everyone makes mistakes, however, when applying for a job you only have 1-2 pages to grab the attention of employers, and with this short amount of space, you do not want the hiring managers to overlook you and not consider you due to mistakes with spelling and grammar. Be sure to proofread your resume, Grammarly is a free website that allows you to upload documents and get editing suggestions. We recommend running your resume through this site to make sure your resume is up to Canadian spelling and grammatical standards.

Finding a job in Canada in this new work climate post-pandemic can be very difficult, especially for new immigrants with little to no Canadian work experience. Employers do tend to hire people who have Canadian work experiences over those who do not. If you are having trouble finding work, it is recommended to build up your resume with Canadian experiences by applying for temporary or contract jobs. These roles do not require as many or even in some cases no specific requirements other than being able to speak English. Once you have experience in Canada on your resume, it is easier to obtain the roles you would wish to get.

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Ellie W