Top tips for preparing your Canadian CV

A well-written CV and covering letter are essential to your application for employment. Imagine yourself as a salesperson selling your most important product – yourself!Working In Job Tools

CV checklist

  • Keep it simple - use a simple program such as MS Word. Most Canadian companies prefer CVs submitted electronically. Create your CV in a common program such as MS Word so it can be easily opened and read by recipients. Use a size 10-12 basic font, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Use plain, everyday language and avoid long elaborate sentences. Avoid highlights, fancy fonts or anything potentially distracting to the employer. Many Canadian employers prefer to use online application forms. If this is the case, take the information provided in your CV and submit it through the employer’s online form.
  • Keep it brief. A Canadian CV is typically only one page in length with a single page covering letter. Sometimes this isn't possible, but don't let it creep above two or three pages. You need only include the last three or four positions held.
  • Make sure you include... your name, full mailing address, contact phone numbers and email addresses and a brief summary of your employment history. Most commonly it is only the last three to four positions held, or your positions held within the last three to five years. These should be listed in order of most recent to least recent. List any education you have such as university or trade skills. This is normally listed as degree name, year earned and a brief summary (one to two sentences is sufficient). Your age, gender, religion and marital status do not need to be specified. It is against Canadian law to request these things or discriminate against hiring you because of any of these things.
  • Provide a brief background to UK companies. Remember that employers in Canada may not be familiar with many UK companies. It is sometimes useful to provide a brief overview of your employer’s business including industry sector, what they do, and company size.
  • Do not leave gaps in your CV. If you took a year out, carried out an interim assignment, or travelled for six months, say so, or potential employers may suspect the worst.
  • Include a link to your own website if you have one. If you have your own website profiling your work, include the URL on your CV; however, do not simply submit the URL address instead of a CV.
  • Remember to spell check your CV. This is the first impression your potential employer will receive of you, so take time to get it right. Errors will be a turnoff to a potential employer, as they show a lack of detail and thoroughness.  Ask someone to proofread your CV to check for any spelling, layout or typos – don’t rely on your spell check alone.
  • Attach your CV to an email. Don't paste the text into your email programme where it could be distorted.

Cover letter checklist

Cover letters are an unique selling tool when approaching a prospective employer directly, and are vitally important to applications sent by overseas candidates. This is your chance to capture the attention of a Canadian employer and demonstrate the qualities that set you apart from other applicants:

  • Keep it brief. Your cover letter should ideally not exceed one A4 page, well spaced.
  • Be clear and concise. Use strong verbs that demonstrate action and accomplishments, for example ‘organise’, and ‘supervise’.
  • Find out the details of the contact person. Most wanted ads include this; if they do not, call the employer to find out this information.
  • Think about the structure. You letter should include an introduction and identification of the position (for example their reference number used in the job advert), relevant qualifications, and a summary of how you meet their core skill set.
  • Address the employer's essential criteria/core skill set. Identify your skills, experience and attributes that match the employer’s essential criteria. What makes you the best possible application for this position and why should they hire you as an employee? What are your qualifications for this position? Keep it brief as they have the CV to refer to for further information. Look for keywords (e.g. team player, flexible, outgoing, dynamic) that reveal what attributes they are looking for. If you can demonstrate that you meet the essential criteria, you will greatly increase your chances of an interview.
  • Proofread it properly. Have a trusted friend or colleague review both your CV and cover letter prior to submission. It's vital there are no errors if you want to be taken seriously.
 
 

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