Making your resume

This is the most important step in getting a job in Canada. If you don’t make your resume correctly, you will not be called for an interview. Many newcomers come to Canada and keep applying for jobs, but just don’t get called for an interview. And this is not because they are not capable individuals, they just don’t look good on paper. So you need to spend a lot of time of making your resume. Just doing it once and thinking that it is done would be a big mistake. You will need to invest the time again and again to modify and improve it so that it gives you the maximum interview calls.

Many companies now do the first round of shortlist of resumes with the help of resume softwares. This software is designed to picks up key skills and experiences that the company is looking for from a vast number of resumes and display the results of most suitable candidates. This way the recruiter saves time to go through resumes. When the recruiters looks at a resume, they will spend only 10-20 seconds (some studies even say a recruiter spends just about 6 seconds on a resume) to shortlist the final ones they will call for the first round interview. If your resume has to get through the software and the recruiters shortlist, it needs to stand out from the rest and compel the recruiter to call you for the interview.

Designing your winning resume

1. Start with the Job Posting

The first thing you need to do is to identify the job you want to target. Job titles that used in your home country may not be the same in Canada. So you may need to look at the job description for clearly identifying your ideal job. Once you do have found your ideal job posting, download 5-6 job descriptions of the job from different companies (If there are 2 or 3 kind of jobs that you want to target, then you will need to have job descriptions of all these jobs handy. And you may need to make a different resume for each job).

2. Finding what the job posting requires

The 2 main sections in the job posting you need to focus on are the responsibilities’ and the ‘qualifications’.  This will tell you the skills and experience the company is looking for. But before you start writing your resume, you first need to make a master job posting from the 5-6 that you have. Write down all the common points in the responsibilities and the qualifications section of each posting. And then look at the points that are unique to each posting. You will need to evaluate whether these unique points are specific to the company or if these are important to put in your master job posting.

3. Identifying the key words and phrases

Once you have you master job posting, you now need to identify the key words and phrases that the resume software and recruiter will be looking for in your resume.  The best way to identify the key words / phrases is to look for the skills the job posting is asking for. I have given some examples below where I have highlighted the key words for your reference. There may be more than one key word / phrase in one job description statement.

– Developing materials of construction design basis for the process facilities

– Planning, development, implementation and success measurement of innovative results driven integrated campaigns and demand generation programs

– Co-ordinate and perform month-end closing activities, including timely preparation of monthly financial statement

4, Drafting your achievements

After you have identified the key words, you now need to make your achievement statements. Resumes in Canada are focused on achievements of an individual and not on job responsibilities. So you need to write down your achievements that you have accomplished in each job you have had in the past. These achievement statements need to be written such that they match the key words (i.e. the requirements that the company is looking for). These achievement statements need to be as specific as possible about the results achieved. Recruiters are looking for this in resumes, so don’t be general. Also, never say ‘we did this…”, say ‘I did this…’. This resume is about you and not about the team that you worked with and the team’s achievements. Taking the above examples, achievement statement may look like:

– Developed a construction design for the new extrusion process for the company that helped increase output by 10% over the standard metrics.

– Led the development and launch of an integrated campaign for the company that helped increase leads generated by over 14% over the previous year.

– Prepared quarterly and yearly financial statements within the stipulated timeline for the company over a 2 year period to comply with the regulatory requirements.

When you make these statements, make sure they are in first person only. And start with a verb like – Achieved, Formulated, Launched, Completed, Designed, Configured, Managed, Cultivated, Spearheaded, Initiated, Analysed, Reduced, etc.

5. Using the right words and phrases

When making your achievement statements, use words and phrases that are standard industry terms. Your master job posting have these words and phrases in it, e.g. if you are looking for a sales role then you could use words like relationship management or sales force management. These are words and phrases that the software / recruiter are looking for. And don’t be afraid to use technical language and terms. The person evaluating your resume is quite familiar with the terms and is highly specialised in his/her job. Also, using the right words will demonstrate your expertise in the field and will get you shortlisted for the interview.

6. Writing your resume

This is the last step in the process. Now that you have done all the preparation, you will be able to make a winning resume. Below is an example of a format that has worked really well for me. As long as the matter is there, you can use other formats also, especially if it is specific to your industry/profession.

A good resume format to use

 Resume in Canada are only 2 pages, whether you are just starting your career or you have 40 years of experience. So you will need to be edit and cut it down to that size. Don’t try to fit in all the points by making the font size smaller or decreasing the line/paragraph spacing. Remember, that recruiters and hiring managers appreciate brevity. The only exception I have seen to this 2 page format is when applying for technical jobs where you are expected to give a lot of details of work you have done in the past. But before you break the 2 page barrier, make sure you check with peers in the industry.

When you write down your job titles, make sure they match with the ones people use here. If you job title is different from what is commonly used for the same job in Canada, modify your title in the resume. This will help the employer relate to it and also understand what you did. But when you do this, always state your real title next to the one used in Canada. If you are selected and if an employer asks for documents and reference checks, they will appreciate that you have just modified your title to explain yourself, and not to hide anything.

You don’t need to mention the country of your previous employers or educational institute in your resume. This is unnecessary information, and if the employers / recruiters needs to clarify, they can always ask you. And don’t ever mention personal details like ‘date of birth’ or ‘gender’ or your ‘SIN’ number. This is confidential information that people are very sensitive about and it fiercely protected under privacy laws.

If you have space in your resume, then you can optionally add in your ‘Hobbies and Interest’, which should have some volunteer / social work that you have done. Only add this in if they will increase the value of your resume, i.e. skills / knowledge you could use in the job.

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