Canadian resume making tips and job interview tips

Resumes for Canadian job search

If you want to find work in Canada you have to have a good resume. Contacting Canadian employers without sending them your resume (and preferably also your cover letter and video introduction) is just waste of time. Canadian employers expect that you send them an up-to-date resume.

Here are some important points about resumes:

Purpose of the resume

You use your resume (and cover letter and video introduction) to secure Skype or telephone interview. Do not expect a job offer without going through the face-to-face job interview with your potential employer.

Resume is not a CV

Although resumes and CV have some similarity you should understand they look different and Canadian employers expect that you send them a document which is in Canada called resume. Canadian job seekers use certain type of resumes and it is in your best interest that you follow the same format when you contact Canadian employers.

Format of the resume

Canadians use three types of resumes: chronological resume (when emphasis is on your work experience), functional resume (when job seekers do not have impressive work experience so they showcase their skills instead), and third type is combination of the first two.

You as a foreign worker will use chronological resume most of the time because if you don't have relevant work experience in the occupation in which you seek employment chances are you will never get a job offer from a Canadian employer.

These are main sections of a good resume:

  1. Your name and contact information - you should clearly and prominently indicate your name and your e-mail address, telephone number and link to your video introduction if possible. There is no need to write your address, date of birth, marital status etc.
  2. Objective - clearly indicate what type of work you are looking for. For example you can put "Seeking position as a restaurant cook".
  3. Summary of skills (and education, if applicable) - in 3-5 bullet points highlight your work experience and relevant skills (chances are your employer will read this first).
  4. Chronological list of work experience - list your work experience starting with your most recent job using this format: Time, Company name, Position title, Job duties.
  5. Education - Indicate which educational programs you have completed and type of diploma, degree, certificate you earned. Also indicate how long you studied.
  6. Accomplishments - indicate relevant awards, promotions, successes in your career so far. If none are worth mentioning skip this section.

There is no need to end your resume with "References available upon request" since that is understood without writing it.

Your resume should be no more than two pages long! Make sure your resume does not have grammar or spelling mistakes.

One size fit all - does not work for resumes!

Unfortunately you CANNOT prepare only one version of the resume and use it to apply for all jobs even if those job postings are for exactly the same occupation.

You will have to tailor your resume according to requirements of the job which is available and also you will take in consideration what kind of employer posted the job (big company, small company etc.)

If you need someone to help you prepare a good resume feel free to contact Marija or Sanja [LINK].

File type of the resume

It is recommended that you send your resume in PDF format. That way Canadian employer will be able to open your document without much problem. Using formats like RTF, TXT, ODF etc. is not recommended.

Other technical considerations

  • E-mail address - most likely you will send your resumes through e-mail. Make sure your e-mail address looks professional. If your name is John Smith ideally your e-mail address will be something like rather than
  • File names - name your resume and cover letter files appropriately: john_smith_resume.pdf looks much better than newresume2011.pdf when you apply for a job in 2017, for example.
  • File hosting - send your resume directly to your potential employers - do not upload them to Google Documents, Dropbox etc. because chances are employer won't be clicking on any links in your e-mail (that is the best way to get their computer infected with malware).
  • E-mail subject line - In the subject line of your e-mail (as well as in the body of the e-mail message) clearly indicate what is the position that you are applying for (title of the position). It is not good idea to assume that employers advertise only one vacant position at a time: it is quite possible that they have two or three advertised positions so when they receive your e-mail they should be able to decide quickly where your resume goes. If they cannot figure it out chances are it will go into spam folder.
  • Multiple recipients - Do not send e-mail messages with resumes attached to more than one person at a time. Ideally your e-mail will be addressed to a concrete person. Sending e-mail to a generic e-mail address without knowing who will read it is ok too however it looks really bad when employers see that their e-mail address is just one among 20 or more other e-mail addresses in the CC field of your e-mail message.
  • Application by proxy - It does not look very good if employers see that, for example, your wife (or husband) is using her e-mail address to apply for a job on your behalf. It is very likely your employer won't give priority to that resume. I have seen several of those, just in case you wonder if that was possible or not.
  • Social media and Google search - Type your name into Google search box and see what will come up. Will the search results help or impede your job search? Use your friend's or your wife/husband's Facebook account and see what they see when you search your Facebook profile. Are any inappropriate pictures publically visible? Any publicly visible comments which could work against you if/when your Canadian employer checks your Facebook profile?

Job interviews

Job interview is a big deal. If/when employers decide to speak with you (via Skype or over the phone) that means they are seriously considering hiring you (or applying for LMIA for you). That means they were impressed by what they saw in your resume, cover letter and video introduction.

Why employers interview job applicants?

Canadian employers want to find out if:
  1. You have the skills and experience for the job
  2. You have so called "soft skills" to do the job (you work well with others, you are motivated, you are communicating well etc.)
  3. You will stay on the job long enough so it is worthwhile hiring you (you won't leave their company after only a couple of months working there so that they have to go through the whole process all over again).

It is extremely important that you understand what is it that employers want to know about you (the three points described above) so that all your answers are aimed at confirming at least one the three points. For example they may ask you "Why did you leave your last job? You will tell them the truth of course however the answer will be presented in such a way that you tell them also about your skills and qualifications for the job and/or about your soft skills and/or reassure them that you won't leave their company soon after you get hired.

Always keep this in mind: Canadian employer will not hire you only because you are a nice person, they won't hire you because economic situation in your country is bad, they won't hire you because they are concerned about the future of you and your family etc. They will hire you if they believe your will bring profit for their business. Plain and simple. It may sound cruel but it is true: if your employer agrees to pay you let's say $2000 per month they expect that you bring their company at least $2100 per month. This is very important information for your job interview: tell your employer what you can do for them, do not explain how will that job benefit you and your family.

Why employers hire (or don't hire) any of the applicants?

The answer to this question is very simple:

  1. Canadian employer will hire you if your qualifications look good on paper (your resume is appealing enough to secure job interview for you), and
  2. During your job interview you communicate very well to the employer that you are the right person to fill the vacant position.
That is all. As you can see it is extremely important that you prepare well for your job interview.

What kinds of questions will Canadian employers ask?

Canadian employers may ask many different questions in order to gain information regarding the three points described in the paragraph above.

Normally those questions fall into one of these three categories:

  1. Questions about concrete situations from your past work experience (for example they may ask: "Can you tell me about a situation when you successfully resolved conflict with your co-worker?"
  2. Hypothetical questions about something what may happen in the future (for example they may ask you: "Let's imagine your supervisor asked you to work overtime on Friday afternoon, what will you answer?"
  3. Questions about something they found in your resume or cover letter. For example they may ask you to explain why there was a 2 year break in your work experience (they want to know if something out of ordinary happened during those two years).

Your credibility

There are many web sites and many books which will give you the list of most frequently asked questions in the job interviews. I will mention just a few of them here. For example: Tell me about yourself. Why do you want to work for our company? Why would we hire you and not someone else? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your plans for the future? Why do you want to move to another country? Why do you think you will like life in Canada?

It is impossible to predict what exactly will your employer ask you in the job interview however if you always keep in mind those three points mentioned above you should feel reasonably confident that your answers won't work against you.

Since most foreign workers do not speak perfect English (or French) it is important that you practice answering some of the potential questions however do not memorize and then recite your answers like a robot because such answers will do more damage than good.

They will negatively impact your credibility. In other words your potential employer may not fully trust what you were saying if your answer sounded like a memorized text.

What you should do is to identify THREE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS that you can offer to employer and then practice how to express what those three skills are and how they will benefit your employer if they hire you.
Use the following format: Describe the situation when you used that skill, then describe what you actually did and finally describe what was the outcome.
For example if you are a truck driver and you tell your employer one of the three most important skills that you offer is your ability to fix some technical problems on your truck without need for a mechanic your answer could sound something like this:

"Last year I was on the way from City A to City B and soon after departure part X broke down in my truck. I just happened to have a spare part and I replaced it myself within a couple of hours. The goods I was transporting to City B were delivered on time." Of course you would use only truthful information.

Skype interview - practical tips

The following are some practical tips that you can use to prepare yourself for your Skype job interview:

  1. Skype user name - make sure your Skype user name looks professional.
  2. Camera, speakers and microphone - make sure your webcam, speakers and microphone work properly. If possible use standalone microphone and speakers rather than headphones with attached microphone (you don't want to look funny with some huge headphones on your head during your job interview). Small earpieces instead of big speakers are also ok however try to avoid huge headphones.
  3. No interruptions - arrange everything with people who live with you ahead of time so that no one interrupts you during job interview (you do not want your kids run around while you speak with your potential employer).Also close all other applications on your computer, you do not want distractions from your Facebook messenger etc.
  4. Your appearance - make sure you look presentable: put on clothes which are not casual, check your haircut and overall appearance and make sure you look like someone who cares about the outcome of his/her job interview.
  5. Lighting and background - Make sure lighting in the room is not too strong or to dim. After you ensure you look presentable doublecheck what will your employer see behind you - keep in mind everything we see conveys a certain message, either good or bad. Make sure what is in the background is either neutral or it works for you.
  6. Practice run - one hour or so before your job interview speak with your friend or relative on Skype and practice your answers to the questions you anticipate. This will help you be more relaxed during your job interview and also it may help you fix something that you might have not noticed. It is ok to have note somewhere on the desk in front of you but try not to rely on the notes too much.
  7. Relax - Try to be relax as much as possible during your job interview. Smile when appropriate, look into the camera instead of computer screen that way it appears you are making eye contact.
  8. Have measure - When answering questions make sure your answers are not shorter than 20 seconds and not longer than two minutes. If you have more to say at two minute point you may say something like "I will be happy to tell you more about that if you are interested" and leave it to the employer to decide. Overall try to balance speaking and listening so that you speak approximately 50% of the time and that your employer speaks approximately 50% of the time. When you contact Canadian employers tell them you won't take more than 20 minutes of their time. After 20 minutes of your job interview tell them you are aware 20 minutes have passed however you will be happy to answer any additional questions if they have time.
  9. Ask questions - at the end of the interview or towards the end of the interview or when your employer invites you to ask questions feel free to ask questions, however make sure those are the questions that cannot be answered by visiting employer's web site or using Google search.
    Keep in mind: after the job interview you want the employer to feel you are credible/believeable (all those good things you said about yourself are true), likable (you have "soft skills" that they need), memorable (chances are you may not be the only person they will interview - you want them to remember you after a couple of days or weeks).
  10. LMIA Application - explain to the employer that you understand they have to apply for LMIA and that process is fairly complicated and time consuming. It may work to your benefit if you tell your potential employer that you are in contact with a Canadian Regulated Immigration Consultant (for example Milorad Borota can help your employer with their LMIA application). Many Canadian employers will certainly appreciate that opportunity because most of them are too busy with they day-to-day work and also they may not be familiar with LMIA application process.
  11. What is next? - it is ok to ask your employer at the end of the interview whether they will give you a job offer (apply for LMIA) or not. if they say they do not know at this time you can ask them when you can expect their decision. If they say within one week for example and they do not contact you within one week you should contact them again and tell them you are very interested in the position and you were wondering what was their decision. If their decision is negative you thank them for the interview anyways and ask them if they know of any other employers who might be hiring people with your qualifications.
  12. Thank you e-mail - whatever the outcome of the job interview might be the following day send an e-mail and tell the employer that you are thankful for the time they took to speak with you and that you hope you will have a chance to work for their company (in case they have not made their decision yet) or thank them for the interview and tell them you are looking forward to receiving positive LMIA letter from them and coming to Canada to work for their company.

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