The Canadian Resume Format: Tips and How To Be Successful

While having a resume, regardless of what type it is, is going to be useful when relocating to a new country, you will be more successful when your resume reflects one of the common resume types that employers see in that country. It is important to present potential employers with a Canadian-style resume when entering the Canadian jobs market. 

Resumes in Canada come in a variety of formats, but the two most popular are the functional and chronological resume. In addition,  the Canadian employer expects to see certain details on your resume — all of which we are  going to discuss more in-depth so that you can gain a solid understanding of the expectations employers have in this vast country. 

Common Resume Formats in Canada


Functional resumes are skill-based. They’re ideal for anyone who is  skilled in a trade or who has a lot of experience in a particular industry. They are  used to showcase your experience and skills in certain areas. For example, if you have  gone to school and  earned a degree for plumbing or metalwork, the functional resume format would be used to display your relevant schooling, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and any other related  jobs that you have  completed that are relevant to the trade. 

Additionally, functional resumes are also a good option for those with large gaps in employment or who have just graduated from a post-secondary institution. Many people who are changing careers also make use of functional resumes, as they’ve likely gained a lot of experience in their previous industry that can transfer into whatever industry they’re switching into. 


Chronological resumes are time-based. This means that they’re organized based on positions you’ve held.  Your most recent position is positioned at the top of your resume so that employers see it first.  

This type of resume is perfect if you’re someone who doesn’t have much of an employment history, or who has changed industries frequently. In some cases, they can also be a good option for people who have had plenty of jobs and who have spent most of their time working, with very few gaps in which they weren’t employed. 

Chronological resumes go top to bottom, starting with your most recent job and going back in time as far as you wish to go. If you’ve done a lot of switching careers and have worked at a large number of places, you don’t need to include every single job you’ve ever had. 

What is the format of a Canadian Resume ?

The following information should be included in all Canadian Resumes: 

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)
  • One sentence summarizing your work experience and objective
  • Name and location of work
    • Duration: month and year
    • Job title
    • Job responsibilities
  • Name and location of Volunteer work
    • Duration: month and year
    • Position title
    • Function/ Responsibilities
  • Education
    • Name and location of the University/ College
    • Degree/ Diploma obtained
    • Duration: month and year
  • Awards (list by award and reason it was given)
  • Hobbies and Interests (provide only list without explanation e.g. swimming, acting

Do I need a Canadian CV? 

For most jobs, you do not need a curriculum vitae (CV). CVs in Canada are mainly for academic jobs, such as becoming a professor or lecturer at a college. A CV is longer than a resume and can run into several pages, and is best avoided for interviews in the private sector.

Resume Writing Tips

Writing resumes can be challenging  — that’s why I’ve included this section. Here are a few tips and tricks that you can utilize when building your resume that will not only make the process easier but can also increase the likelihood of you landing a job with nothing more than your existing skill sets.  

Adapt Your Resume to Each Position 

Career experts around the country recommend customizing your Canadian resume for the job you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying to a customer service role, you’ll want to tailor the information on your resume to best showcase your customer service experience and qualifications. 

Now, this isn’t to say that you want to fabricate information to suit a position. On the contrary, this means that you should take a look at your job history and pick and choose which relevant jobs to include on your resume. Do the same when it comes to listing your skills, qualifications, and training — only include information that is relevant to the job posting.  

Generic resumes can still be used. However, they’re best for applying to companies that don’t have an open posting. You’d give a general resume to the manager of a store that you frequently visit if there were no active job postings there but you were interested in a position. You would give the same manager a tailored, targeted resume if there was an active position that the manager was looking to fill. 

Keep Your Resume Concise

Hiring managers receive a lot of resumes. This being said, one great way to ensure that your resume is successful in the Canadian job market is by keeping it concise and short. While resumes should be limited to one page, they can be up to two pages depending on the level of education and the experience of the individual. It should never exceed two pages in length. 

The resume lets employers quickly find and take in the important information, as well as entices them to take a deeper look. Why? It’s simple — long resumes which are longer than two pages are less likely to be thoroughly read or even considered at all. 

Include Volunteer Positions

Where an individual does not have a lot of related work experience, volunteer work demonstrates your willingness to gain much needed experience and is valuable to include on your resume. Not only does it fill employment gaps, but it also gives potential employers the impression that you’re hard working and have a good work ethic. In addition, volunteer work is a good way to gain experience in a variety of fields, as there are volunteer opportunities across an array of industries at any given time. 

If your volunteer work is related to a potential job, showcasing the volunteer experience on your resume will work in your favour. This is especially true if you don’t have any working, paid experience in the field you’re looking to enter into, as your related volunteer work shows some level of existing experience. 

Canadian Work Experience

Coming into Canada, employers will generally require some basic Canadian work experience because what a job applicant learns in their home country could be vastly different from what they are expected to know in Canada. In some countries it is accepted that discrimination occurs on many levels whereas in Canada it is not allowed. Also, in Canada, all employees are required to have some understanding of what is and is not acceptable in terms of health and safety. 

While getting Canadian work experience without a paying job can be very difficult, it is suggested that potential job applicants consider volunteering in the industry to get that experience by suggesting to a prospective employer that you would be willing to volunteer. This demonstrates both your enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

Format Using Appropriate Headings 

The same way that long resumes are difficult to read, so are resumes that aren’t formatted correctly. An easy way to ensure good formatting is by making use of subheadings, which serve to break up the text and to shed light on important sections of your resume. 

A resume that doesn’t include appropriate and clear subheadings can look cluttered and disorganized, which can lead to key information being glossed over or missed entirely by potential employers.

Canadian Resume Samples

A popular one that is seen across many hiring managers is a modification of this template from

Depending on your preference, you could go with a resume like one of these:

Most common mistakes made by International Resumes and Applicants

In Canada, the Charter of Rights prohibits any employer to discriminate against any job applicant for a number of reasons. As such, the following information should never be included in any Resume or application letter:

  • Age
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexual preference
  • Marital status
  • Disability
  • Photograph
  • Son of, daughter of, brother of, sister of, etc


Canadian resumes have a distinct format, and following a format familiar to interviewers could increase your chances of being called for an interview. There are some common mistakes made by international applicants, and looking out for these can help boost your job application.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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