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It is very true that as a migrant, one of the first and greatest cultural shocks is having a resume that calls Human Resources attention. You will find as I did that they are like divas, even if you are over-qualified and asking for much less money than expected, you may be ignored if your resume does not fit the criteria. HR people are lazy, they will not read long resumes instead, they just scan for the keywords someone told them. Another thing you will find odd is that in Canada, at least, you will need to do a specific resume for each position you want to apply. A general resume will not give you the results you are looking for.

Fortunately for me and for many of you (if you follow my blog), I have found two books that I couldn't help it when I read the title. The one I will talk about is the third edition of the Best Canadian Résués from Sharon Graham. I will put here some notes and texts from the book.

Before You start writing your Resume

Uncover your Qualifications

You need to know yourself. In other words, do a list of what you are bringing. Some areas you might need to develop are:

  • background
  • areas of expertise
  • exclusive value
  • style

Understand your Target

The main objective here is you need to understand the needs of the employer rather than showing what you are good at. With your defined qualifications, you will need to look for those jobs that fit your profile rather than do a wide search and start shooting everything you catch.

When You write your Resume

Your Contact Information

You will need to put at least the following information:

  • full name
  • phone numbers with area code
  • e-mail address

You can optionally add these:

  • link to your blog, website, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account if pertinent
  • city where you are if pertinent

Many HR may disqualify you even if you clearly state you are willing to move for the job. It is a good idea to get a Canadian phone number from the city you are targeting. If you do not know how to do this, you can give me a call, I can provide an affordable number.

Please do not include any of these:

  • photo
  • ethnic background
  • social number

Including your photo or ethnic bacground may conduct to discrimination.

Your Education

If you have like me more than one degree, you will need to do make sure you list in the first place the education that it is pertinent to the position you are applying. In some cases, you will need to take out other education that it is not related. In my very specific case, I hold one barchelor degree as Computing Engineer and two Master's in IT and Management and Telecom. I have learned that putting the Master's it is not always the best if I am applying to a Networking or Coder work.

When describing your education, include the following information:

  • school name,
  • location,
  • program
  • degree
  • archived honours
  • GPA using Canadian scale
  • graduation date only if you see this pertinent. Giving a graduation date might help to know your age, and this could lead to being disqualified for ungiven reasons.

You may want to do your Canadian studies equivalency. This is not a required document for employers, but in some jobs they will require some kind of prof what you are claiming is true.

It is a good idea to list other stuff such as:

  • certifications
  • courses taken
  • licenses

All these should be in a separate section of your résumé.

Your Employment History

Describe your history, start at the most recent position and one role at a time. In many cases, company name it is not enough as HR staff will not have an idea of what that company is about. It is a good idea to put in a very short sentence, what the company does. You may want to list the following information:

  • company name
  • company city and country
  • company description
  • company website link
  • your start date and end date
  • your job title
  • other job titles you have held
  • title of the person you report to
  • number of employees supervised
  • departments that you oversee
  • budgetary responsibilities
  • sales targets
  • major job functions

Your Accomplishments

Do a list of your achievements on each position you held. When you have that done, do the action-result formula. This book gives us an example: Reconciled inventory by identifying and eliminating stagnant product lines, slashed in-stock levels by 15% while maintaining annual sales of over $1 million. Please note that the sentence started with an active past tense verb.

Your Technical Skills

This is all about your skills with technology. It could be using the computer or operating a specific device. 

Your exclusive Value

Things such speaking more than one language, professional associations, awards, and publications are things you should put here. This book clearly states you do not need to list hobbies or any extracurricular activities.

Your Style

For me, one of the hardest parts to do. Here it comes your personality. The important here is to make this valuable. If you are a people person, instead of saying you might get distracted by talking with people, maybe it is better to say you are good starting relationships (as speaking is the first step for that). In my case, I am not a person that interacts with others a lot and I criticize when someone speaks without a backup of his statements. Instead, I am more analytical and I always do a research and understand issues before the true action. So, for me, my value would be well documented and highly analytical thinking to solve problems.

Buying Motivators

As this book clearly says, buying motivators are the reasons that an employer will want to hire someone. In short, you are marketing yourself. This book shows three kinds of motivators:

  • if you are an entry-level, you may offer the ability to decrease your supervisor's workload
  • if you are a mid-level professional, you may offer the ability of cost reduction
  • if you are a senior-level executive, you may offer more sales

With this, you will be able to write your achievements more clearly.

Supporting Qualifications

A supporting qualification is a credential that validates and supports your buying motivator. In other words, showing proff or your claim.

Tips when Writing the Résumé

Spelling Guidelines

Canadian English is not as US English. It is close, but not the same. It takes on influences from the British and French ancestry with a touch of Americanism. Some spelling tips are:

  • the use of the letter u in words such as colour, flavour, labour
  • the use of the letter z in words such as organize and specialize
  • the use of centre instead of center
  • the use of cheque or paycheque instead check or paycheck

You should look for the Guide to Canadian English Usage by Margery Fee and Janice McAlpine.


There are few tips about this:

  • spell numbers if they are less than ten
  • use $ for currency
  • do not use $ and the word dollars at the same time
  • use currency name like USD to specify other currency than Canadian Dollar
  • do not use % and the word percent at the same time


Here are some tips:

  • capitalize the first letter of the title
  • capitalize the proper names
  • do not capitalize articles, conjunctions or short prepositions of four letters or less
  • acronyms may be capitalized

Gender-less Words

There is always a way to say something without stating the gender when speaking in general. For example, instead of say waiter or waitress, the best word for this is server. In some cases this will drive to use non-existent English words, it seems that in Canadian formal communications this is acceptable.

If you are speaking about a specific someone, it is good to use gender words.

What is the next Step?

After this, the next step is writing down. And here it comes the format which it plays a very important role. I will not write about this in this article, but as an advance, the format depends on your resume. There is a reason why the book has more than 150 examples, and all of them very different.

Good luck!

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