Immigration and Professional Transitions: The Art of the Resume

2015-2016 Issue 1

by Emilie Nketiah, Career and Transition Advisor


If you’re a newcomer to Canada and you’ve been following our Immigration and Profession Transitions series, you know that your resume is not the first step in planning your employability roadmap. Instead, assessing your skills and analyzing the local labour market are among your first priorities.

However, once you’re ready for pursue local opportunities, your resume is a key document in demonstrating your skills to potential employers. Equally important is ensuring that it’s tailored to North American standards. Resume content differs among different cultures, and each one has their own dos and don’ts.

Here are a few ways to successfully adapt your resume to Canadian employers:


1. Don’t include your photo, birth date or marital status
Job seekers are protected from discriminatory hiring practices; employers are discouraged from considering from race, age or family status when making hiring decisions. As a result, you should omit this information.

2. Don’t make it generic
In some countries, your resume is a static product. In Canada, it’s a marketing tool. If your resume could be easily swapped with the resume of a recent colleague, it’s too generic. Instead, highlight the experiences and positive attributes that set you apart from the crowd.

3. Don’t lie
It’s not worth it. Social media makes it easy for employers to verify your claims, and getting caught could ruin your reputation.



1. Do reflect the specifics of the job you’re applying for
Research the employer. Employ the same vocabulary the company used in the job description. You can find more about this here.

2. Do upgrade to HD
I often say that there are three types of resumes: black and white, colour, and high-definition, otherwise known as HD. A black-and-white version only states your titles. A colour version includes the tasks you performed, and how long you stayed at each job. But this is 2016, so go for HD: list the tools you used and the valuable accomplishments you achieved.

3. Do get a second opinion
Have a trusted professional look it over to make sure it represents the best of your abilities. Every resume also needs to be proofread for spelling mistakes and formatting. When an employer is inundated with resumes, those containing errors are often the first to be tossed out.

Looking for more tips on adapting to Canadian work culture, or preparing for a career? The McGill School of Continuing Studies is offering upcoming workshop series, which include individual meetings to provide you with personalized coaching and assistance.

This article is available in Spanish on NM Noticias Montreal.

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