Job Seeker Blog

Get an Edge on the Canadian Job Market with These Essential Tips
By Sandra Lim, Canada Career Advisor, Provided by Goinglobal.comRésumés and Cover Letters
Canadian résumés and cover letters are substantially identical to those used in the United States. Accomplishments-based chronological, functional, and combination résumés are widely accepted, as are CVs in appropriate circumstances. A two-page résumé is widely accepted in Canada. Scannable and ASCII résumés incorporating relevant keywords are also used for electronic job searching in Canada.

Watch Out!
There are some slight variations to be aware of when preparing for a job hunt in Canada. Things to watch out for:

Educational System & Academic Credentials
The term "college" has a different connotation in Canada than it does in the United States. In Canada, after completion of high school, students have a choice of attending either university or college. Only universities grant degrees, while colleges (also called community colleges or institutes) provide career-oriented and technical training leading to diplomas or certificates generally requiring one or two years of study.

Furthermore, Canadian university degrees are abbreviated somewhat differently. For example, a Bachelor of Science is referred to as a B.Sc., rather than a B.S. Any confusion can be avoided by spelling the name of the degree in its entirety.

The Quebec educational system differs from the rest of the country. After grade 11, students in Quebec must complete a two-year "collèges d'enseignement général et professionnel" (CEGEP) program to be eligible for university entrance. CEGEPs also offer three-year career and technical programs similar to those provided by community colleges in other provinces.

Canadian Spelling
Usage of American spelling (often the default setting of spell-checkers in word processing software programs) could be mistaken for typographical or spelling errors by Canadian employers. Just a few common examples:

Canadian SpellingAmerican Spelling
colour, labour, behaviourcolor, labor, behavior
centre, theatre, fibrecenter, theater, fiber
licence (noun), license (verb)license (noun/verb)

Recent Job Search Trends
In the last few years, Canadian companies have embraced Internet recruiting. A 1999 survey by iLogos Corp. of Quebec City showed that 96% of Canadian respondents use their corporate Web sites to post job openings. However, when it comes to senior executives, word of mouth and executive search firms are still the preferred route, even by technology companies. At the end of 1999, more than 2,800 search firms were active in Canada with the number of Canadian recruiting firms increasing by more than 15% annually.

According to a recent Globe and Mail article, sophisticated recruiting software that lets employers pre-screen prospective candidates, such as Recruitsoft and E-cruiter, is gaining popularity among Canadian companies. Along with sending a résumé, applicants fill out a questionnaire asking upfront whether a candidate meets certain crucial criteria—with questions such as, "Can you travel? Do you have a Canadian passport?—the kind of information that a résumé doesnÕt usually include. In some cases, candidates are required to respond to the questions before theyÕre even able to submit a résumé. Some of the software programs use a scoring system to assign points to candidates' answers. When candidates pass the questionnaire stage, their résumés are forwarded electronically to hiring mangers for an on-line review. Managers then contact candidates by email and often conduct further on-line testing.

About Sandra Lim
Sandra Lim is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) and the first Canadian to earn the Credentialed Career Master (CCM) designation. Through her company, A Better Impression, she provides clients with résumé and career counseling services to help them create a better impression. Learn more about Sandra Lim's career advisory services.

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