A Canadian Format CV Guide, with Key Tips

A Canadian Format CV Guide, with Key Tips

If you’re considering moving to Canada for work, you’ll need to understand the format and customs of a Canadian CV. There are many attractive reasons to live and work in Canada, and learning how to write a CV for Canada jobs can help you gain an advantage in the competitive Canadian jobs market. In this article, we provide tips for creating a CV for successful Canadian job applications.

Canadian vs. UK CVs

Canadians, like their US neighbours, tend to use the word ‘resume’ to describe what’s typically called a CV in the UK. The term ‘CV’ is generally used for longer documents outlining your complete career journey. In Canada, you might need to use this longer, more detailed CV format for academic jobs. For the purposes of this article, when we say ‘CV’, we’re using the UK definition, and referring to what Canadians usually call a ‘resume’.

There’s one place in Canada where there’s an exception to the rule over the use of terms ‘CV’ and ‘resume’. In Quebec, people use the terms ‘resume’ and ‘CV’ interchangeably, in a similar way to European countries. This is worth remembering if you’re applying for jobs in this part of the country.

The Canadian CV follows much the same structure as a UK CV. The favoured Canadian CV format is the traditional, reverse-chronological approach. This focuses on your work history and presents your relevant experience in reverse-chronological order, starting with your most recent employment and working backwards. The reverse-chronological CV is ideal if you have plenty of work experience. If you’re just starting your career and don’t have much work experience, it’s perfectly fine to use a functional or skills-based format. Alternatively, you might decide to use a combination or hybrid format, which combines elements of the reverse-chronological and functional formats.

In addition, the Canadian resume is generally a short document of no more than two pages. While the modern trend in the UK is for shorter CVs, it's not unusual to still find some that are longer. In contrast, the Canadian CV is always a short, concise document.

Canadian CV layout and specifics

With space at a premium in your Canada CV, it’s essential to make sure you include all the relevant sections and information, without anything unnecessary. You’ll also want to structure your document in a clear and readable format, and make sure you don’t include anything unsuitable that shows a lack of understanding of the Canadian recruitment process.

The typical layout of the Canadian CV is similar to the UK format. It includes the following:

Essential sections

  • CV header
  • CV summary
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Skills

Optional sections

  • Languages
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
  • Certifications
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Publications
  • Projects

When setting up your page layout, use a US letter format (8.5 × 11 inches) rather than an A4 page. Pay attention to the margins and line spacing of your document to ensure the page isn’t too crowded. Set a space either before or after each paragraph and your line spacing to 1.15, to allow your text space to breathe. Choose an easy-to-read font for your body text, and if you like, choose a separate font for your headings (or present them in a different colour, text size or bold).

The content of your CV should follow a similar format to UK CVs. This means not adding too much personal information or a personal photo, omitting salary requirements or references, and never lying or providing misleading information.

Expert tip:

If possible, have your CV reviewed and proofread by a Canadian native before you send it. This can help you avoid making mistakes with Canadian CV customs. It can also help ensure you use suitable language and convert UK qualifications and experience into their Canadian equivalents.

Essential components of a Canadian CV

Take a look at the guide below for tips on writing each section of your CV for Canada job applications:

CV header

Add your first and last name, your email address, your phone number and your location. It’s usually a better idea to add a Canadian location rather than a UK address. Don’t add too much personal information such as your age, gender, nationality. Also, Canadian employers won’t expect you to include a photo.

CV summary or objective

Your CV summary is your chance to make a positive first impression and encourage the hiring manager to read on. Write two or three sentences outlining your strongest skills, your best achievements and your career ambitions. Refer to the job description to understand the most essential experience for the role, and focus on mentioning skills that reflect these.

Work experience

List any roles that show you’ve got the skills and experience for this job. Start with your current or most recent role and work back from there. For each entry, add your job title, the name of the employer, its location and the dates you worked there. Add bullet points under each entry to outline your key achievements in the role.


While UK employers might expect you to list all of your educational achievements, Canada CVs usually just include your highest or most recent qualification. List the name and level of the award, the institution name, its location and your dates of study or graduation. You can also add bullet points describing any specialist areas of study, dissertation topics, awards you won or societies you were a member of.


Include a list of your hard and soft skills, and make sure these reflect the demands of the job description. You can either list these in one section, or divide it into hard/technical skills and soft/transferable skills. Skills in both of these areas are valued by Canadian employers, so make sure you include several of both categories.

“While UK employers might expect you to list all of your educational achievements, Canada CVs usually just include your highest or most recent qualification.”

Effective CV Summary/Objective

The ideal CV summary for your Canadian CV will be short, punchy and highlight your key skills and achievements. This section is one of the key elements of your CV, as it helps to grab the attention of the reader and gives them an instant idea of whether you’re suited to the role. Pay attention to the job description and use strong action verbs to emphasise your impact. You may also wish to mention your career ambitions, and explain how the role and company fits with your career plan and pathway.

Take a look at these example CV summaries for junior employees and more experienced candidates:

Junior candidate:

"An enthusiastic, motivated junior consultant with an MBA and two years’ experience working with businesses to improve operational efficiency. Skilled in building client relationships and contributing to strategic planning, with a strong understanding of Canadian business culture and regulation. Seeking a challenging, innovative work environment with a market-leading firm that provides opportunities to progress."

Experienced candidate:

"An accomplished business leader with a track record of creating strategies for success. A digital marketing specialist with numerous award-winning campaigns for multinational brands and 18 years’ experience building successful teams with an attitude of innovation and creative thinking. Seeking to lend my expertise to a market-disrupting start-up with a team of risk-takers that’s hungry for success."

Quick tips for your Canada CV

Take a look at these quick tips to create a CV that makes a positive impression with Canadian employers:

  • Tailor your CV: the best CVs are tailored to the job description and show employers that you’re capable of carrying out the role as advertised. Make sure your CV contains keywords that match the job description, and that it proves you’re a suitable candidate.
  • Focus on your achievements: rather than listing your duties, focus on your achievements. This will show the employer the impact you made, and how you’ve put your skills and experience to good use in previous roles.
  • Make use of optional sections: use optional sections to show how you meet the job description. If you have a relevant volunteer role, a useful certification or you speak a second language, these can all help your chances of success.
  • Use localised terms and descriptions: adapt your language to reflect the local culture where necessary. You may also wish to covert qualifications into their Canadian equivalents.
  • Write a compelling cover letter: your cover letter can provide further detail on your skills and achievements, and explain why you’re applying for the role. Use your cover letter to emphasise any skills you want to draw particular attention to.
  • Use a beautiful CV design: adding subtle design elements and colour accents to your CV can help it to stand out. CVwizard has a selection of beautiful CV templates that are clearly structured, eye-catching and can help your CV pass any ATS stage of the recruitment process.

Key Takeaways for a Successful Canada CV

The Canadian resume is broadly similar to the UK CV. It’s important to keep your document brief, use a reverse-chronological layout and focus on your achievements and key skills. Always tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for, and make sure you use Canadian terminology where possible. If you want to make your CV stand out from the crowd for Canada job applications, use a CV template from CVwizard. Sign up today to take the first steps towards your dream Canadian job.

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