How to Write a Job Application Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter is essential when applying for jobs. This is the perfect way to express how your specific skills are relevant to the open position. Wow your future employer with this simple cover letter example format.

Writing a first draft makes your letter concise and professional, states The Balance Careers. Organize your thoughts by making a list of what you’re trying to convey. Make sure you prioritize certain aspects like your previous job experience and why you would be a good fit for the position. Clearly state what position you’re interested in and why. Think about why you’re applying and what caught your eye about this specific position. Your cover letter will be easier to write after your thoughts are collected and organized.

Customize Your Salutation

When writing a salutation, make sure you know who you are writing to. Is this person the owner of the company or a Human Resources administrator? If you’re not sure, research the company to find out. Addressing your cover letter to a specific person shows initiative and attention to detail. After your salutation, start your letter with a short introduction of yourself. This gives future employers insight into who you are and the purpose of your cover letter.

Write Intentionally

Your cover letter should be no more than one page, so keep your points brief. Clearly state what position you are interested in and why. Explain why you are a good fit for the company because of your past job experience. If you have no similar job experience, let the employer know why you are changing career paths. Expand on your skills and give specific examples of how that skill set helped you at your last position. Name projects you’ve worked on and show results.

Close Your Letter

End your cover letter with a brief sentence and sign off. Thank the employer for their time and express your interest towards the job again. Let them know you’ll follow up with them if you do not hear back within a week and leave your contact information. Sign off with a professional farewell and leave room for a signature if sending a hard copy.

Edit and Proofread

As you finish writing your cover letter, make sure you take time to edit and proofread your document. Make sure it’s structured in a professional format with the company’s information, the salutation and introduction, the body of the letter, a brief closing sentence and farewell. Check for spelling and grammar mistakes to ensure a formal result. Make sure all names are spelled correctly, as well.

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Canadian Cover Letter Format & Resume 2024: Tips & Templates!

  • Read Time 18 mins
  • Updated On October 27, 2023
  • Published In Jobs & Internships 👩‍💻 , Study in Canada 🇨🇦

Did you know that if your resume is longer than 2 pages, it’s most likely to get rejected!? 

Table of Contents

CVs and Resumes are the first step to securing a job or getting your university applications accepted. However, studies show that at least 70% of candidates get rejected in this preliminary stage itself. 

Unprofessional email addresses, silly fonts, bad grammar, and spelling can all be the reason why your CVS or Resume gets rejected. So, your CV, or Resume is a crucial starting point, and it is vital to get it done right.

Especially while applying for jobs or universities in Canada, there are certain regulations that you have to follow to make sure your profile looks extraordinary and to make sure it coincides with the Canadian application standards. 

In this article, we will provide you with some insight into the Canadian cover letter format, and how to draft a compelling Resume, to help you stand out from the crowd and catch the attention of recruiters, employment agencies, and employers for the job posting.

canadian cover letter format

What is the difference between a CV and a Resume?

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Canadian Cover Letter Format & Resume 2024: Tips & Templates!

Most people think that a CV and a Resume are the same.

In fact, the primary objective of a CV, or a Resume remains the same. It is to motivate and convince your recruiter, or hiring manager about your capacity for the role you seek. The Americans call it a CV, while the Europeans call it a Resume. Coming to Canada, there are regions where the words CV and Resume are used interchangeably. For example, in Quebec. 

However, this is not the case in the majority of the regions of Canada. The format, style, and intentions of a CV, and a Resume differ slightly. Let us look at the major differences, to understand if you need a CV or a Resume for your application.

  • Length: A CV is comprehensive data on your achievements. It can go up to 2-3 pages, depending upon your qualifications, whereas a resume is kept shorter. It is usually one page long.
  • Function: A CV is mainly meant for academic purposes.  However, a resume is drafted mostly for job applications. 
  • Information Type: A CV is like an academic diary of yours. It records your educational qualifications, achievements, and other certificates you earned. It has to be updated only when new academic achievements are needed to be added to it. However, a resume has to be customised for each job you are applying for. It focuses more on your professional achievements, rather than academics. 

Depending upon your purpose, you can choose if you want either a CV or a Resume. Most applications specify their requirements, and you need to cater accordingly.

Canadian Style Cover Letter

The word CV, or Curriculum Vitae, originated from Latin which means  “ the course of your life ”.

A cover letter is a brief document created in response to a particular employment opportunity, or university application, and is addressed to the organization or person in charge of the position’s hiring. You should supplement the material on your resume and reintroduce yourself to the business as a viable candidate.

It contains information on why you are applying for the job, or the particular university, a summary of your career background, and what qualifies you for the role. While some employers may need a cover letter as part of the application process, others may make it optional or even prefer that you not send one.

Although the major layout of the CV remains the same, there are certain criteria you must follow while drafting a Canadian-style Cover Letter.

Canadian Cover Letter Format

The general formatting for a Canadian Style Cover Letter is as follows:

  • Sections: The main content of your cover letter is divided into three sections: Introduction, Body Part, and Conclusion.
  • Salutation: To begin your letter, use a polite greeting. If you are aware of the name of the person who makes recruiting decisions, use their prefix and full name to address them. Use a polite, generic greeting like ‘ To whomsoever, it may concern ” if you do not know the person’s name.
  • Introductory Paragraph: You should introduce yourself in the first paragraph of your cover letter. You might include the position you are interested in, as well as your qualifications and how you encountered the job search. If you have a contact within the company that introduced you to the job, you should mention their name and position in your cover letter. Make sure you do not introduce yourself in more than two to three lines of the paragraphs.
  • Content: In the following paragraphs, you must persuade the company that you are the strongest candidate. Explain to them why they must put their money into you.

The content part has to be precise and accurate. This is what determines the quality of your application

If you are unsure what to add to your CV, consider the following questions.

  • What projects do you have experience with that are related to the position? What did you take away from it? What makes you a better candidate as a result of this?
  • What relevant responsibilities have you undertaken in the past that apply to this position? What did you take away from it? What makes you a better candidate as a result of this?
  • What are your plans if you decide to be hired? What is the value to the employer in hiring you over someone else?

The body of the cover letter should be a maximum of two paragraphs long.

  • Conclusion: The conclusion is the last paragraph of your cover letter’s primary material. It is your chance to express your excitement about the prospect of working for the organisation, appreciates the company for the opportunity to pursue it, and ask them to respond to your approach. It should just be up to four sentences long.
  • Add your Signature: The closing line and your complete name are the two elements of your cover letter signature. 
  • Closing Line: A suitable closing line must be included in your cover letter. This is the line immediately preceding your name. 
  • Name: The final line includes your entire name. Because most job applications are made electronically, it is not required to print and sign your cover letter.

This is the basic Canadian Cover Letter format you have to follow. In addition to the basic requirements, there are other factors you can consider to add colours to your CV. 

Additional Tips for a Canadian-Style Cover Letter

Most Canadian firms will require you to follow a specific cover letter structure. The more you adhere to it, the better your CV looks. Here are some pointers:

  • The cover letter must not exceed one page in length.
  • You should use a professional-looking font. 
  • Your cover letter’s typeface should be consistent throughout it.
  • When printing your cover letter, make sure the font size is large enough to read well.
  • The spacing in the cover letter must be proper. The major body of the paper should be single-spaced, with enough space between every paragraph and section.
  • Add personal information like your full name, residential address (current), email address, and contact number. Make sure the contact information is latest and reachable. 
  • Add the date when you will be mailing your cover letter, below your personal information.
  • Include contact details for the person, department, or firm you are sending the cover letter to underneath the date.

Adding these minute, but notable details will make your CV look more professional, and efficient. 

Canadian Style Cover Letter Template

Here is a common template for a Canadian-style cover letter, which you can use to take ideas and to get an inspiration to create one on your own:

canadian cover letter format

Canadian Style Resume 

A resume is a short, and straight-to-point bio of yours. It is drafted specifically for job applications. And has to be customised, upon applying for each job.

Unlike CVS, resumes are short and often contain a single page. It is always recommended to keep it short unless you feel an extreme necessity to add extra information. For example, if you are a seasoned professional, or if you have 15+ years of experience, you might have plenty of work-related information to add. If any details can add value to your application, you can consider making a longer resume. 

Canadian Style Resume Format

The basic format for a Canadian-style resume is as follows.

  • Reverse-chronological Format: One of the peculiarities of a Canadian-style resume is that it follows a reverse chronological order in describing your work experience. Add your latest details first, followed by earlier ones. 

You can follow the Functional Resume Format if you want to stress your work skills more, especially for career changers. You can use the Combination Resume Format if you need to focus on your work experience, and skills at some point more. For example, if you want to justify an employment gap. However, the reverse-chronological format is the most commonly accepted Canadian Resume Format. 

  • List the Correct Contact Information: This includes your name and surname, Canadian phone number, Address (City and Province), and professional email address
  • Write Your Resume Summary: Your resume summary is the first 2-3 lines of your resume. This should draw the attention of your intended audience. Normally it contains your professional title, years of experience, 2-3 of your biggest achievements, and 1-2 of your top relevant skills for the position.

If you are new to the job market or just finished your studies, you can opt for a Resume Objective , instead of a Resume Summary. A resume objective focuses on your motivation and skills to work and improve in the chosen field. It is used to substitute work experience or professional achievements. 

  • Mention Your Work Experience: Work Experience is the most important content in a resume. This explains both your past work experience and validates how you are suited for the post you are applying for. You have to include Start with your most recent job first and then mention it in reverse chronological order. Start with your job title, company name, location, duration/date of employment, and the job roles or responsibilities you performed. 
  • Add your Educational Qualifications: Mention your educational qualifications. This can be either related to your work or not 
  • Highlight your skills and strengths : This can be your communication skills, interpersonal skills, computer skills, or any quality that facilitates your work. 

The basic format for a Canadian-style resume contains the above-given information. However, you can add more relevant details to convince your employer that you are suitable for the position you are applying. Attaching a cover letter, along with your resume is often recommended while making an application. 

Additional Tips for a Canadian-Style Resume

In addition to the basic information mentioned above, other small details can make your resume noteworthy. If you have a Canadian-style resume, Canadian recruiters will pay greater attention to it. While there are many distinct forms of Canadian-style resumes, there are some commonalities that you should be aware of. 

Some of the details are given below:

  • Write your Resume in the Same Language as the Job Offered. Drafting a resume in the same language in which the job is offered will make your resume look more professional. For example, if you are looking for a position in Quebec, and the job advertisement is in French, then draft your resume in French. Unless it is particularly mentioned to be in English, tailor your resume according to the job. 
  • In Canada, a photo is never included on a resume
  • In a Canadian-style resume, personal information is limited to your name and contact information.
  • Having a generic resume and sending it to multiple employers for various positions/roles may not get you the greatest results. You must customise your resume for each position you apply for. Work experience, talents, and other information should all be tailored to the post.
  • Many job applicants make the error of focusing on roles and responsibilities rather than accomplishments. On resumes, recruiters and hiring managers desire to see quantitative achievements. The ‘CAR’ method is useful for structuring individual sentences: The letters C, A, and R stand for Challenge, Action, and Result, respectively.
  • Add a section to mention the languages you are capable of. You can add them, along with mentioning your language proficiency in each.
  • You can also add the internships, or volunteering experience you have. This is important, especially if it is relevant to the job you are applying.
  • You can also add other certificates, awards, publications, or projects you did. 
  • Quantify your accomplishments, and mention the skills you achieved from your various responsibilities. 
  • Adding your hobbies and interests also helps your employer to understand you better. 

Never do the following since none of these things is thought to be important in a job search:

  • Mentioning your age, ethnicity, or cultural background
  • Describe your physical characteristics.
  • Indicate whether you are married or have children, as well as your sexual orientation or preferences.

Adding more details can make your resume more specific, and comprehensive. However, make sure you are not making the resume lengthy. Add powerful and action verbs, instead of elaborating your details. It is important to maintain precision and accuracy. 

Canadian Style Resume Template

Given below is a sample resume formatted in the Canadian style.  

Final Thoughts

A resume is a sales tool utilised for one purpose: to obtain an interview. In contrast, a cover letter introduces you and your resume to a potential employer. It is the first document that an employer sees, serving as a first impression. It also allows the employer to receive a more in-depth insight into who you are and why you are qualified for the job.

The Canadian Cover Letter format is much simpler and more convenient. However, make sure you add extra colours to your documents with your impressions. The Canadian economy is wide open to you, beaming with more job opportunities and diverse career pathways. Make sure you reach them on time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. what is the difference between american and canadian resume templates.

A. The basic style for an American resume and a Canadian resume remains the same. However, the difference is in their preferred language. American resumes are always in English since it is the primary language in the US. but, in Canada, there are two official languages, English and French. Tailor your resume according to the job you are applying for. Even if it is in English, stick to the British spelling rule, since that is prominent in Canada.

Q. How can I create a Canadian resume, being an international student?

A. Being an international student, you might come across several occasions where you need to provide a resume. This can happen while applying for a university, applying for a part-time job, or while applying for a project, or internship. Being a student, your primary focus should be the academic achievements you had. Mention them appropriately. Since you are a foreign student, adding the location of your previous institutions could be more accurate.

Q. How to write a CV for a Canadian university?

A. While applying for a Canadian university, you need to follow the specific Canadian cover letter format. The Canadian cover letter format is given below:

– Add your work experience and qualifications in reverse order – Do not add a profile photo – Do not elaborate on your personal information – Draft a CV or resume in the same language as the job offered

Q. What should be the length of a resume for Canada?

A. The average length of your resume for Canada should be 1-2 pages. We recommend retaining your resume within a single page. However, a two-page resume is acceptable if you are well-experienced in your field, for example, if you have an experience of 15+ years. A longer resume is recommended for seasonal professionals as well. 

Q. Do Canadians say CV or resume?

A. The usage of the terms CV and Resume can vary depending on what part of Canada you are in. Mostly in Quebec, the terms are used interchangeably. Outside of Quebec, it is used distinctly. Here, resumes are shorter, and tailored documents for job applications, while CVs are longer and general documents.

Q. Should the Canadian CV be in a PDF or Word file format?

A. A PDF is the most recommended format for your CV. This helps your employer to open the document in any operating system or device. More importantly, it helps to retain your formatting and illustrations in place. It can also prevent getting edited by accident. However, you can keep a Word document if the recruiter specifies it.

Q. What should I NOT include in a Canadian resume?

A. Adding certain details is not recommended while drafting a Canadian resume. This includes:

– Your Photo – Personal Information like age or gender – Ethnicity and religion – Your Nationality – Immigration status – Political Affiliation – Marital Status – Social Insurance Number

The above-mentioned information is not recommended in a resume, to prevent any discrimination you could face in a job market.

Q. Is mentioning work experience in a CV compulsory in Canada?

A. A cover letter is primarily to introduce yourself to your employer. Although it is opted mostly for academic purposes, you can attach a CV even while applying for a job. Although a CV focuses on your educational achievements, you have to include your work details as well. This includes work experience, job roles, work duration, and skills you acquired through it.

Q. Should I upload a CV or a Resume, while applying for a Canadian University?

A. While applying for a Canadian University, it is better to upload a CV. A cover letter is more appropriate for academic purposes. It focuses more on your educational achievements. This includes:

– Your educational qualifications – Projects – Internships – Publications – Certificates – Scholarships – Awards

Q. What should I mention in a CV while looking for a research program in Canada?

A. While applying for a research program in Canada, you need to draft a well-structured and detailed cover letter. This has to specify your qualifications to attend a research program. This includes:

– Your Educational Qualifications – Research Papers you did – Projects related to the field – Research Paper Publications – Certificate courses related to your field – Seminars or Conferences you participated in – MPhil or any dissertation you have completed

Q. What are the details to add to a resume for Canada?

A. Upon creating a resume for Canada, you will need to add the following details:

– Your complete name – Contact information  – Work experience – Work skills – Educational qualifications – Other achievements, like awards from certificate programs – Languages  – Hobbies and interests

Q. Can I create a Canadian-style cover letter online for free?

A. Yes, you can make your cover letters online for free. Some of the websites that provide free templates are:

– Abode – Indeed  – Novoresume – Canva –

Q. How long is a good CV in Canada?

A. A good Canadian-style cover letter has to be 2-3 pages long. Although a cover letter is supposed to be longer than a resume, it is better to keep it concise. The general length of a cover letter is 2-3 pages in Canada. Try to include all the major details such as your educational background, work experience, skills, and other achievements within the cover letter. 

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A Canadian cover letter is a short document written in response to a specific job prospect and addressed directly to the hiring manager or individual in charge of hiring for the position. It should add to the information contained in your resume and resent you to the employer as a candidate.

Cover letters are essential in the hiring process as they provide candidates with the opportunity to introduce themselves, demonstrate their qualifications, and show enthusiasm for a specific role and company.

They serve as a personalized communication tool, allowing candidates to make a positive first impression, tailor their message to the job, and address potential concerns or unique situations.

A well-written cover letter enhances a candidate’s chances of standing out and securing an interview in Canada .

The following are general guidelines only. You must tailor your cover letter to suit your own experiences, and to suit the specific position you are applying for.

Before You Begin

Once you find a specific job posting that you want to apply for, you can begin to work on your application cover letter. Following these steps before you begin will help you write the best cover letter possible.

1. Do Your Research

Before you begin to write your cover letter, learn everything that you can about the company or organization you are applying to. Check out their website and social media pages, research their top competitors, and read recent industry news articles. Learn the name(s) of the individual(s) who will be in charge of hiring for the position you want, as well as the head(s) of the company.

Also, keep in mind the job description and requirements for the role. it allows you to create a cover letter that showcases your qualifications, aligns with the company’s needs, and demonstrates your genuine interest in the position. This, in turn, increases your chances of being noticed and considered for the role.

Doing this research will help you decide what you should include. Do your research for every cover letter you write. It may take some time, but you have a much better chance of being granted an interview if you have tailored your cover letter to the individual who will be reading it.

2. Check for Instructions

Some employers include instructions in their job postings. They might ask you to include specific information or answer certain questions, in your cover letter. Check whether the employer has left any specific instructions for your cover letter. If they have, follow them carefully.

3. Save time by using a Master Template:

Creating a separate cover letter for every job application can be exhausting. Instead, develop a comprehensive cover letter template that highlights your key qualifications, skills, and experiences.

Keep a library of snippets or bullet points highlighting your achievements, skills, and relevant experiences. You can easily insert these into your cover letter as needed. This template can serve as a foundation for various job applications, making the process more efficient.

Formatting Guidelines

There is a standard cover letter format that most Canadian employers will expect you to follow. However, depending on your industry and the specific job posting you are responding to, you may have to change the formatting of your cover letter.

1. Length  Your cover letter should be no more than one page in total.

2. Font  Your font should be consistent throughout your cover letter, and you should choose a professional-looking font. Your font size should be big enough that it is easy to read when your cover letter is printed.

3. Spacing  Your cover letter should be appropriately spaced. The main body should be single-spaced, with sufficient space left between each new paragraph and section.

What to Include

There are seven sections in a cover letter.

1. Your Information  Your name and contact information should be at the top of your cover letter. Include your:

  • First and last name
  • Current residential address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

2. Date  Below your information, write the date that you are sending your cover letter.

3. Employer Information  Below the date, include the contact information of the individual, department, or company you are addressing in the cover letter. If you know the name of the individual, include their:

  • Position title
  • Company or organization name
  • Commercial address of the company or organization

If you do not know the name of the individual, include:

  • Department in charge of hiring decisions (if known)
  • Commercial address of company or organization

4. Greeting  Use a formal greeting to open your letter. If you know the name of the individual making hiring decisions, address them directly with their prefix and full name. If you don’t know the name of the individual, use a formal, generic greeting like ‘To whom it may concern,’.

5. Main Text:  There are three parts to the main text of your cover letter: the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Introduction  In the first paragraph of your cover letter, you should introduce yourself as a candidate . Include your first name and the position you are applying for. You can also include your post-relevant qualification and how you found the job posting. If you have a contact at the company who referred you to the job, you may want to mention him or her by name and department. Your introduction should be no more than two to three sentences.

Body  In the next couple of paragraphs, you want to convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the job position. Tell them why they should invest in you. If you’re not sure what to include, try to answer these questions:

  • What projects have you worked on that are relevant to this position? What did you learn from them? Why does this make you a better candidate?
  • What responsibilities have you held that are relevant to this position? What did you learn from them? Why does this make you a better candidate?
  • What do you intend to do if you are hired? What benefit does the employer get if he or she hires you instead of someone else?

The body of your cover letter should be one or two paragraphs.

Conclusion  The conclusion is the final paragraph in the main text of your cover letter. It is your opportunity to tell the employer how you feel about potentially working for the company, thank them for the opportunity to apply, and invite them to respond to your application. It should be no more than three or four sentences.

6. Signature  There are two parts to your cover letter signature: the closing line and your full name.

  • Closing Line  Your cover letter must include an appropriate closing line. This is the line right before your name.
  • Full Name  Your full name follows the closing line. It is not necessary to print and physically sign your cover letter since more job applications are done electronically.

Final Revision

Carefully review your cover letters to make sure you have not made any mistakes.

1. Proofread

Check your cover letter for any spelling or grammar mistakes. If possible, have someone else proofread it for you, or come back to it after a night’s sleep. Be sure that you have not made any mistakes in:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The employer’s name and contact information
  • The name of the company or organization you are applying to

2. Check Instructions

Go over any instructions for your cover letter given by the employer and make sure you have followed them carefully.

Make sure that you have the correct date on your cover letter. The date should be the day that you send your cover letter to the potential employer.

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How to write the perfect cover letter for canada.

Craft a winning cover letter that will help you land your dream job in Canada.

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How do you write a cover letter for Canada? We’re here to provide tips on how to write a focused Canadian cover letter and supply you with cover letter examples.

Being able to write a cover letter for Canada is a must for all professional job applications and is crucial to finding work in the country, so let’s get started.

Write the perfect cover letter for Canada’s job market

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to creating the perfect cover letter for Canada is that there’s a three-pronged approach to success.

First of all, you need to introduce yourself and the job you are applying for.

Secondly, make it patently clear that your skill set matches that requirements listed in the job description.

Finally, articulate the reasons why you would be an ideal candidate for an interview but don’t be too pushy.

OK, so let’s look at these three points in closer detail.

  • Always state your relevant skills and reasons why you are right for the role in question as early as possible in your cover letter for Canada. A cover letter in Canada is not all about you. Ensure you spend at least 30 per cent of the document talking about what you know about the company — recent projects, company values, company news. Make the company feel special and they will be more likely to invite you for an interview.
  • Do not simply rehash your resume. Instead you should focus on showing why the skills and experience you have would be a fit for the role in question . It makes sense to address each requirement in turn, doing so shows the hiring manager that you understand the role clearly and could be a great fit for the position.
  • Do your research on the company and demonstrate this in your cover letter to ensure you make a good first impression. Don’t take it as a given. Highlight what you know, but don’t be brash about it.
  • Don’t forget that you will need two documents — a resume and cover letter — for a successful job application in Canada. Keep your resume brief and then craft a cover letter to provide more nuance to the key skills and attributes that you will bring to the role if hired. In brief, make sure that you “tick all the boxes” that are outlined in the job description.
  • Our comprehensive resume guide should help you with the accompanying resume, which is also crucial to landing an interview and ultimately your dream job in Canada.
  • Also, we have listed some common interview questions and how to answer them.

cover letter for canada jobs

Want to write the best Canadian cover letter possible?

A cover letter for canada: always needed.

In some instances — such as if you are lucky enough to be referred by an employee of a company — a cover letter may not be completely necessary. However, it is best to write a Canadian cover letter for each job application as it is a means of demonstrating your understanding of the position and how your skills and experience match the requirements. This is particularly true if you want to land that dream career job.

Take the time to understand the company and elaborate concisely about how you can help them. That’s how to make a strong first impression and write a successful cover letter. Generic cover letters for Canada that state “I have always wanted to work for {insert company name} . . .” don’t cut it, so differentiate yourself by showing the company you are genuinely interested in them.

Don’t forget to download the  Moving2Canada Getting Started Guide today. In this free guide you will find detailed templates for a Canadian-style resume and a Canadian cover letter. The guide will give you exclusive access to our proven cover letter techniques and will help you accelerate your job search in your new home.

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A Canadian cover letter acts as an introduction to your resume and is tailoured to a particular role you wish to apply in Canada. A cover letter's primary purpose is to introduce you to the Canadian employer and urge them to read your resume. It should demonstrate that you are the ideal candidate for their firm. Your cover letter should highlight your relevant qualifications, experience, and favourable work characteristics. Download your Free Canadian Cover Letter Sample and Template below on your laptop/desktop.

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Canadian resume and cover letter: Format, tips, and templates

For many newcomers, finding employment quickly after moving to Canada is a high-priority action item. Whether you’re contemplating a career switch or looking to get back in your field of work, the first step is usually the same – to have a resume and a cover letter that you can share with potential employers or networking contacts.    

In this article, we will explore the Canadian-style resume in detail, highlight some key differences between a resume and a curriculum vitae (CV), and help you identify which resume format might be best suited to your career goal. We will also go over some useful tips to craft an ATS-friendly resume to ensure you stand out from the competition and get noticed by employers, hiring managers, and recruiters.

cover letter for canada jobs

In this article:

  • What is the difference between a resume and a CV?

Understanding the types of resume formats used in Canada

Tips for writing a canadian-style resume, what is the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae (cv).

Often, there are two ways job seekers can showcase their professional experience to an employer: by using a resume or a CV. In Canada, employers prefer a resume. A CV is mainly used only for academic applications such as academic jobs, grants, research fellowships, etc. 

To provide more clarity, here are some key differences between a resume and a CV:

Many countries use a CV instead of a resume, and some have a combination of both. Some regions use both terms interchangeably: for instance, in most European countries as well as New Zealand, the term CV is used to describe an equivalent of a Canadian resume. In Australia and South Africa, “curriculum vitae” and “resume” are synonyms that can be used interchangeably. In South Asia, the terms CV and resume are used interchangeably and refer to an equivalent of a traditional CV.  

In some parts of the world, it’s common to include personal information such as marital status, nationality, personal interests, hobbies, date of birth, address, and a photograph on a CV. In Canada, however, you shouldn’t include these details on your resume as it is not required under the employment law, and it is also not a part of the resume format.

As a job seeker in Canada, there are three types of resume formats you should be familiar with. Each of these formats includes the same basic information in a different layout. 

1. Reverse chronological resume

This type of resume outlines your professional experience in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent position.

When to use a reverse chronological resume?

If you’re an experienced professional with at least some experience in the workforce, have no major employment gaps , and intend to continue working in the same field.

Tip: The reverse chronological resume is the most popular format in the Canadian job market. Most employers and recruiters are used to and prefer a resume in this format.

2. Functional resume

The functional resume focuses on your overall skills and qualifications instead of specific professional experiences. The employment history is still included, but it is usually listed after skills and education. 

When to use a functional resume?

If you’re looking to switch roles and/or industries and start your career in a new field. It may also be ideal for recent college graduates.  

3. Combination or hybrid resume

A combination resume is a mix of the reverse-chronological layout and the functional layout and is ideal for showcasing transferable skills along with professional experience. In this format, work experience is usually outlined in a reverse chronological format, and the skills section includes a summary of qualifications and technical skills (or core competencies). 

When to use a combination or hybrid resume?

It is commonly used by a variety of job seekers ranging from experienced workers to recent graduates to those with limited experience, multiple short-term work stints, or those having significant work gaps. 

Need more guidance on how to write a Canadian-style resume? For a stepwise approach, check out: How to write a resume for the Canadian job market 10 resume mistakes to avoid when applying for jobs in Canada

Download the free Resume and cover letter templates to craft your Canadian resume

Mastering the art of writing a flawless and impactful Canadian-style resume takes practice and patience. Here are a few tips to help you improve your resume-writing skills. 

1. Adapt your resume to each job listing and keep it relevant

Having a generic resume and sharing it with multiple employers for a variety of positions/roles may not yield the best result for you. It is essential to customize your resume to each position that you’re applying for. Tailor your work experience, skills, and any additional information to the role. Include keywords from the job posting and always start your sentence with relevant action verbs like spearheaded, achieved, managed, trained, etc. Craft a compelling summary for your resume. Avoid including very detailed information for each position you have held; you can share relevant details in the interview instead. 

Job interview resources:  How to prepare for a job interview 10 common job interview questions and how to answer them

2. Optimize for Applicant Tracking System (ATS) but write for humans

Many companies use an ATS to pre-screen resumes and then involve recruiters and hiring managers later in the process. You need to keep both in mind when writing your resume. 

What is an ATS?

An ATS is a software that scans resumes to determine if it is a good match for a specific job listing. Parameters such as work experience, skills, and education are usually considered during the ATS screening process. Resumes that match the pre-defined criteria are forwarded to hiring managers or recruiters, while human eyes never see those rejected by the system. Therefore, even though you may be qualified for the position, if your resume isn’t optimized for an ATS, it may end up being rejected. An ATS is widely used by organizations, recruiters, and job placement agencies in Canada. 

How to optimize a resume for ATS

  • Use standard formatting and don’t include images, designs, charts, and tables. 
  • Use correct headers and include keywords that match the job description and desired core competencies and skills.
  • Send your resume as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) document. Most ATS systems tend to process Word files better than PDF. 
  • Spell out abbreviations at least once on your resume. 
  • Include experience, skills, and qualifications relevant to the position.
  • Avoid long paragraphs and font size less than size 10. 
  • Convert technical terms, grades, and scores to their Canadian equivalents. 

3. Check spelling, grammar, punctuation, and proofread your resume

It’s always a good idea to proofread your resume and check grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence formation, especially if English isn’t your first language or mother tongue. There are many free tools that can help you with proofreading: Grammarly as well as the in-built grammar and spelling tool in Microsoft Word, are good starting points. You can also ask a native English speaker to review your resume for language fluency.  

To help you finesse your English language skills and get more tips and advice from an experienced teacher, Karen Thomson, read How to improve your English and adapt to Canadian culture .

4. Quantify your accomplishments

Many job seekers make the mistake of outlining roles and responsibilities instead of achievements. Recruiters and hiring managers prefer seeing quantified accomplishments on resumes. The ‘CAR’ approach is a good way to help you structure individual sentences: 

C = what was the Challenge , A = what Action did you take, and R = what was the Result .

Some examples to consider:

  • “Reached eBay Power Seller status within one year by auctioning over 400 items per month, an exceptional accomplishment reached by only 4 per cent of the 29 million eBay sellers at that time.” 
  • “Designed and built statistical analysis models on large data sets (e.g. Aster, Teradata) that helped increase online sales (up to 15 per cent per product) and lowered cart-abandonment rate by 23 per cent.” 

5. Include a cover letter

A cover letter is a formal one-page document that accompanies a resume. It is not a rephrased or concise version of your resume, but it is mainly supposed to talk about how you fit the role you’re applying for and why the organization should hire you. The cover letter is also a good way to justify any gaps in your resume or provide any additional info that your resume can’t.

Note that a cover letter doesn’t have to be a separate document but can also be included in the body of an email when applying for a job. Adding a custom, well-written cover letter to your resume can make you stand out from the crowd, thus improving your chances of being approached for an interview. 

Tips for writing an impressive Canadian-style cover letter

  • Limit the length to one page.
  • Tailor your cover letter to suit each job application.
  • Proofread your cover letter; check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, especially since it serves as a reflection of your communication skills.
  • Use a standard font size (10 or 12 points, in a font style such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri). Avoid using special effects (bold/underline/italics, different fonts, and colour).
  • Weave in information you know about the company, their recent projects, or organizational culture and values.
Looking for more guidance on cover letters? Read How to write an effective cover letter for advice and insights from recruiters.

6. Show off your skills with unpaid or local volunteer work

This is a good way for newcomers to show Canadian experience on their resume. If your volunteer work requires you to use skills that may also be valued in the position that you are applying for, adding the volunteer experience to your resume may work to your advantage.

Tip: Volunteering can help you build your network and earn Canadian experience. To discover the importance of volunteering in Canada, and learn how to find volunteering opportunities, read The benefits of volunteering as a newcomer in Canada .

Things our lawyers want you to know

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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