Newcomer’s Perspective: How to Ace your Resume (updated)


Introductory Disclaimer

Job-hunting is one of the scariest stages that I have encountered during my immigration to Canada. It felt like a make or break situation for me. I expected for the worst but hoped for the best. I know some of you felt the same way. We are both on this journey. We are skilled workers so let’s put our best effort. I’m also voicing out my opinion to people under regulated professions. Time and Money are not the main issues. It boils down to the Effort. We can find ways to finance our studies here while working full-time. We have time even if we have kids. I’ve researched the newcomer resources in Canada. They are real.

This particular blog is my hardest to construct, H-O-N-E-S-T-L-Y. Usually when something’s in my mind I just freely input my thoughts in my mobile phone and simply clicking the blog post button. When I blog, I want to make sure that I give specific information. Not the general or vague information. For this one, I hope I can make you understand the actual things that I have ‘fairly’ achieved. I also hope that I am able to share it well. I tried to limit the sharing of knowledge between “spoon feeding” and researching on your own.

Resume building is one of the toughest tasks that we normally do. To make it harder, it comes along when we migrate to Canada. Conversely, it is easier to discuss verbally. How I wish we can just meet for a coffee and discuss about these stuffs. There is no perfect resume. There is no specific format to prepare. No need to Google. But prepare a resume promoting yourself. Prepare a resume that exhibits your strengths and your very strengths. Be sure to write a resume making you the best candidate for the job. This is your main focus firstly and lastly. The rest should be secondary. Always bear this in mind. Always.

My Actual Step-by-Step Process:

  1. Attended pre-arrival servicessssssss

Like I mentioned in my earlier posts, I maximized the benefits of the pre-arrival services. Whether it’s a popular, boring, helpful or time-demanding type of these services. Always remember that each one of them can give you a clue or hint of what you can actually do for your own preparation. They serve as our guide, not just to assist us, in preparing or reviewing our resume, but more importantly, it widens our level of understanding and increases our techniques on how to ace our resumes.

Each time I attended a pre-arrival service whether it is online or actual-based, I made sure that I wrote the important notes that the employment counsellors shared to me. I basically had 2 columns on my notes: Priority and General.

The Priority notes are those ideas that were either new to me or I always fail to remember. For instance, I learned to put my past employer’s company websites and country of origin for each of my work .

The General notes are those ideas that all of the employment counsellors have in common. These gave me an idea of the expected things that are expected or not in a Canadian Resume .For instance, personal details such as birth date, gender or religion, are not included because Canada highly values equality and zero tolerance for discrimination.

  1. Choosing the Type of Resume

I learned 3 types of resumes: chronological, functional and combination. Do your own research on this but basically use the chronological resume if you have no gaps in employment (work history) while use functional if you want to highlight your skills and experience with separate categories from your employment/work history. By combining these two types, you can prepare a combination (or hybrid) resume. I will not focus on the type of resume but I will give my pointers to the contents of it.

One of my employment counsellors pointed out the use of chronological resume on my credentials, as I have no gaps in employment. He also pointed out that a chronological resume does not hide anything.

Apparently, I cannot fully support that type of resume because my wife used a functional resume and some of my friends used a hybrid resume. All of them successfully received interviews and job offers in their own fields.

I won’t recommend anything unless I reviewed your resume.

  1. Prepared a General Type of Resume


I listed all of my skills, experience and credentials as many as I can. My general resume was five pages. It only served like a personal diary so I can do the elimination process once I prepare a resume specific to a job and catered to the Canadian work environment.

I used the online tools that the CANPREP Program provided to me. I’m sure that you can GOOGLE their online resources but you may not get it for FREE unless you register with them. Be sure to be qualified ‘though. This program lets you practice to build your resume on a step-by-step process. They’ll feed you with great knowledge and much information before you build your own resume. Looking for an actual job posting for practice purposes is the best learning that I got from them. They also mentioned to be concise because “too wordy resumes” reflects that you may not be a good English user.

I also got good tips from Pathways to Canada – Philippine Office, headquarters in BC, a “chat-style” resume building session, but shared proven points – one-liner job description only (as much as possible) and cover letter does not repeat the contents of the resume.

The Monster Resumes were really impressive too. You can also use GOOGLE to search for helpful sites that gives you a library of skills and job description that are relevant to your credentials and do not forget, use “Canadian Language”. You may be 101% literate in English but you need to adapt the use of words according to the Canadian Work Environment. In writing, the Philippines, my native country, is used to American English but in Canada, they use British English.

I prepared two general resumes: field-based and skill-based. The former is for my profession (I used chronological – applicable to me) and the latter is for alternative fields (hybrid).

  1. Consulted People in my Profession

Before landing (I had five months of preparation from visa on hand to landing), I contacted accountants in my profession using LinkedIn. I discussed about that in my blog about “Job in 2 weeks from Landing”.

Some willingly called me up to discuss, responded via LinkedIn, others (most) simply ignored. Do not just send a message. Prepare a formal and sincere introduction in a professional (and not too demanding) manner. The CANPREP Program actually termed it as “Information Interview”.

Here are some of the collections of ideas that I got from them (exactly what they’ve said although I honestly edited some to cut it short):

  • “Compare your work experience with other accountants in Canada. Imitate the wordings for job duties that are similar to you. Be Honest.”
  • “Use action words. Instead of using reduced costs,use slashed costs.”
  • “Do not forget to properly mix your skills on technical (hard) and personal attributes (soft). These two skills should blend together to give employers a good impression of what you really are and capable of. Do not just copy. Know yourself.”
  • “Focus on achievements, not job duties. We don’t like robots. We want achievers. If job duties are more relevant to your resume, then it’s obvious that you are just a “doer”. Don’t be like that.”
  • “If you insist on including trainings, seminars or other certificates, do not include the year especially if it was more than 8-10 years already. Don’t you have enough experience and skills to support those for you to include those things in the first place?”
  • “You cannot land a job prior to your arrival here if you are not super special.“
  • “Accountants are in demand here but go here first and apply. Employers are too busy on their tax preparation to accommodate you knowing that you are not in Canada.”
  • “Apply. Apply. Apply. You never know. You might be the one that they’ve been looking for.”
  • “Obviously, your work history states countries outside Canada. So do not indicate that you are a permanent resident or even a newcomer. We will know it once we review your resume. So avoid doing it. I want your resume to look at your own advantage. Not conclusive (that you are a newcomer) on the part of the employer.”
  • “Work on building your designation (CPA title) while searching for jobs.”
  • “As long as you are working towards obtaining your CPA designation, the employer notices it.”
  1. Asked Sample Resume of people living in my intended province

I gained new friends prior and after landing so I asked some good people to share their resumes for comparison purposes. It also served as my basis of the strength of my resume. Well, it serves a lot of purposes depending on your output.

One advice I got was to edit the summary portion of the resume only – but not the work history. In my case, I cannot do that. I have a handful of achievements and job duties to include or exclude. So it was really depending on the company that I was applying for.

I did not have an actual employment counselling (after landing) in Canada so I cannot provide actual information about what they do.

  1. Additional Factual Tips

Once I completed all of the tasks I mentioned above, I also noted on making my resume on this manner:

  • Use of one-liner job description or duty (JD) focusing on achievements; There are achievements that were not possible to have a one-liner so I still wrote some but limited it to a two-liner JD like 2-4 JDs in all of my work history.
  • Adjusted my resume to the job postings – I had tons of versions of resume so each resume catered to a specific company
  • Made sure that my LinkedIn Profile matches what I’ve been doing in my resume (employers might cross-check)
  • Expecting a reference check, prior to preparation of resume, I contacted my previous bosses to discuss my work achievements and job roles while also asking some tips on how I can highlight my skills and experience. The boss is always right as some folks say.
  • Prepared my final resume based on the inputs that I’ve received especially by the accountants in Canada.
  1. Sample points to Highlight in my Resume

I attached an obviously false information about my resume. But take a look at the format that I used. You have the option to declare or not to declare your LinkedIn Profile. It still depends on your field. If you have a two-page resume, Include some contact details and page number at the bottom. Use only your first and last name. For example if your name is John Paul C. Smith, exclude the second name and middle initial.

Your education information should be subsequently followed by an equivalent degree in Canada (reviewed by WES). Just check the image below.



Nobody can tell the best resume except you. You know yourself better. Always put this perspective in your mind: SELL YOURSELF. You sell what you know. You sell what you can do for the company. Impress yourself so you reward yourself. Everyone deserves to be the best. Pray too. Not a believer? Good luck.


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