How to Craft the Best Canadian Résumé

A magnifying glass focusing in on what it takes to craft the best Canadian résumé

If you had asked me about résumé writing eight years ago as I was starting my career practice, I would have said that it is as much an art as it is a science. Résumé writing requires comprehensive research, forethought and strategic planning, and an ability to gather the right information. It’s all about presenting the client’s value through high-quality content, yet design and formatting are equally important if you want to catch the reader’s eye. I’d like to share what I’ve learned over the years about how to craft the best Canadian résumé.

There is Strategy Behind the Best Canadian Résumé

From a strategic perspective, the résumé is like a footprint or a snapshot of the client’s past and their present, while shedding insight on where they are going. A résumé can reveal unsightly employment gaps along with strengths and even weaknesses, if one looks closely enough. You can spot interesting patterns and strategies that the candidate has taken to drive results. You can also note changes in the candidate’s path and the way their unique brand has evolved.  As career professionals, we must ensure that our résumé writing skills are exemplary to position jobseekers for their next career move in this competitive and ever-changing labour market.

Recruiters and employers are inundated with many résumés. In today’s competitive labour market, it can be hard to reach the top of the pile. However, with the right master-level strategy and a client approach that involves leveraging the hidden job market, creating a stellar résumé is possible through résumé brand engineering.

Gathering Facts to Craft the Best Canadian Résumé

As career professionals, we can gather the right information by asking the client relevant questions in a creative and compelling way.

The Challenge-Action-Result (CAR) method is an effective method of coaching our clients on gathering accomplishments.

Start by asking the client about:

  • (C) The challenge or situation they were presented with and what they were tasked with achieving.
  • (A) The actions they initiated to solve the situation or achieve the target goal.
  • (R) The end result – how did their employer, team, customer, or key stakeholders benefit from the actions taken.

I suggest that clients use a Career Milestones Journal to track their accomplishments using the CAR method.

However, the Challenge-Action-Result method is just one way. You can also use metaphors to unlock your client’s career narrative.

Other Methods of Drawing Out Accomplishments

With clients who have difficulty in charting out the challenges, actions, and results or say they have “no accomplishments,” I use visualization or a mind map with keywords to help draw out their career milestones.

For example, I may inquire what they thought their greatest achievement was with their most recent employer. In other words, what kind of legacy did they leave behind?

To get my clients thinking about their unique value and milestones, I ask in-depth questions. For example:

  • If you could describe one interesting quality about yourself that sets you apart professionally, what would it be?
  • What problems did you solve?
  • How did you go above and beyond to achieve strategic goals?
  • Did you leverage any specific opportunities?
  • Were you tasked with leading projects that paved the way for incredible results or process improvements?
  • Did you generate an increase in revenue, productivity, operational efficiency, or market share?
  • Did you introduce any opportunities for cost savings or internal improvements?
  • How did your performance measure up against your peers?
  • What kind of feedback did you receive in regards to performance (performance reviews)?
  • What are your most valuable strengths?
  • If you were not present at your job for one week, what noticeable differences would occur?
  • Did you earn any honours or awards for your contributions?

Okay! Time to Start Writing the Best Canadian Résumé

Once I have gathered enough information on the client, their goals, particular brand, their value and accomplishments as well as the precise message they want to convey, I begin crafting their career narrative.

You can access my helpful tip sheet on creating a C-U-S-T-O-M résumé on the Job Search Vault page of my website.

To learn more about résumé writing and to take your skills to the next level, consider taking the Advanced Résumé Development Certificate Program or CPC’s other leading edge résumé writing courses. Boost your expertise and your credibility! You can work toward your Certified Résumé Strategist (CRS) or even the MCRS (Master Certified Résumé Strategist) designation.

Oh, and just so you know…CPC is preparing to release fully updated and current editions of the very popular books Best Canadian Résumés and Best Canadian Cover Letters early in 2022!

Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Image by iqoncept on 123RF

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Thank you for these insightful tips, Lori! I especially like the detailed prompts to help our clients see their professional contributions and unlock their achievement statements.

We can also provide them with a list of action/ power verbs and some examples to help them extract those achievements for the Work History section of their résumé. I usually ask my clients what their friends and family would say about them as those strengths and skills transfer to work performance. Also, colleagues provide positive feedback on a daily basis and it can help our clients recognize their strengths and achievements.

I really appreciate that you mentioned formatting. By following the basic design principles such as Emphasis, Balance, Alignment, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Movement, and White Space, we can create effective flow of information and command the viewer’s eye to important points.

I also use Grammarly for impeccable grammar and style when Master level résumé writing. Attention to detail is key when it comes to writing.

Amazing article, Lori, with so many takeaways!

Thank you, Ksenia! I appreciate your feedback and great tips as well to guide clients in conveying their story and formulating meaningful accomplishments.