Gaining experience in Canada can be very important for international students, especially if you are considering staying in Canada after graduation. Your resume and cover letter can help open some doors, but the format and style may be different from your home country. We have compiled some common tips about resumes and cover letters, which can help international students who are not familiar with North American standards. Also, check out the samples for international students under our Resume and Cover Letter Toolkit.
1. Tip 1
Make sure you represent all your strengths, skills and experiences – including your paid and unpaid work, extracurricular activities, and volunteering experience. Use action words to articulate all relevant skills with concrete examples of how you developed each skill. Use bullets and outcome-based statements to provide evidence of the skills that the employer is looking for.
2. Tip 2
Experience in a family business can demonstrate a variety of skills; make sure you convey these to the employer. Do not dismiss your personal experience or projects if they are relevant to the job position that you are applying for.
3. Tip 3
Include your contact information, such as email address and phone number. Don’t include personal information such as age, marital status, nationality, visa status, social insurance number, or photo.
4. Tip 4
For your references, prepare a separate sheet with your reference information. Consult our References tip sheet for more information on this. Don’t include references on your resume - you only need the company/organization name, a city location and country if it is not located in Canada.
5. Tip 5
You may include fluency in languages, but you don’t need to do unnecessary self-disclosure with regards to which language is your mother language. Also, it would be better to indicate Bilingual (eg. English and Chinese) or multilingual (eg. English, German, Hindu, and basic Spanish). Keep in mind that you do not need to indicate your English competence as fluency is assumed since you are studying at an English language university.
6. Tip 6
Include academic information from the last 2-3 years. If you are in your first or second year, you can include high school and related experiences. As you progress in your degree it is expected that you are gathering more recent experiences; therefore, high school experiences should be removed from your resume at this point.
7. Tip 7
Only include the submission date on the cover letter, not on the resume or references page.
8. Tip 8
Use standard business salutations (e.g. Ms., Mr., Dr.) if you are sure about their gender and then the person’s last name in the cover letter. If you do not know their gender and know their full name, you can simply use their full name. If you do not know their names, "Dear Hiring Manager(s):" would be appropriate. When ending the letter, use “Sincerely” before your signature.
9. Tip 9
For all documents, check your grammar and syntax. Avoid flowery language or words that are not usually used in this context; ask us for advice if you are unsure. Do not write run-on sentences and always check spelling as well as small details.
10. Tip 10
Consult the Resume and Cover Letter Toolkit for tips on writing a good resume and cover letter. Also, we advise you to consult our resume and cover letter samples and checklists. We also hold resume and cover letter workshops. Check the events calendar to see when the next workshop is available.
For more information on job searching for international students, including work permits, on-campus opportunities, and obtaining a social insurance number, check out our Resources for International Students section. If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the UTM Career Centre, DV 3094, 905-828-5451.
Updated August 4, 2022