The curriculum vitae (CV) is a necessary document for every job search. Well written, it represents the first success factor in the search process. Writing it remains one of the most difficult steps to overcome:
How to summarize our path in few lines
What are the skills, experience, ability, capacity and personality components that might attracts the recruiter’s attention?
What kind of information that should be highlighted?
How to display all these elements in order for the reader to catch the important information at a glance?
It is not evident to find the right recipe to build an efficient CV, but some tips might help you with the process in Québec:
It is extremely important that your CV respects the rules of the chosen language! Not only the grammar and spelling, but also those of vocabulary, syntax, punctuation, typography and style as well.
To write your CV in French or English, the Antidote tool is recommended. It is a writing assistant software that includes a corrector. The software is used to a large extent in the professional environment in Québec: https://www.antidote.info.
NUMBER OF PAGES
It is recommended to limit the number of pages of a CV to two (2). The purpose of this document is not to tell your whole story but to be attractive enough to get an interview.
In Québec, we do not add pictures to a CV.
Do not mention on your CV, your full address, your age, your sex, your religion, your marital status, number of children, you driver’s licence number, your origin, your handicaps, and specially your social insurance number (SIN).
In the selection process in Québec, the law prohibits the transmission of these informations. Moreover, some informations might be miss interpreted by the recruiter (like for example, the residential address that might be too far from the employer’s address and therefore gives the wrong impression that the candidate might have difficulty coming to work).
«The city where you live will be an important information on your CV if you apply for a position that is in another city. In this case, it will be interesting to mention, in the cover letter, that you will be willing to relocate if the position is given to you. » (Maryse Gendron)
The selection process in Québec must be exclusively based on the professional attributes of the candidates and your CV must focus on these elements.
Do not mention the hobbies, it is not a relevant information.
Limit yourself into only indicate your phone number and an email address where the employer can reach you if you are selected for an interview. Also indicate the hyperlink towards your LinkedIn profile, an often-used tool by the candidates and recruiters throughout the hiring process.
Note: at the end of a selection process, when you are selected by an organisation as an ideal candidate to fill the position, the recruiter askes usually for professional references and might also run a criminal or credit check. If you give the permission to your future employer to do so, he will ask you your date of birth, full address and your SIN (Social Insurance Number). It is a common practice that takes place at the end of the hiring process. This search might even be done after a formal offer. In this case, the offer will be conditioned to the results of the investigation.
The recruiter does not contact your current employer unless you authorise it.
GOALS, PROFILE AND INFORMATIONS TO BE MENTIONED FIRST
Normally, the education is not the first information that a recruiter is looking for in a CV. Your experience weighs way more and should be emphasized, before even your education. A significant number of degrees does not bring a big advantage in a selection process.
« When we have work experience, we should not emphasize the degrees on a CV. This might be perceived in a wrong way. Make your professional experience more valuable no matter in which part of the word it took place. » (Agnès Bédard)
When you mention your professional experience, mention first the name of the company that you worked for, afterwards, your title and few lines to present your responsibilities. If you are an experienced candidate, make sure to mention your most remarkable achievements. The period of time that you occupied in each position is usually aligned to the right of your document. It is possible to indicate only the starting and ending year (instead of months).
In Québec, we appreciate certified professionals! Highlight your certifications in project management or those related to your area of expertise because they are highly valued in a hiring process.
For more information, please visit the « certifications» section of this guide.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
In Québec, volunteering is well received. So, if you work as a volunteer, you should mention it in your CV.
Remember that PMI-Montréal offers multiples volunteering opportunities!
For more information, please visit the section «volunteering opportunities» of this guide
If you obtained prizes or acknowledgments mention them as well.
It is always important to have computer knowledge on your CV. In project management, you must not forget to mention your knowledge of Microsoft Project and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel and Powerpoint).
A CV OF A JUNIOR PROFESSIONAL COMPARED TO A SENIOR PROFESSIONAL
The Junior professional doesn’t have much experience to mention on a CV. He has to emphasize his academic achievements, projects that he worked on before, extracurricular activities (volunteering, etc.) and performances.
On the other hand, a CV of an experienced professional has to focus on his experience and professional achievements. The education is less important and not supposed to be emphasized at the front page of the CV.
THE CV BASED ON THE FIELD OF ACTIVITY
It is always recommended to keep your CV up to date for the position you are applying for in order to highlight all the elements in your experience and profile that are linked to the position.
Depending on your field of activity, a CV could be formal, short or long.
THE CV FOR A PERMANENT POSITION VS A CONSULTANT POSITION
The career path of a professional who is looking for a permanent position is normally axed on his relationship with the companies where he worked. The recruiter will verify the employment stability, which means the frequency of changing companies. Moreover, the achievements have to go beyond delivering projects within the budget, deadline and according to the client’s criteria; and show involvement in the success of the organisation, the initiative of improving the process and involvement in the comities, etc.
For those looking for a career as a consultant, the best candidate usually presents many diversified professional experiences within different organisations. It is okay if the candidate has worked few months or few years within the same organisation before changing for another one. It is specially about showing that his projects were well managed or that he gave the necessary support to the projects that he worked on. (as PCO for example).
THE CV FOR A CANDIDATE WITH NO WORK PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN CANADA
if you find yourself in such a situation, you must mention your achievements within your experience in a way that a recruiter will understand. The recruiter must be able to place your experience in a local context. You must emphasize your transversal skills, those who can be applied and used in other fields and other contexts.
Don’t be afraid to mention the country where your experience took place.
«Your name and your two last employments are elements that will be looked at first in your CV by recruiters. If your two last employments were out of the country, you can assure the recruiter by placing all relevant elements clearly in a professional summary that is located at the top of your CV (PMP, “x” years of experience in project management, involvement with PMI-Montréal chapter, etc.). » (Maryse Gendron)
SOME WRITING TIPS
Tips by Mrs. Maryse Gendron:
The CV is the starting point of a job search process. It has to be perfect, so always linked to the concerned position. The CV has to be written and adjusted to the tasks descriptions. Although, it remains only one step in the hiring process.
You must not give all the information on a CV, especially if it doesn’t add any value to the main goal of being contacted for an interview
The recruiters do not have much time to read and decode all the information on a CV, therefore it must remain brief. A good way to do it while creating value is to mention numbers, for example, how many resources you were responsible for; what was the scope of the project, its budget? How many users were affected by the software delivered by your project? How much was the net profit generated by your project?