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The CV is a key document for any job search. A well-written CV constitutes the first success factor in any job search process. However, its wording is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome:
- How do I summarize all my experience in a few lines?
- What are the key competencies, experience, skills, capabilities and personal traits that will attract a recruiter’s attention in Quebec?
- What information should I highlight?
- How do I lay out all these elements so that the reader will readily notice the most relevant information at a glance?
It is important to write your CV respecting all the rules of the chosen language. If your CV is written in French, a good resource to consult is l'Office québecois de la langue française.
It is not obvious to find the perfect recipe to produce an effective CV but there are a few tips that may help you along the way.
In order to write a winning resumé, it is important to consider the success factors that make a difference here in Quebec since the way to write a resumé in Quebec is different than the way it is done elsewhere.
Here are a few tips to build a winning resumé in Quebec:
NUMBER OF PAGES
In Quebec, it is usually recommended to limit your resumé to two pages. The goal is not to tell your whole story but rather to make your overall work experience sufficiently attractive to get a job interview.
The resumé in Quebec does not include a photograph, in contrast to what we see in other cultures.
In your resumé, it is not recommended to mention your full address, your age, your sexual orientation, your religion, your marital status, your number of children, your driving license number, your origin, any handicap you might have and above all do not provide your social insurance number.
The law forbids employers from requesting this information from a candidate in a selection process in Quebec. Furthermore, some of this information could be misinterpreted by the recruiter (for example, the home address could be far from the employer’s address which may create the false impression that the candidate could have difficulty getting to work).
The selection process in Quebec should be based exclusively on the professional attributes of the candidates therefore your CV must be oriented along these lines.
Do not mention your leisure or spare time activities; it is not considered relevant information.
Indicate your telephone number and an e-mail address since this is the most important information that an employer will require so as to contact you in the eventuality you are selected for an interview.
You may also include a hyperlink to your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a very useful tool being increasingly used by candidates and recruiters during a recruitment process.
Note: at the end of a recruitment process, when an organisation has chosen you as the ideal candidate to fill the position, the recruiter will normally request professional references and may also perform a criminal or credit investigation. If you authorize your eventual employer to do so, he will request your date of birth, your full address, and your social insurance number. It is a normal procedure performed at the end of the selection process. This investigation may also be done after the employer submits you a formal offer. In such a case, the job offer will be conditional to a positive result of the investigation or validation.
The recruiter will not contact your current employer if you do not authorize it.
OBJECTIVE, PROFILE AND INFORMATION TO HIGHLIGHT AT THE TOP OF YOUR CV
A sentence presenting your professional objective is not required. However, a few lines to summarize your profile would be interesting to consider. Recruiters like to know quickly if a candidate is bilingual (French/English), the number of years of experience, if he/she has a PMP® certification, the candidate’s domain of expertise and computer skills.
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION
Normally, education is not the first information that a recruiter looks for in a resumé. Your experience weighs much more and should be highlighted, even before your education. A long list of diplomas does not generally give you an important advantage in the selection process.
When writing about your professional experience, first indicate the name of the company for which you have worked, then your title and a few lines presenting your responsibilities. If you are a more senior candidate, you can also provide some of your achievements. The period when you were working in each position should normally be displayed aligned on the right side of the position title and should only show the starting and ending year (not the month).
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO HIGHLIGHT
In Quebec, volunteering is appreciated and as such you should mention it in your resumé (it is worth remembering that PMI-Montréal offers many volunteering opportunities).
If you have received prizes or a mention of recognition, it is important to include them in your resumé.
Some certifications such as the Scrum Master certification should also be highlighted since they are highly rated in a project management selection process.
Your computer skills are always important in a CV. In the project management domain, the most important information to include is your proficiency level of Microsoft Project or of any other similar tools.
There are many resources available to you on Internet that will provide samples of CVs. The www.pmjobs.ca site offers many interesting tips as well as a few templates that you can use to prepare your CV.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A JUNIOR AND A SENIOR PROFESSIONAL’S CV
The junior professional does not have much experience to include in a resumé. He/she must therefore emphasize academic realizations, the projects in which he/she has worked, extracurricular activities (volunteering, etc.) and academic performance.
On the other hand, the resumé of an experienced professional should focus on professional experience. Education is less important and should not appear at the top of the CV.
THE CV BY FIELD OF ACTIVITY
Depending on your domain of activity, your CV could be more or less formal, brief or lengthy. It’s always recommended to adapt your CV to the position for which you are applying in order to highlight the portion of your profile and experience that are closely related with the position requirements.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RESUMÉ FOR A PERMANENT POSITION VS ONE FOR A CONSULTANT POSITION
The career path of a professional looking for a permanent job is normally focused on the relationship with the companies he/she worked for in the past. The recruiter wants to see that the applicant has not jumped from company to company too often. Furthermore, accomplishments should go beyond the delivery of projects within time, budget and according to the quality criteria set forth by the customer. They should also demonstrate interest in advancing the organization’s success, process improvement initiatives, activities in various committees, etc.
For those who are seeking a career as a consultant, a good candidate normally presents a large number of diverse professional experiences in various organizations. It does not matter if the candidate worked for a few months or several years for a company before moving to another. It is more important to demonstrate that he has managed projects well or added to the success of the projects on which he/she has worked (as a PCO for example).
THE CV FOR A CANDIDATE THAT HAS NO PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN CANADA
If you find yourself in this situation, describe your experience and achievements in words that a Quebec recruiter will understand. The recruiter must be able to judge your experience in a Quebec context. You must emphasize the transverse abilities that would apply to other domains of expertise.
Do not be afraid to mention the country where you gained your experience.
Tips from Ms. Maryse Gendron:
The resumé is the starting point of your job search process. It should be perfect, that is, always relevant to the specific job offer. The CV must be written and adapted to the tasks description, but keep in mind that the CV is only one of the steps of a job search process.
You should not put too much information in a resumé, especially if it is not adding value to the objective of being called for an interview.
Recruiters do not have the time to read and decode all the information provided in a CV, so you must be concise. A good way to do this while creating value is to mention numbers: How many people were you managing? What was the size of the project, its budget? How many users did the delivered software from your project affect? What was the net income that resulted from your project?
Tips from Ms. Christiana Simonsen (extracted from Guide pratique de recherche d'emploi, Emploi-Québec, 2013):
- Be brief (one to two pages maximum). Employers receive a huge amount of CVs and put aside those that are too long.
- Carefully choose your words. Use simple vocabulary you are comfortable with.
- Write positive sentences and action verbs such as manage, analyze, compile, lead, and inform.
- Give only truthful information. Verify that your contact information is correctly typed (telephone number, e-mail).
Errors to avoid:
- Spelling, grammar and syntax mistakes may suggest a lack of professionalism.
- Have your CV corrected by a person that masters the language in which you are writing the CV.
- Inconsistency in the layout of the CV may lead the reader to believe that there is confusion in your mind. Clearly delimit each section (professional objective, education, professional experience, volunteer work etc.). Do not contradict yourself.
- Avoid using humor; it may give the impression that you lack seriousness.
Tips from Ms. Jessica Glazer: