Applying for a Job in Canada - Some Tips

by Ronalee Carey Law

August 2020

My absolutely wonderful legal administrative assistant is expecting a baby. She will be leaving me mid-October for a maternity/extended parental leave. I have a few weeks to find someone to cover her while she is gone, so that she has time to train her replacement.


I recently posted an advertisement on Indeed, a job search site popular in Canada. By the time the number of applications was over 100 (within 24 hours of the job being posted), I had developed a long list of problems I saw with applications. International students looking for post-graduation work placements, and other individuals looking for work in Canada, may wish to heed the following tips:

  • Read the advertisement. (!)
  • Spelling and grammar are important, especially when the advertisement says, ‘You must have excellent written English’. The letter ‘I’ is capitalized when used as a word. Sentences should include a noun and a verb, and perhaps some other words as well. The first word in a sentence is capitalized. If you cannot send a message with your resume that is spelled correctly, what kind of image will you be giving to clients of my firm when you communicate with them?
  • If the advertisement requests that specific information be provided, ensure you provide that information. My advertisement asks that three references be included in the resume. The line ‘References available upon request’ shows me that you either have not read the advertisement (see point #1), or you are unable to follow directions.
  • My name is not ‘Hiring Manger’. Call the company and find out who is receiving the applications. Address the letter to this person, and make sure you are using the right pronouns. Requesting they add you on LinkedIn as soon as you submit the application is another way to get their attention.
  • If you have never worked in the industry before, explain why you are making a career change and how you are qualified for the position, despite a lack of prior experience. I received a resume for someone who had only worked in Early Childhood Education and had never had an office job. I was not able to consider her for the position, as I had no idea whether she had the required skills. Had she provided the cover letter I had requested perhaps I would have had an opportunity to receive this information.
  • Indeed has an ‘Apply Now’ link that allows you to upload your resume and create a cover letter. Use the tools you are given. Just submitting your resume without a cover letter is insufficient. Your resume only lists your education and previous work history. You need to explain how you meet the qualifications of this particular job. This is your chance to sell yourself. Similarly, if you have received letters of reference, provide them upfront.
  • Show you have researched the position and the employer. Say what attracts you to the job.
  • My advertisement states, ‘Ronalee Carey Law provides services to clients from all over the world. As such, you must have experience working with individuals from different cultures.’ This was ignored by virtually all the candidates who submitted applications. This was their chance to set themselves apart, by talking about volunteer work, their studies, their travel to other countries, or even their friends, and how what they had learned about different cultures through these relationships would allow them to provide excellent service to our clients.

In today’s digital world where so many applications have moved online, your first opportunity to make an impression is through your electronic application. It is not just a place to list your credentials. Instead, it is your chance to show your future employer what it would be like to work with you. Thoughtfully crafted cover letters, organized and well-formatted resumes, and attention to detail all show that you are an excellent candidate for the job. It takes time to prepare a great application, however it is well worth the effort.