Applying for a Job

When there is an open position at a business or an organization, the employer will usually collect information on potential employees, identify the top candidates who meet the requirements for the position, conduct job interviews, obtain references and then decide whom to hire for the job.

To ensure that you are screened in for an interview, you will need to submit specific documents which describe your knowledge, skills and abilities for the position. It is important that all of your documents are properly formatted, organized and easy for the employer to read. If you are submitting your documents on paper, ensure that there are no bends, folds or smudges. Remember to check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

The documents most commonly needed when applying for a job in Canada are:

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Job Application
  • References

Depending on the job requirements, you may be asked to present proof of your education or an employment portfolio as well.

You do not have to include your Social Insurance Number (SIN) in any of the documents you are submitting, nor do you have to provide personal information like your age, information about your marital status or family, gender, race, religion, political affiliation, immigration status, etc. Employers in Canada, by law, are not allowed to give preference to job candidates based on this kind of information, unless it is considered a valid job requirement.

Cover Letter

When applying for a job, it is always a good idea to include a cover letter. A cover letter provides an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to the employer and highlight your skills and experience relating to the specific job for which you are applying. Remember to thank the reader for their time and include your contact information.

If the job advertisement does not list a specific contact at the company, you may address your cover letter to the hiring manager.

It is recommended to keep your cover letter to one page in length. Remember to include your handwritten signature and ensure that you have listed the employer’s contact information correctly.


A resume is a structured document which demonstrates your relevant experience, education and training, skills, and accomplishments for the advertised position.

Your resume may be separated into several specific categories. The most common categories are:

  • Summary of Qualifications
  • Education and Training
  • Work Experience
  • Volunteer Experience
  • References

A resume is typically 2 – 3 pages in length depending on your background and experience. There are many styles and templates available to help you format your resume in a professional manner. It is important to be specific about dates, titles and locations. Be consistent and use action words to accurately describe your experience and skills in brief bullet point statements.

In addition, remember to include your name and contact information, and carefully check your resume for spelling and grammatical errors.

Remember that employers typically spend less than 30 seconds reading each resume. Therefore, it is important to highlight key information in a way that will catch the employer’s eye and effectively demonstrate that you are the right person for the job.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A curriculum vitae, commonly referred to as CV, is used when applying for potential international, academic, educational, scientific or research positions, or when applying for fellowships or grants. It is longer than a resume (two or more pages) because it provides in-depth details about your:

  • educational and academic backgrounds
  • teaching and research experience
  • publications
  • presentations
  • awards and honours
  • affiliations

Job Application

In addition to resumes and CV’s, some employers require candidates to complete an online or written application form when applying for a position within their business or organization. These may be required either before or after they have invited you for an interview.

It is standard practice for job applications to include similar information to what one would find in a resume. They will likely ask you about your employment history, educational background, volunteer experience and references as well as a brief section for you to introduce yourself.

When completing a job application, it is important to take your time and follow the instructions carefully. If you are completing the application by hand, try to be as neat as possible and only use a blue or black pen. Make sure you check for errors.

You will most likely still need to attach a resume and cover letter, so be sure to check that the information is consistent in both documents.


An employer may ask for 2-3 references during your job application process. A referee will be able to comment on your work experience, work habits, character and skills with your potential employer.

Remember to ask permission from a person before using them as a reference and provide information to them about the job, so that they are prepared to respond if they are contacted.

Unless you are specifically asked for the information in the job posting, you may choose to include the phrase ‘references available upon request’ in your resume. You can provide their contact information at the interview stage if it is requested.

Related Resources

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