How to Write a CV/Resume for UK, Canada and the US

4 min readOct 10, 2023
Photo by Van Tay Media on Unsplash

Find what’s needed when writing a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume for these countries but first, understand the different kinds of CV formats and where and when to use them.

You would also learn how to tailor your CV/resume for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). It’s one of the reasons you’ve probably not been called up for job interviews.

But first, the formats…

Types of CV/Resume Formats

Chronological format

The emphasis here is on your professional experience, qualification and achievement in your field than your skills. It’s better suited for those who have a chosen or mapped-out career path in an industry.

Functional format

The emphasis here is on skills and abilities than work experience. This format is mostly suited for young graduates and those who are lacking concrete work experience to show or have a gap in their work experience.

Hybrid format

This is for those with diverse work experience and diverse skills in different industries. Here, you’re focused on transferable skills including volunteering experiences.

CV contains your work history even if it doesn’t relate or is not tailored to the job you’re applying for. A resume is tailored for a specific job.

Writing a CV for the UK

CV is mostly accepted in UK, not resume.

For the UK, consider the following when writing your CV:

- Your CV length should be between 2 pages or 3 pages (maximum)

- You don’t have to include pictures in your CV (except it is stated by your employer)

- Use your name (first and last name) as the title of the finished version of your CV (the document), not names like ‘My CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’.

- Use reverse chronological order (from the most recent experience to the least recent experience). This also concerns your education and other sections of your CV.

- The language to use should be British English (this is the UK).

- Add hobbies and interests that are related to the jobs you’re applying for.

Writing a Resume for Canada

Canada prefers ‘resume’ to ‘CV’. To land remote or full-time gigs, optimize your resume for ATS. Canada is heavy on ATS.

For Canada, consider the following when writing your resume:

- Include keywords

- The hybrid format works for Canadian resumes. Highlight your skills before your work experience

- Quantify your achievements

- Include unpaid work and volunteer experience as part of your work experience

- Use Canadian English like using words such as high school, internship, GPA, and so on. Make your research about this.

- Canadian jobs requests for cover letters or similar documents to show your value. Have them ready alongside your resume.

Writing a Resume for the US

In the US, there’s a difference between a work CV and an academic CV.

Find a full guideline on how to write an academic CV.

For work purposes, the US prefers a resume because it is peculiar and tailored to the role you’re applying for.

For the US, consider the following when writing your resume:

- The hobbies and the interests are not important for the US resume

- Use American English

- Volunteering experience is a good thing to present here

- The other things for a Canadian resume also applies here

How to Write an ATS-Standard Resume

ATS is short for Applicant Tracking System. Employers use this software to hire and select the right candidates for job positions.

It scans, screens, and filters resumes that are submitted for a job. Recruiters no longer need to check the resumes one after the other. ATS now does that for them.

How ATS Works

Employees submit their resumes and recruiters filter these resumes using data such as number of work experience they are looking for, keywords and other details that are important to them.

Only resumes that successfully pass through the ATS proceed to the next stage of the hiring process.

How to Tailor your Resume for ATS

- Use long-form keywords. The job description is a good way to identify the relevant keywords you can include in your resume.

- Spell out acronyms and abbreviations. Use full meanings

- Avoid tables, charts, columns, images, graphs on your CV. Use simple formats for your CV so that the ATS can read your CV

- Use readable fonts — fonts that machines and humans can read. Font sizes should not be too small.

- Use the standard headings

- Don’t use header or footer in your resume. ATS can’t read headers and footers

- Save your resume in Word or PDF format.

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