Things NOT To Say In A Resume In Canada

Sometimes Black, Brown and underrepresented job seekers include information on their resume which can lead to bias in the hiring process. This post will explore three things not to say on a resume in Canada, and when exceptions apply. We will cover:

  1. Your street address
  2. A photo
  3. Your objective statement

A note: bias in Canadian hiring and recruitment is unfair. We wish this article didn’t have to exist.

Bias in hiring and recruitment processes means the unfair treatment of marginalized job seekers. This certainly isn’t right or fair.

Unfortunately, it is very much the truth about how recruitment and hiring processes currently work. A quick search will reveal that employers are actively looking for ways to reduce bias in hiring and recruitment processes.

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On top of this, research shows, that unconscious bias and racism can play a big role in who gets hired.  As an underrepresented job seeker, this puts you in the difficult situation of trying to overcome bias in the hiring process.

The information which is included on your resume might be leading to additional and unnecessary bias in the hiring process.  As a result, it is important that the underrepresented job seeker in Canada delete information from their resume that may be causing damage to their candidacy.

3 things you should not put on your Canadian resume

Here are 3 things Black, Brown and underrepresented job seekers should delete from their resume to overcome hiring bias in their Canadian job search.

Don’t put your street address

According to Forbes, deleting your street address from your resume is a good idea.  Your street address no longer serves a function on your resume and may cause hiring bias. 

The street address was a resume requirement at one time, but this dates back to the days of the job search process including the use of snail mail. 

Employers used to send candidates rejection letters in the mail.  This is no longer the case with most job search correspondence taking place online and via email.  The street address just isn’t useful for the job search any longer. 

While a street address can seem inconsequential, it may something about your socio-economic status or cultural background.  It is common for a city to have areas which have certain reputations, either positive or negative. 

Your city will have certain streets which are perceived as affluent, poor, home to newcomers and international students, good areas or bad areas, etc. 

The tricky part here is the Recruiter or Hiring Manager will assign a judgement to your street address consciously or unconsciously, based on their own opinions and biases.

Given that the street address is open to interpretation and adds no value to your candidacy, Black, Brown and underrepresented job seekers should simply delete it from their resume altogether.

Exception:  Some online applications will require you input this information as part of your job application. 

In this case, you will likely need to provide your address to move forward through the screening process.

What is your street address saying about you? What assumptions might the Recruiter or Hiring Manager make, based on where you live?

Don’t include a photo with your resume

According to Indeed, it’s rarely a good idea to put a photo on your resume. Your physical appearance is not a valid input to a hiring decision. As a result, your photo does not advance your candidacy for a position. Don’t put a photo on your resume in Canada.

In fact, a photo on your resume might even make a Canadian Recruiter or Hiring Manager uncomfortable as organizations work to reduce hiring bias. 

Hiring processes in Canada will often aim to make decisions based on skills and competencies.  Many employers strive to make objective hiring decisions where personal factors such as race, gender, age and country of origin are not considered in the hiring processes.

With a renewed focus on diversity and inclusion, employers are becoming increasingly sensitive and aware of bias at all phases of the hiring process. 

When a candidate includes a photo on a resume, this puts the employer in the uncomfortable position of being privy to information which they do not want considered in the hiring process. 

As a result, it is not appropriate to include your photo on a Canadian-style resume.  In fact, some employers may automatically reject resumes with a photo to avoid any accusations of bias or discrimination.

Exception:  For public facing roles where the employer can show a certain look is required.

In this case it may be appropriate to include a photo on your resume. This can also be true for roles like Actors or Models. This would be rare, but possible.

This resume might look nice but it opens the candidate up to judgement based on his physical appearance. The photo may even make the Recruiter or Hiring Manager uncomfortable.

Don’t put your objective statement on your resume – it’s no longer useful

There was a time when it was appropriate to include an Objective Statement on your resume.  This section described the type of position you are seeking in your job search. Don’t put an Objective Statement on your resume in Canada.

The Objective Statement is no longer useful to a professional job search in Canada and can make you appear out of touch with best practices. This can lead the employer to make assumptions about your age and familiarity with cultural norms. 

The job search process itself has changed significantly since the Objective Statement was useful.  This statement was relevant during a time when job seekers were mailing in a general job application. 

However, today candidates will rarely submit a general application.  An online application to a specific position is much more common. 

As a result, it is pretty obvious to the employer which type of position you are seeking.  Evidently, this is the position to which you have uploaded your resume. 

Candidates should replace the Objective Statement with a Professional Summary.  A professional summary statement sits at the top of your resume.  It is a few sentences that succinctly describe your key professional accomplishments, as they relate to your target position.

Global Staffing Firm, Randstad explains why you no longer need an objective on your resume, claiming it’s a waste of space and provides information which is repetitive of your cover letter.

Exception:  If you’re brand new to the job market with no previous experience or making a career change.

In these cases, an Objective Statement might be helpful to clarify the reason for your application.  Be sure to use with caution!

Conclusion: Underrepresented job seekers should delete information from their resumes which are not valuable inputs to the hiring process. 

Unconscious bias and racism can play a big role in who gets hired.  As a Black, Brown or underrepresented job seeker, this puts you in the difficult situation of trying to overcome bias in the hiring process.

While this type of discrimination is not right or fair, it is a challenge you will likely face in your career.  Having an awareness of this equips you to put in place tactics to overcome it.

In this post, we’ve explored a few examples of bias that can show up on your resume.  On top of the points discussed, some candidates will even change their name to avoid potential bias

Shauna Cole

Shauna Cole is the founder of hirediverse.ca. She is a Human Resources Consultant and Instructor at the University of New Brunswick. She’s been featured by CBC, The Canadian HR Reporter, CareerBeacon, The Maritime Edit, Jobscan and more. She founded hirediverse.ca to connect underrepresented job seekers with employers who value diversity. Join her on LinkedIn or watch her videos on Youtube.