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How to Differentiate Between Canadian & American Spelling

How to Differentiate Between Canadian & American Spellings

Although it might not be well known, there are subtle differences between Canadian and American spelling of many words, and when it comes to the job search, it could be the deciding factor in landing a job.

Misspellings or Different Spellings?

Nowhere was it more evident than at a job fair in Toronto several months ago hosted by two healthcare entities from the USA. A client, who is a nurse, heard of the job fair on short notice, and presented her resume formatted for the Canadian market.

After reviewing her resume and cover letter, the recruiter told her that her resume had “several spelling errors.” Of course, she was taken aback.

Some of the “errors” were Centre, Cheque, Honour, Judgement and Practised.

After she composed herself, she told the recruiter that the documents were created for the Canadian market, hence the spelling; that her Spellchecker would not have picked up the “errors,” and that she didn’t realize it made such a difference.

The recruiter also told her she was not aware there was a difference. In the end, these “spelling errors” did not cost her the job opportunity as she was offered a position and moved to Florida.

The situation could have easily been reversed with an American job seeker being tripped up by American spellings used in a resume submitted to a Canadian employer.

The Commonwealth of Spelling

As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly known as the British Commonwealth), Canada owes its “spelling allegiance” to the British. It’s the same in Australia and the English-speaking Caribbean islands.

In reality, though, Canadians tend to straddle the fence and use what’s convenient. If they are conducting a job search in the USA, then they use the American spelling, but that same resume could be used in Canada and not many people would notice the difference.

As a matter of fact, in the back of our minds, we sometimes wonder if the differences really matter. How else would one explain the fact that Canadian words such as analyze, categorize, customize and legalize are consistent with the American spelling where the “s” is substituted for a “z”?

For example, here is a partial list of all the words that are spelled differently in Canada and the US.

American Spelling

  • Acknowledgment
  • Behavior
  • Center
  • Check
  • Favor
  • Honor
  • Judgment
  • Practice
  • Licence
Canadian Spelling 
  • Acknowledgement
  • Behaviour
  • Centre
  • Cheque
  • Favour
  • Honour
  • Judgement
  • Practise (verb)
    Practice (noun)
  • License (verb)
    Licence (noun)

The aim of this article is to shed some light on some of the nuances that exist and help us adapt when job hunting – or reviewing resumes – on both sides of the border and internationally. The next time you are preparing your resume for the “other side” of the border (regardless of which side you are on), check to see if your spelling is consistent with usage in the target country.

Bottom Line

When in doubt about Canadian spelling and grammar, refer to The Globe and Mail Style Guide, and Gregg’s Reference Manual (Canadian Edition). American job seekers using Canadian spelling will look more knowledgeable about Canada as well as more interested in fitting in.


Article originally posted on Job-Hunt.Org

The Ups and Downs of Job Hopping

Last week I was sourced by Globe and Mail columnist, Wallace Immen, for his article on Job Hoppers Need to Look Before They Leap. Some recruiters or hiring managers will toss a resume if they notice too many short term jobs; others will be realistic and look for contributions made or value added in these positions. Although there’s a stigma attached to those who ‘job hop’, job hopping has its pros and cons.


  • It is not frowned upon as it was in the past, given the upheavals in the economy and the rippling effects on the job market.
  • It broadens one’s skill-set and makes the individual more marketable.
  • It allows the person to work in different environments and bring different perspectives of how things are done in other companies.
  • It gives the individual a wider network of people to tap into when seeking other job opportunities.


  • Because of the cost involved, employers are not going to spend time and money to hire someone they suspect will only be with them for a short time.
  • The potential employee could be seen as a bad decision-maker, a bad fit, or uncommitted, if he or she  is unable to give an explanation for the short tenure of these jobs.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of focus is placed on job seekers, because the reality is that more employers are hiring people on short-term contracts, which then contributes to higher incidences of job hopping. This common practice also breeds disloyalty as the employee develops this ‘one foot in, one foot out‘ mentality, because they know they can be laid off at any time without notice.

It is time that recruiters and hiring managers take a different approach to job hopping based on these realities and, instead, look for what each individual has accomplished during these short job stints. Job hoppers, on the other hand, who have a high performance record should ensure their resumes reflect the significant contributions they made at these different jobs. This will certainly help to divert attention from the number of jobs, to the accomplishments. Another strategy, though loathed by recruiters, is to use a functional resume format.

One thing that’s often overlooked is that job hopping is a choice for some individuals who consider themselves ‘free agents’ and who enjoy the flexibility to work from project to project then move on. What are your thoughts?