It can be a challenge to recruit for a Bay Street job. Bay Street employers are unique and have their own quirks, which complicates the process.

If you’re applying for a job on Bay Street, there are three things that you need to avoid to increase your chances of being hired into the Bay Street employer or your choice.

1. Don’t Be Flashy

Toronto isn’t known for being a risk-taking city, and the same can be said of its business culture. Dress clothes are black, blue, brown and white. Jewellery is subtle and understated. People are friendly and warm, but rarely boastful or overly enthusiastic. While there’s certainly an argument in favour of Bay Street adopting a more progressive and dynamic business culture, at this time it is what it is. You, as a job applicant, have to figure out a way to work within these norms.

A conservative business environment impacts how you communicate. When submitting a cover letter and resume to a job posting, you should always follow the Bay Street standard:

  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Font Size: 12 or 11 point
  • Margins: 2.54 cm (1 inch), although the top may be changed if you have a header
  • Colour: None—all black and white
  • Graphics & Images: None

Does this type of formatting make for a boring application? Yes. But it also means your application won’t distract the reader, and I can’t understate how easy if is for a reader to be distracted by formatting. If, in a stack of one hundred resumes, 99 of them use the same format and one uses unique formatting, then that one unique resume really stands out—and not necessarily in a good way. Uniqueness on a resume can be distracting, a jarring inconsistency from all of the other resumes.

When I speak of unique formatting, I’m not just referring to the use of Comic Sans font. “Unique formatting” includes resumes written in Times New Roman font size 10 rather than size 11 or 12, or cover letters with 0.75 inch margins rather than 1 inch margins. Any deviation from the norm, whether big or small, is noticeable and potentially distracting to the reader.

You don’t want flashy formatting to distract from your core message. Your core message should be conveyed through the words of your cover letter and resume. It is your words that help you stand out. Of course, your words shouldn’t be flashy, just like your formatting shouldn’t be flashy. Avoid cocky, boastful, or arrogant text. Stay humble, but don’t shy away from giving yourself the credit you deserve.

2. Don’t Lie

Bay Street Skyscrappers

While honesty is something you should strive for in general, it is especially important when applying to a job on Bay Street.

Bay Street is small. It’s even smaller when you break it down by sectors and sub-sectors. If and when you get to Bay Street, you’ll notice that you often encounter the same people over and over again, whether it be in the PATH, at the gym, or at any of the many social and networking events hosted on Bay Street.

The potential to have repeat encounters with people should be enough to keep you honest. But even if you don’t see someone again, chances are they didn’t forget about you. They may be talking about you without your knowledge. If you lied in a job application, then they may spread that lie to your current or future boss, colleagues or friends.

No lie is worth the potential damage it could do to your reputation. If your lie is discovered—and, in all likelihood, it will be—you could get snubbed from Bay Street. Gossip travels quickly through Bay Street’s close-knit community.

3. Don’t Avoid the Legwork

If you want to increase your odds of getting a Bay Street job, then you need to do more than just submit a generic resume and cover letter. To properly communicate your qualifications and interest in a job, you need to tell your story across multiple channels.

Toronto Bay Street TTC

This is where the power of networking comes into play. You should try to interact with at least one person at each business where you plan to submit an application. Thankfully, Bay Street’s small size can help you in your networking efforts—a small community means you can do a lot of networking without talking to a lot of people.

Networking is powerful. As a first step, it can help you assess your prospective employer and whether you want to work for them. Second, networking can help you focus your cover letter and resume because it will give you a better sense of what the employer looks for in prospective employees. You can use this information to tailor your cover letter and resume to the job.

Finally, networking gives your prospective employer a better idea of who you are before you even submit a cover letter and resume. This can give you a leg up, because the employer has already gotten to know you. These personal connections can make all the difference in the Bay Street recruitment process.


It can be difficult to break into Bay Street, which is why effective communication is so important. By avoiding three things—flashiness, lies, and a lack of legwork—you can maximize your chances of your message getting through to a recruiter and landing the job you want on Bay Street.

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