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San Diego State University

Career Services

Preparing a Resumé, Cover Letter, or Portfolio

As you prepare your job search materials, remember that you don't want to restrict your focus to your resumé and cover letter. Make sure you have an excellent online presence, as well.

Resumé

A resumé is a selective summary of your professional experiences and qualifications in the context of where you want to go next. It is not meant to be a comprehensive list of your every activity or accomplishment.

  • Review the Resumé Guide (PDF): Find instructions for resumés including an outline, checklist, and samples.
  • Use Action verbs to convey both achievement and enthusiasm in your resumé.
  • The skills you illustrate in your resumé must match the requirements of the job. Resumés serve as a marketing tool to get you to an interview. In a resumé tailored for a particular opportunity, you select the "message" of accomplishments that will show you are qualified for that particular job.
  • Create multiple resumés to suit a variety of opportunities. If you are applying to multiple types of jobs or multiple types of employers, you will likely find more success in your job applications by creating multiple versions of your resumé.
    • Because a resumé concisely summarizes your experience, education and skills as they relate to a specific career field or job, it is important that you are familiar with the industry, career field and organizations that interest you.
    • You will write a more effective resumé if you do this research and are informed about potential employers. 

As you develop your resumé, answer these 3 questions:

  1. What do you want to communicate about yourself as a professional?
  2. Who is your primary audience, and what do they need to know about you? 
  3. How will they receive the resumé (e.g., paper, electronic, plain text, modified via an online application system?), and what do you need to do to make the most of the medium?

Resumé dos and don'ts

Find tips on form, function, feedback and electronic formatting to help you create an effective resumé.

Cover letter

The increasing popularity of emailed, web-based and faxed resumés sometimes has people wondering if cover letters remain a relevant tool in today's job search. Generally, a cover letter should accompany each resumé you send out. Learn more about cover letters.

Portfolio

A portfolio is a portable collection of material that provides graphic evidence of your accomplishments, skills, and abilities and that documents the scope and quality of your experience and training. Learn more about portfolios.

Action verbs

For greater impact, be sure to use action verbs in your resumé, cover letter, and portfolio. Here are some examples of action verbs:

  • Accomplished
  • Achieved
  • Built
  • Completed
  • Invented
  • Investigated
  • Organized
  • Wrote

View an extensive list of action verbs to help emphasize your achievements and add impact to your writing!