Résumés & Cover Letters

Your résumé and cover letter are your professional marketing materials. They highlight how your strengths and skills align with the job and needs of the organization. The resources below can help you write effective résumés and cover letters.

Getting Started

Résumés tell your professional story in a way that demonstrates to employers how you are a good fit for the position and company. Below are resources to help you get started.

What to Put in a Résumé

Recruiters usually spend only 6 seconds reviewing a résumé. Learn how to make your résumé stand out.

Your Experiences

Your Skills

  • Career Readiness Skills - In college, you develop career readiness skills that prepare you for success in professional workplaces. These skills are developed in every major. Review these skills and the sample behaviors to better describe your experiences.
  • Reflect on Your Skills (presentation) - Use this presentation to brainstorm the skills you develop in college. A brainstorming template is provided in the presentation. 

Your Strengths

  • Strengths Assessment - This strengths assessment provides a free top five report that some find comparable to Clifton Strengths.
  • Cultivating your Professional Identity (presentation) - Your lived experience is valued by employers and your cultural knowledge and skills can enhance the workplace. Review this presentation to brainstorm your community cultural strengths and related work skills to better describe your college experiences.
  • Community Cultural Wealth (video) - This video series can help you brainstorm your strengths using the six community cultural wealth categories.

Your Professional Brand

A professional brand is how employers see you in your major and career. It reflects who you are as a professional. You demonstrate your professional identity in your classroom assignments and campus activities. These experiences are included on your college résumé, portfolio, job applications, and in job interviews. In the résumé, your professional brand can be included as a headline and/or summary. Use these tools to get started.

The résumé for college students and recent graduates highlights your experiences on and off campus. It includes what you have done in the classroom and how you explored your academic and career interests. You can describe these experiences by writing about your accomplishments - what you achieved, what you overcame, and what made you proud in your past experiences and projects. Below are resources to help you write your résumé.
Review our College Résumé Sample (handout) and use our College Résumé Review Rubric (handout) to evaluate how to improve your résumé.
For more information on writing your college résumé, review the materials below.

Now that you have written a general résumé, it's important to customize it to each position. Employers want to see information on your résumé that directly applies to the job position. Your résumé is not a biographical list of experiences. It contains only the information that aligns with what the position duties require. Do not limit your résumé to only the qualifications of the position; be sure to read the position responsibilities and align those to your past experiences. Use these resources to customize résumé to each position you seek.

Now that you have reviewed the position you seek and have customized your résumé, you are ready to write the cover letter. Just like your résumé, your cover letter must align with the responsibilities of the position and the organizational goals. Below are resources to help you start your draft.

LinkedIn is an online social network for professional networking and career development. Employers may search LinkedIn to confirm your experiences. You can use LinkedIn to display your résumé and college portfolio, search for internships and jobs, connect with alumni, and meet working professionals. When creating your LinkedIn profile keep in mind it should not look like other social media profiles. You should take a business approach with your photo, about section, and experiences. Use the resources below to get started.

Résumé and Letter Builder

We provide an online résumé and letter builder called Skills First. This AI-feedback résumé builder helps you create keyword-optimized résumés. You can submit your résumé for AI review and for review from our peer career advisors. Additional support is available in drop-in sessions and group appointments.

Log In: Résumé & Letter Builder

Additional Support

Career advisors, students and campus mascot Eddie smile while at a booth outside the Career Center

For help with how to write and improve your documents, sign up for a group appointment with our career advisors. Schedule an appointment with a career advisor.

We offer workshops throughout the year to help you build your skills in writing professional résumés and cover letters. Sign up for workshops on the Career Center calendar.

Employers host events where you can learn more about what they prefer to see in a résumé and cover letter. They also come to campus to provide résumé reviews. Sign up for employer events using Cal State LA Handshake.

We provide professional headshots with our self-service photo booth. Cal State LA students, faculty, and staff can take professional photos to use on platforms like LinkedIn.  Learn about the photo booth.