Developing self-marketing materials (resume, cover letter, portfolio)

As career and employment trends change, so must the tools used to communicate a candidate's talents and skills. Students will learn current techniques to showcase their career 'assets' effectively to reach employment goals. Based on time available and instructor preferences, this presentation can be done:

  • as a general overview of self marketing materials and how they work together to introduce a candidate, deliver relevant background, and offer independent verification of a particular candidate's suitability for a particular position, or
  • as more in-depth, hands-on exploration of one of the components outlined below.


Preparing a well-written resume is essential to 'win' an interview. From this presentation, students will gain an understanding of how a resume works to provide insight into a candidate's job specific capabilities — the basis on which employers choose to interview candidates.

The presentation will cover ideas and strategies for developing a strong resume, review the key purpose of a resume, pros and cons of resume types, optional and required parts of a resume, the importance of structuring information and wording to showcase relevant strengths, skills and experiences as well as do's and don'ts of resume writing for today's opportunities.

Students will come away with format alternatives they can use to develop their own resume to best highlight their unique skills, abilities and competencies to set them apart from other applicants.

Cover letters and other employment writing

This presentation will focus on the role of cover letters and other written correspondence in the job search process. Students will review similarities and differences between resumes and cover letters and will discover guidelines to help them distinguish between effective and ineffective communication with employers. Students will learn about the basics and more, including words and expressions to avoid when developing compelling cover letters to help them get attention among a sea of candidates.

Cover letters, follow up letters, thank you letters, letters of inquiry, resignation and acceptance letters, networking communication and more may be discussed, depending on the time available and focus or needs of your class.

Building career — employment portfolios

Portfolios aren't just for artists and writers anymore. This informative presentation will explain how to begin building a portfolio, organize it towards an employment goal and effectively present it to a target audience. It will answer questions such as "What should a portfolio look like?" "How many pieces does it include?" "How can portfolio pieces be 'created'?" and "Is an electronic portfolio right for me?"

Students will learn the differences between a career-employment portfolio and those used for other purposes and gain valuable tips on the best way to present themselves to potential employers. Students will view a sample portfolio and be presented with information about goals, job-hunting and creating portfolio pieces that will help them begin to decide what's most effective for them to include.

References — How to choose them, use them and keep them

To most job seekers, the role of a reference and his or her responsibilities are part of the great unknown. This is true despite the fact that references can make or break a candidate's attempt to get the job they want.

In this presentation, students will learn the difference between references and reference letters, who may be used as references and etiquette around contacting prospective references and making the request. Students will also leave with an understanding of what goes on during a reference call as well as a discussion of common reference issues.