We know that you hate it, but it has to be done. Writing a cover letter is one of the most challenging parts of finding a new legal position. Luckily, we’re here to help with a few tips that will make the process much simpler – we promise. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have an enviable cover letter in no time.
1. Make it short and sweet. A cover letter should be no more than ¾ of a page. Understand that no one reads every word. Most people will simply skim. Anything more than five or six paragraphs will be overwhelming and may likely end up in the trash can.
2. Keep the interesting information visible. As mentioned, no one really reads a cover letter word for word. Instead, they skim the information and pick out the most interesting parts. As a result, you should make the key points very visible. In most cases, you’ll want the key points to be in the first sentence of the paragraph. Don’t bury your strengths in the middle.
3. Cover things that aren’t covered in the resume. The cover letter shouldn’t simply be a repeat of all of the information in your resume. The cover letter should either further explain information you listed on the resume or it should contain additional information that may be useful for this position.
4. Tailor every letter. No one wants a form letter, and people can see through that in a second. Make sure that each cover letter is personalized to the person or the firm (if you aren’t sure who will be reading). Explain why you’re interested in the firm and how you can help the firm. Make connections between yourself and the firm. You have the exact experience they’re looking for, or you can bring a book of business or you’re a graduate of the law school where the hiring partner went to school.
5. Explain how you can help them. It’s important to sell yourself in the cover letter. Don’t tell the hiring partner what you want, tell the hiring partner how you can fill a need that the firm has. The hiring partner wants to see that you can solve her problems or help where the firm needs help. She won’t care what you want – she is much more interested in what she wants. Point out all the reasons how you can help her and the firm.
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