Cover letters are often an afterthought in a job search. They are written quickly, mainly to make an introduction. In some instances legal professionals, trained to write, will write lengthy cover letters that give too much information.
How then, do you get an employer’s attention while also writing a clear, concise cover letter? Use your training as a legal professional to:
1. Be clear and to the point
Keep your letter to one page and say only what you need to say:
- What you know about the employer and the needs of the organization;
- How your qualifications match those needs; and
- How you see the next step.
Employers are impressed when it’s evident that a candidate has taken time to get specific information about their organizations. It sends the message that you’re being selective and are not willing to work for just anyone. After stating why you’re writing (e.g., someone referred you, you’re responding to an ad, etc.), follow with your research using 1-2 sentences to highlight specific points.
For example: “I have followed the success of your organization and am impressed by your growth rate of 55% last year.”
Follow your opening sentences with recognition of the employer’s needs. Then lead to your specific qualifications that match those needs.
For example: “My extensive experience in working with corporations and in-house counsel can benefit your bottom line by helping you cut your outside legal costs. Following are additional qualifications that I can bring to your organization:” (Add 3-4 statements such as: Handled a wide variety of general business matters including drafting commercial contracts, regulatory work, and real estate transactions.)
Summarize the points of your letter and close with an open-ended statement that shows you’re expecting an interview (rather than passively saying, “I’ll wait for your call.”).
For example: “It would seem in our mutual interests to further discuss the knowledge, experience and demonstrated results I can bring to your open attorney position. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to a personal meeting to discuss this opportunity further.” This method for writing cover letters can set you apart from your competition. It is personal, professional, and shows thought and preparation. Job seekers have repeatedly received greater interest from employers when using this cover letter format.
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