Whether it’s applying for a summer internship, an associate position, or a permanent job after graduation, you will eventually be faced with writing a cover letter. While your law school hopefully provides support for the basics of cover letter writing, we here at Law School Toolbox wanted to share with you our top six cover letter tips. These tips will help you write an effective cover letter that catches the eye of any recruiter. Enjoy!
1. Put the Pieces Together
What material are you submitting for this job? A writing sample? A resume? Make sure that your cover letter adds something different to your application and doesn’t just repeat information from each of these other elements. Your cover letter needs to be the bridge between your resume and the job listing. Explain to the person hiring how the skills they are seeing on your resume translate to the job listing. Don’t assume they will make the connection themselves – make it for them. This is especially true when applying for jobs to which you are not an obvious fit.
2. It’s Not All About You
One key distinction you should make in your cover letter is talking about how you will benefit the company, not just the other way around. While you want to spend some time showing you know about the employer, spend more time on the parts where you describe what you will do for the them. The difference is spending less time saying “working here will give me such great experience” and more time saying “as a member of the team, I can bring these skills to the table and help the company reach its goals.” The person hiring you is not looking to help you polish your resume, they want someone that will help their company.
3. Remember It’s a Job
Demonstrate your understanding of the work required by the job itself. A hiring manager won’t be fully convinced if your cover letter is all about the fact that you want to join the company because of its great culture. They want to know the reasons why you can successfully do the job. Find a balance between showing you understand the company, describing how you can make it better, and explaining that you understand that hard work is required and can do it.
4. Promote yourself
There is a big difference between “I think I’d be a good fit for the company” and “I have the experience and skills required for this job and will use them to help the company reach its goals.” If you don’t communicate why you are the best candidate, the person reading your cover letter will have less incentive to figure it out themselves. One tip to help you break through to promoting yourself is pretending the person reading the email already likes you. This thought should make you more comfortable writing your cover letter to someone you don’t know. If you write like you have already made an impression and they like you, you should be comfortable with making that forward suggestion that you are the best candidate. Push yourself over that line to convince them you’re the one. Hype yourself!
5. Showcase Your Work
If you have written something that was published or you recently wrote an A+ paper, make it available to the hiring manager if possible. There is no better way to convince them of the quality of your work than having them see it! This goes for any skills of yours that you are promoting – if you can show them, do it.
6. Exceed Expectations
When a manager posts a job, they are looking for a particular skill set. You don’t have to only appeal to that skill set if you can in fact offer more! Show your commitment and value to them by being prompt with email replies, courteous, and doing all of the optional parts of the application. Dedication is something an employer always values. Show them you have it!
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