Cover letters are often an afterthought in a job search. They are written quickly, mainly to make an introduction. Legal professionals are trained to write and, in some instances, will write lengthy cover letters.
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 craft the perfect cover letter.
Tips for Writing Cover Letters
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
- What the ideal next step would be on your part.
Occasionally, an employer will include a length requirement for cover letters. As a best practice, try and keep your cover letter between a half of a page and one full page. Use short paragraphs to emphasize your main points.
2. Research the company
Employers are impressed when candidates take the 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.
Start with stating why you are applying (someone referred you, you’re responding to an ad, etc.). To prove that you are not recycling the same cover letter for multiple applications, try to make it as personal as possible. After you’ve introduced yourself, use information gathered from your research to support why you are applying and would be a strong candidate.
Explain what sets the company apart as a potential employer. Is it their company culture? Rapid growth? These are all examples of information you can gain from researching the company. Use social media as well as your typical Google search to find out information.
For example: “I have followed the success of your organization and am impressed by your growth rate of 55% last year.”
3. Persuade the Employer
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.”)
4. Write a Strong Conclusion
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.