July 17

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Cover Letters That Get Lawyers Interviews: Trends and Tips

By Greg Yates

July 17, 2020


Cover Letter That Get Lawyers Interviews Work At Desk

Cover Letters That Get Lawyers Interviews - Trends and Tips

An excellent cover letter is an essential tool in your job search. It will show your interest in a specific job, draw attention to your unique qualifications for that job, and allow you to request an interview.

A well-written cover letter should be personalized and capture the attention of the reader, inspire him/her to read your résumé, and drive the reader’s desire to interview you. 

Don’t forget that your résumé and covering letter are a package deal. Employers use these documents in tandem to decide about your application for a job. 

Besides being personalized and persuasive, cover letters that get lawyers interviews should be organized, concise, and grammatically correct. An employer looks upon an r letter as a writing sample. A poorly formatted or constructed cover letter, or one containing grammatical or spelling errors, can be the kiss of death for your chances with that employer. 

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    Excellent Cover Letters Are Personalized

    The key to writing an excellent cover letter is to personalize your pitch for an interview.

    Use employer websites and LinkedIn to determine the hiring contact. There are almost no situations in which you could not, with a little digging, locate the name of a person to whom you should send your cover letter. If all else fails, call the employer to get the name, including correct spelling and gender, of the person.

    Personalizing your introductory letter goes far beyond addressing it to a person. Employers want to know why you have written to them and how you can contribute to their organization.

    Effective Cover Letters Are Well-Organized

    Your cover letter should provide clear evidence your decision to write resulted from a sincere interest and is an informed decision.

    Therefore, you must research the employer, and lay out clearly and concisely your “case” for why you are the perfect candidate for the opportunity and organization. 

    Cover letters with generic statements will set off a red flag in the reader’s mind. A properly tailored letter of motivation will emphasize certain elements of your background appropriate for the employer.

    If you have a personal contact within an office, mention your connection in the first sentence. Then, copy your contact on the correspondence or email to the employer so he/she is in the loop.

    Cover letters that get lawyers interviews should be three or four paragraphs; longer letters will go unread. A concise introductory letter is in everyone’s best interests. 

    In brief, your cover letter should tell who you are, explain your specific qualifications for a position, and express your interest in the position and employer.

    I discuss further the optimal content to include in each paragraph below in many of the online resources.

    Cover Letter Best Practices

    ● Your cover letter is a sales document, and you are the product

    ●  Always include a cover letter as part of your application package

    ●  Customize each cover letter for specific positions and organizations

    ●  No typos, punctuation mistakes, or grammatical errors - review, edit, and review again

    ● Have someone else review your letter of interest for typos, punctuation, and grammatical errors

    ●  Read your cover letter out loud as part of your proofing process

    ●  Keep your format simple and limit your cover letter to one page

    ● Use a 12-point sans serif font such as Calibri, Ariel, Cambria, or Garamond (same font as resume) and make sure your margins, font size, and use of abbreviations are all consistent

    ●  Use the same heading as on your resume - name, city and state, phone number, email, and LinkedIn URL

    ●  Include inside address with hiring contact’s name, title/position, organization, street address, and city/state/zip

    ●  Always write to a person, not “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam,”

    ●  Use Mr. or Ms. in the salutation with a colon after their last name

    ●  Don’t copy and paste your resume into your supporting letter; paraphrase to tell you value story

    ● Use the three-paragraph cover letter format - introduction / why interested, why qualified / value added, reminder of value / next step

    ○     Introduce yourself by telling why you are interested in the job, any connections at the organization, and how you can help the organization

    ○     Showcase your skills, knowledge, and accomplishments as they relate to the job requirements and employer’s pain points - may be broken into two paragraphs

    ○     State how you are ready to contribute immediately and request an interview to show how you will add value

    ●  Nail your first sentence as the opening to a storyline running throughout the cover letter

    ●  Include keywords in the job description and qualifications/requirements in your application letter; use a free online word cloud program if uncertain about the essential keywords for a specific position

    ● Cover letters that get lawyers interviews quantify your skills and accomplishments that relate to the position

    ●  Appeal to the employer’s self-interest by demonstrating you researched the employer and stating how you will fulfill their needs

    ●  Use the word “I” sparingly and avoid beginning sentences with “I,” when possible

    ●  Show enthusiasm and energy using language, style, and tone

    ● Don’t include any mention of references unless the references work at the organization or referred you to it (if so, mention in the first paragraph)

    ●  Close with “Respectfully” or “Sincerely” or something equally formal

    ● Use a digital cursive signature above your typed name, or sign and scan before submitting

    ● Use PDF format for cover letter and all application documents

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      Cover Letters That Get Interviews

      The Best Online Resources For 

      Cover Letters That Get Lawyers Interviews

      I summarize some of the better online resources for cover letters below.

      How To Write A Cover Letter That Hiring Managers Will Read

      This Forbes post is one of the best brief discussions of how to write an effective cover letter. It explains why you should always use a motivation letter as part of your application package and details the three-paragraph format favored by most experts. It also includes a list of items you should not include in your cover letter. 

      Top insights:

      “The cover letter is your opportunity to convert your résumé into a story about how you are uniquely positioned to address the organization’s needs.”

      Your cover letter is “an opportunity to show the prospective employer your writing skills, your ability to persuasively communicate a concise message and your professionalism and willingness to put forth a little extra effort.”

      “You need to include the narrative that best advances your message and eliminate redundancies or duplicate content that can be found verbatim on your résumé.”

      The Cover Letter Format that made my Job Application Response Rate go from 0% to 55%

      This post from Business Insider describes what we sometimes call the “pain letter.” This cover letter format differs slightly from the three-paragraph format used most often, although it is also usually three or four paragraphs. The pain letter is structured as follows.

      First, look at the job description’s “list of responsibilities and ask yourself, Why? Why is this task important to this company? Keep digging until you can’t go any further. The true need is usually the one at the end of a chain of whys.” What are the organization’s pain points it is trying to address? If you can’t uncover the pain point, schedule information interviews to help you focus on the organization’s pain points.

      Then, agitate the pain point by reminding “him or her how painful the problem is, and by default, how valuable a solution could be.” 

      Finally, by “this point, you’ve got the hiring manager squirming at the table. Now, deliver the solution. Hint: It’s you.” Close the deal and get an interview by showing how you can help solve the organization’s pain.

      Cover Letters Are Hard to Write—But This Template Makes it a Breeze

      The author uses an annotated template to guide the discussion through a traditional cover letter in this post from The Muse.

      “There’s no arguing that it takes longer to compose a custom cover letter for each application than just changing out the company names in a canned one. But if you care about getting the job (and I hope you do, since you’re taking the time to apply for it), personalizing each one is the way to go.”

      The Perfect Cover Letter Template to Show Off Your Skills

      Another post in The Muse suggests an ideal cover letter format for people looking to transition their career into a different type of position, environment, or industry.

      Highlighting your transferable skills “shifts the conversation away from relevant experience and more toward whether you can do that job—and that is exactly what you want to do when you haven’t had a linear career path.”

      Figure “out which skills you want to emphasize by carefully reviewing the job description. Underline or highlight the most important technical and behavioral skills the position requires.”

      “Choose three skills that you feel are your strong suits to focus on. For each one, brainstorm some projects, assignments, or responsibilities that truly illustrate your expertise in that area, then select either one in-depth or a couple of shorter experiences to talk about.”

      How to Write a Cover Letter: The All-Time Best Tips

      This Muse post has 31 tips for what to include in cover letters and what to leave out. Gems include:

      “The cover letter should serve as an enhancer to your résumé and a supplemental marketing or promotional tool. It shouldn’t just restate everything on your résumé.”

      “Use your cover letter to tell the hiring manager about the value you can bring to alleviate the organization’s pain points, advance its strategic priorities, increase performance outcomes and support a high-performance culture.”

      “Don’t leave typos or grammatical errors in your cover letter. Check this again and again, and after you have proofread it three or four times, have someone else proof it for you if you can.”

      How to Start a Cover Letter: 31 Attention-Grabbing Examples

      Are you having trouble finding inspiration about how to start your cover letter? If you can’t get motivated to create a powerful opening after scanning this post from The Muse, we should talk.

      The Best Cover Letter Examples for Every Type of Job Seeker

      This post in The Muse explains when “you’re writing a resume you’re often confined by space, by resume speak, by keywords—you’re up against a lot of technical requirements, whereas in a cover letter you have an opportunity to craft a narrative that aligns you not only with the position you’re applying to but also the company you’re applying to.”

      The author of the post (and I) suggest you use your cover letter wisely to help “you explain your value proposition, stand out from the stack, and create continuity between your application and the person you’re going to be when you walk into the room.”

      The post contains samples of four types of cover letters, a traditional cover letter, an impact cover letter, a writing sample cover letter, and a career change cover letter. The job description the cover letter is written in response to is also included along with a downloadable Google Docs version of the cover letter.

      The post includes a discussion of the elements of a perfect cover letter and tips on how to get started writing your cover letter.

      7 Cover Letter Mistakes That Make Hiring Managers Cringe

      In this post in The Muse, not only are cover letter mistakes detailed but also “what to do instead” is explained.

      The seven mistakes are starting the cover letter with your name, rehashing your resume, not being flexible with the format, going over a page, over-explaining, focusing too much on education and training, and sharing irrelevant information.

      Sample Cover Letters from Stanford Law School

      This page from the Stanford Law School website includes sample resumes, cover letters, and deal/representative matters lists targeted at alumni.

      The sample cover letters include junior level lateral cover letters (litigation and post judicial clerkship) and mid to senior level lateral cover letters (two corporate and two litigation samples).

      While not agreeing with all elements of the sample cover letters, such as referencing the inclusion of a law school transcript (unless it was explicitly required for the application), the samples show you what a top law school is suggesting to its alumni as a cover letter format.

      Attorney Cover Letter Sample

      This post on Indeed offers the following tips and a sample mid-level attorney resume.

      “In a few sentences, explain why you’re a great fit for this specific role. State why you’re excited about the job and the company, and how the job matches your career goals.”

      “In one or two paragraphs, connect your past accomplishments with the requirements listed in the job description. Focus on your most relevant experience, qualifications, and skills. When possible, quantify your accomplishments with facts and data. Avoid repeating the bullet points from your resume.”

      “Close by thanking the employer for their time and consideration. You may also want to sum up your qualifications for the role and express an interest in continuing to the next stage in the hiring process.”

       What are you going to do differently in your cover letters after reading this post?

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        Greg Yates

        About the author

        I help lawyers revitalize their careers, in or out of the law. I assist them in finding the perfect job and creating their ideal career. I show lawyers how to excel in their careers and find personal fulfillment in their work by effectively marketing themselves and their services to potential employers and clients.My work helps attorneys develop a career path to success and prosperity. I act as a confidant, adviser, mentor, consultant, and business coach for big-thinking attorneys ready to embrace a career and life of passion, purpose, energy, and financial security.I am a keynote speaker, author of a career advice book and numerous articles, and business owner. I am also an attorney career, business development, and marketing expert.

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