Tips For Writing A Great Cover Letter

Sample Cover Letter

The Purpose of A Cover Letter

  • Allows you to convey strengths and experiences beyond those listed in your resume
  • Often serves as a preliminary writing sample
  • Provides you the opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants
  • Demonstrates your enthusiasm and fit for the employer and the position

What to Do

  • Write in general business letter style with a professional tone
  • Double and triple check for typos and grammatical errors • Limit use of sentences that start with “I”
  • Use active verbs whenever possible, avoid “ing” endings
  • Use persuasive language
  • Limit text to no more than 1 page, between 3 and 4 paragraphs
  • Use between 11 and 12-point font
  • Assure that font sizes and styles are consistent throughout
  • Make use of “topic sentences” to start off your paragraphs (e.g., “My legal research and writing skills have been well-developed through my prior and current work experience.”)

What Not to Do

  • Neglect to sell yourself to the employer by just regurgitating your resume in prose form
  • Convey a sense that you don’t know much about the organization
  • Use cookie-cutter text

How to Address A Cover Letter

  • Never address a cover letter “To Whom it May Concern”
  • If there is no recruiter listed in the job description, on their website or on nalpdirectory.com, contact the employer and request the name and title of the hiring attorney
  • As a last resort, a letter may be addressed to the “Hiring Coordinator” or “Hiring Committee”

Introduction

Who you are, what you want, connection to employer

  • Introduce yourself (year in school, name of law school)
  • Identify what position you are applying for and whether you have been personally recommended/ referred by someone they know
  • Briefly state why you would be a great fit for the position (1-2 sentences at most)

Body of A Cover Letter

Highlight interest in employer and skills related to the position

  • Briefly mention your interest in the employer and/or practice area
  • Address interest in the particular geographic location if outside your school location or city of origin
  • Keeping the job description in mind, discuss previous work experience, as well as degrees/ certificates/ or other credentials, volunteer experience, leadership positions, student activities, and/or relevant coursework.
  • Provide specific examples demonstrating how you acquired skill-sets requested by the employer, “Show don’t tell”
  • Emphasize strengths, not weaknesses
  • Persuade the employer to want to hire you by creating a connection between your past experiences and the work of the organization or the position available

Conclusion

Contact information and next steps

  • Briefly reiterate why you would be a great fit for the position
  • Mention attached resume or other documents requested by the employer
  • Include your contact information (email and phone number)
  • If you are applying for a position in a different city, let the employer know if you will be in town and available for an interview in the near future
  • Thank the reader

Submitting Your Documents to Potential Employers

  • Follow the employer’s instructions as to their preferred method of receiving application materials
  • For paper submissions, print on high-quality paper that matches that of your resume
  • For electronic submissions,
    • Be sure to convert documents to PDF to preserve formatting
    • Save documents with your last name and the type of document (cover letter, resume, etc.) as the file name

After Submission

  • In approximately 2 weeks, follow up with a call or email to the employer to confirm your application materials were received (unless application instructions request no such contact)