In general, when you work with a recruiter, you don’t need to write your own cover letter. The cover letter comes from us. But that doesn’t mean that you should skip the exercise of writing a cover letter entirely. It is important that you work with your recruiter to provide the prospective employer with any information that may be helpful in their marketing.
I shy away from giving candidates a detailed cover letter template. You don’t want your letter to sound too formulaic. It should be authentic and, if signed by you, in your voice. Even using the same cover letter to apply for multiple positions can be risky. The untrimmed cover letter is easy to spot.
Here are 10 tips to help you put your best foot forward:
Read the job description. Read it line by line. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of tailoring your cover letter to the job at hand.
Don’t just repeat what’s on your resume. You may just want to highlight the most important points on your resume, but you want to primarily include relevant information that is not on your resume.
Think of your cover letter as a first-round interview. What questions could you expect? You want to address the following:
on. Why do you want to take a step and why do you want to work here with us specifically?
b. Why might you want to move to the new city? What personal or professional ties do you have with the new location?
c. Why might you want to move from a company to an internal position? Above all, your cover letter must answer the question “How will you add value to our company / company?” Remember in your cover letter and in your interviews that it is not about you. It’s about what you can do for them. A potential employer is shut down by candidates who only talk about how this move will advance their own careers. Remember the old saying “Show, don’t tell.” Give specific examples of your relevant soft skills:
on. What specific skills or experience do you have that qualify you for this job?
b. What do you bring to the table that makes you unique?
c. Why should we hire you instead of your competition?
Give your cover letter a basic structureFor example, an opening sentence / paragraph, your “arguments” and a conclusion. Your cover letter will contain content information, but will also be assessed as a representation of your writing and communication skills.
Try to find the appropriate recipient’s name. I am always turned off by the letters “To whom it is directed”. If you are applying for a side law firm and your grade year Highlight this for promotional purposes that are different from your JD year.
Proofreading. Absolutely no typos!
Your cover letter, whether from you or your recruiter, should not be a resume summary. It should add color and personality to your application, allow the reader to see you as a real person, and answer the question, “Why should we hire you?” Think of it as an exercise screening interview.
Will a good cover letter really move the needle? Realistically, this can only affect a small percentage of applications. But why not give the best to every application?
Ed. Note: This is the latest in a series of contributions from the Lateral Link team of experts. This post is from Abby Gordon, Senior Director at Lateral Link, who works with candidate lawyers at law firms and in-house research, primarily in Boston, New York and Europe. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Abby spent seven years as a corporate associate at Cleary Gottlieb, focusing on capital markets transactions for Latin American clients in New York and the last five years for European clients in Paris. Abby is a Boston native and has a JD cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center and a BA in Government and Romance Languages magna cum laude from Dartmouth College. Abby also worked with the International Rescue Committee as a Fulbright Fellow in Madrid, Spain. She is a member of bars in New York, Massachusetts and Maine and is fluent in French and Spanish (and speaks Portuguese and Italian). You can find more articles from Abby here.
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