For our money, the most annoying part about applying for a job is drafting the cover letter.
Is there anything worse than having to write three paragraphs about yourself that make you sound interesting and engaging without being arrogant, all while trying not to mimic what you already have on your resume?
We say no.
But, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, and noted by the ABA Journal for its legal link, “[A]pplicants who take the time to craft a cover letter stand a fair chance of setting themselves apart.”
A job hunter seeking an in-house legal position at a Dallas-based corporation used the cover letter to mention that he shared an alma mater with the general counsel and noted the cover letter recipient’s involvement in a local group.
Honestly, it’s frustrating that this sort of kissing-up (based on nothing more than a Google search) can be what makes the difference after three years of law school and actual firm experience.
But at this point, unemployed lawyers must do whatever it takes, and if that means noting that you and the hiring partner shared the same crim law professor 20-two years apart, so be it.
The WSJ points out other cover letter tips that are fairly self-explanatory — tailor it to the particular job, say how your experience lines up with the job position, don’t make grammar or spelling mistakes, and use it to put a positive spin on any lapses on your resume.
If that lapse is a time gap, however, discussing it in your cover letter might not be best for laid off associates. One legal recruiter we talked to suggested that the firm names and dates on a resume are explanation enough of an attorney’s tenure with a firm.
In other words, unless the unemployed associate has done something interesting and relevant in their time off, the recruiter thinks applicants should be specific about their experience, state want they want to do moving forward and, most importantly, keep it short.
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