Saturday, July 26, 2008

quick cover letter advice

A commenting party asked HP about cover letters.  Here's the quick advice.  Remember, we spend very little time on them, but a typo may very well catch our eyes:

1. State your year in school or post-school (clerkship, etc).  "I am a second year student at XYZ Law School"

2. State what office of the firm you are interested in (if multiple offices are interviewing).  This may be combined nicely with your connection to the city "As a native New Yorker, I am interested in returning home to practice law, and am applying for a position in your New York City office."

3. Please DO NOT tell us a whole personal saga "Although I bombed my first year, it was because my dog died and I have my act together now."  TMI = too much information for HPs.  We do not want whining. We just want the very quick facts.  

4. Do point out anything unusual that demonstrates leadership or entrepreneurial skills, time management, working under pressure, etc. (e.g, military service, "worked 30 hours a week during college to defray tuition costs," "started business in college..." ) .  This can be especially helpful if your grades do not reach the cut off. 

5. Do point out a connection between your background/experience and the practice area or firm (e.g., IP practice and you have an engineering background; employment law interest and you interned at state anti-discrimination office).

6. Keep it short and sweet.  We skim.

7. Proof it.  If we skim and it has errors, we (or at least I) pass.

8. No funky fonts or paper.  Basic is fine.  

9. Please do not stalk us by calling/emailing, etc while we are screening.  Don't stalk the recruiting coordinator either.

10. Include good contact information -- hopefully not mom and dad's house - they love you but don't always relay messages correctly.   Cell phones and email addresses that you check often are good.  Sometimes we might have a question before we screen -- and might want to reach you.  Rare, but it happens. 


Anonymous said...

thanks a lot HP (I was the commenting party). Being that I am a first year involved in OCI right now I have been checking this blog every 2-4 hours haha.

lets see how long it takes career services people to point students over to this blog.

Anonymous said...

9. Please do not stalk us by calling/emailing, etc while we are screening. Don't stalk the recruiting coordinator either.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "stalk" here, but I landed three screening interviews last year, including the job I will be starting at in a month, by calling recruiting coordinators when I had not heard anything from them. In each case, they claimed my initial application had been mislaid due to [fill in office dysfunction excuse.] Had I not "stalked" these people, I might still be unemployed.

Anonymous said...

Great blog and helpful resource!

Federal law clerk here who'd love to hear your input on post-clerkship recruitment--when to apply, whether to go through a recruiter or apply directly, etc.