What’s the Point of a Cover Letter?
With some resumes, a cover letter could be written on a wet napkin and the student would still get the interview. But cover letters are even more important when the resume is lacking in experience. This is the place wherethe student can show enthusiasm for the position. We know that employers are looking for experiences that show dedication, innovation, resilience, or just old-fashioned hard work. Analytical ability, leadership skills, or public speaking proficiency can all be highlighted. Cover letters should reflect those skills.
- The cover letter should not regurgitate the resume; instead, it should tell the story of the resume. By helping the student answer the following questions in their cover letter you can ensure that they are telling that story: Why is the student interested in this position with this firm? When talking about prior positions, the student should use a phrase like, “I distinguished myself by…” What sets them apart?
- Why is the student interested in this location (if not from the area)? Hopefully, it’s more than “I visited there when I was eight.”
- Does the student have any experiences that would make them ideal for the position? They should expand and explain how their job or life experiences make them perfect for the role.
- Does the student have any connections to the employer? Did they attend an event or speak with any current clerks or interns? Employers want to see that applicants have done their research. Something like “My classmate, X, enjoyed clerking at the firm this summer.” Or, “I enjoyed hearing Y speak at the Lawyer Lunchable event last month.”
What does the employer highlight on their website? Can that be tied to the student’s interests or experiences?
The cover letter should be addressed to the recruiting contact listed in the job description. ALWAYS have a name — the student can call the office anonymously and ask to whom the letter should be addressed.