Here’s a little known secret: A resume only talks about 20 percent of the information you need to impart in order to get a job. It reveals none of the remaining 80 percent of the information upon which hiring decisions are based. It does not speak to your personality, creativity, work style, work habits, or critical thinking. Rarely will a resume tell a hiring authority you are precisely the right candidate. Only a letter can reveal these things about you and more.
For all of these reasons, the letter you send along with your resume may be one of the most important letters you’ll ever write. To assist you in creating a winning cover letter
, let’s start with the basics.
TYPICAL NEWSPAPER AD:
Burks, Barks & Sharks seeks an experienced litigation paralegal for our South County offices. The ideal candidate will possess a B.A. degree and a certificate with at least 3-4 years’ experience. Must have excellent organizational skills. A team player is a must. Fax resume to Stacey Hunt, Paralegal Coordinator
A limited number of candidates will submit a resume with no cover letter. These candidates automatically limit their chances of consideration. A larger segment of responding candidates are likely to submit a letter along these lines:
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Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom
You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays
You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts
You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives
Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.