What You Need to Know about Cover Letters

( 17 votes, average: 3.8 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Enclose a covering letter whenever you send your resume to a prospective employer. While it rarely gives any information that is not included in your resume, the letter is an act of courtesy and a sign of a serious and professional approach to job hunting. It gives each employer a feeling of personal attention.

It makes no difference whether you send the resume in answer to an ad or as part of your direct mail campaign. The covering letter always follows the same simple rules. It should be brief-limited to one page and no more than four paragraphs. Unlike the resume, it should never be reproduced. It should be neatly typed and conform to the standards of business correspondence.

Whenever possible, address the letter to a particular individual in the firm. If you cannot ascertain the name, address the letter to the partner in charge of hiring, or, by title, to the head of the department that you are hoping to work in. In answering an ad, however, address your letter as the ad indicates. If this is nothing more than a box number, don't try to guess the title of the person who will be seeing your resume.

The first paragraph of your covering letter should tell why you are writing to that particular firm. If it is in answer to an ad, then give the name and date of the publication where the ad appeared. If a friend who is an employee of the firm has suggested you apply, give the name, title or job category, and department where employed. If writing as part of your mail campaign, explain in two or three lines why work with that company interests you.

The following one or two paragraphs should point out salient features of your resume that could be of interest to your correspondent. These could be items in your educational background or your work history. In certain circumstances, elaborate slightly on one or two details in your resume. However, whatever is said should be said briefly.

The last paragraph should be a closing, indicating your hope that you have created interest in yourself and suggesting further communication to arrange an interview.

Since your covering letter highlights certain aspects of your resume, tailor it to stress your most appropriate skills and talents, and gear it to each particular company that will be the recipient of your resume. Not only does this call immediate attention to your assets, but it personalizes the letter. We believe that a covering letter accompanying a resume gets more attention from recruiters and personnel people than an unaccompanied resume, so be sure to always use one in your job search.

See 6 Things Attorneys and Law Students Need to Remove from Their Resumes ASAP If They Want to Get Jobs with the Most Prestigious Law Firms for more information.

About Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is the founder of LawCrossing and an internationally recognized expert in attorney search and placement. Harrison is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.

About LawCrossing
LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.

Featured Testimonials

LawCrossing is a perfect legal job site and I would highly recommend it!


LawCrossing Fact #241: We go out of our way to tell you which jobs are the best in the market.

Let's Do It!

Only LawCrossing consolidates every job it can find in the legal industry and puts all of the job listings it locates in one place.

  • We have more than 25 times as many legal jobs as any other job board.
  • We list jobs you will not find elsewhere that are hidden in small regional publications and employer websites.
  • We collect jobs from more than 250,000 websites and post them on our site.
  • Increase your chances of being seen! Employers on public job boards get flooded with applications. Our private job boards ensure that only members can apply to our job postings.
About Harrison Barnes

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

Success Stories

I was incredibly happy with the site. I thought it was very easy to use; had significantly more postings than any other site (or combination of sites); and provided a lot of useful information. (the number, and caliber, of job postings). Exactly what I was looking for – I have 5 years’ experience and was looking for a lateral move or an in-house position, and that’s exactly what I found!
  • Sarah E. Potter Louisville, KY