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Know the Correct Content and Form for Your Paralegal Cover Letter

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The order of your remarks in your cover letter should be straight forward. The following format may be a helpful guide.
 
Know the Correct Content and Form for Your Paralegal Cover Letter
  1. Opening. Capture the reader's interest. Indicate where and how you found out about the job. If it was a newspaper ad, include the name and date of the paper, and the specific job for which you are applying. Some firms or organizations place several ads for different jobs in the same edition of the newspaper. If a mutual acquaintance referred you, be sure to include the name of the person. Also include a sentence or two about why you believe you could be an asset to the company.
  2. Middle. Make the reader want to meet you. You can do this by demonstrating how specific achievements or results make you uniquely qualified for the job. You can refer to some part of your resume or allude to a particular award or recognition you have received in the field. You may stress how a particular experience has provided you with useful insights into the field or job. It is also appropriate to refer specifically to the company's goals and objectives and how you could help meet them if you were hired.

This section is particularly important for those who feel that they do not have the specific (or preferred) qualifications stated in the ad, but can bring other positive qualities to the job. It is also an opportunity for those who have been out of the job market for some time or who are changing careers to emphasize what they can bring to the job from their own background and professional experiences. Remember, volunteer work should not be distinguished from paid employment. Your skills and achievements should be the focal point.


 
  1. Ending: Stimulate the reader to action. Request a personal interview, but leave the door open for you to make the call for an appointment, unless it is specifically stated that such calls will not be accepted. For example, you can end your letter by letter by saying "I look forward to discussing this position with you further and will call your office in a few days to request an appointment, if that is convenient for you." You must be alert to signals that would discourage you from calling or make you appear abrasive. You can usually sense what would be appropriate when you call to ask for an interview or if you call ahead of time to get a specific name.

You will, of course, want to add your own individual style to your letter, but some of the guidelines given above should help you set the tone of your letter, and offer a direction to follow.

The cover letter often can be the deciding point on who is selected for the interview. And like any other part of your job search strategy, how well you are prepared in getting the job is every bit as important as how well you are prepared for the job itself.

Now examine the sample cover letters included. Notice how they have enabled the various applicants to tailor their specific qualifications to a job. Also notice the skill involved in pulling out those achievements and credentials directly related to the job.

Think about your own specific assets and how you can best relate them in your own cover letters. Doing so can help you convince a potential employer that you could very well be the best person for the job.

When setting up informational interviews, you should also follow these guidelines. This type of letter is one you will send out as part of a mailing campaign.

How to Write a Persuasive Cover Letter: Do's and Don'ts

Do's
 
  1. Discover your unique strengths that could prove to be an asset to this particular employer.
  2. Focus on the specific achievements or skills you have developed in a recent job or situation (you may find these on your resume), and highlight them in your letter.
  3. Emphasize the positive qualities and relevant experiences you bring to this job-not what you don't have.
  4. Read the job ad very carefully. What are they looking for? Take note of the specific language used. How do they list the requirements, preferred or essential? If they are looking for someone with specific skills, be certain to mention, in the exact same language, what you have to offer them. Doing so will let them see how exactly right you are for the job!
  5. Close your letter with an action statement: How do you plan to follow up? Let your reader know when you plan to call and then follow through with your plan.
  6. Keep your cover letter to one page, with well-spaced paragraphs for easier reading.
  7. Proofread your letter carefully and be certain to spell names correctly and give the proper titles and degrees, if appropriate.
  8. Choose high-quality paper to reflect a polished, professional image. Remember: This letter is your introduction on paper. Use paper and envelopes that match the paper used in your resume, if at all possible.

Don'ts
 
  1. Do not cross the line from being confident to being overbearing. Let the tone of your letter indicate that both you and the company would mutually benefit from what you have to offer, not that this is a great career step for you.
  2. Avoid language that describes you in self-congratulatory terms, words such as creative, perceptive, or outstanding sound ego-inflating. Let others use those words in describing you. However, words such as energetic, detail-oriented, organized, or disciplined emphasize work-related qualifications and could be very effective in your letter, if they truly describe you.
  3. Avoid any statements about the field or why you entered it. You may have an opportunity to talk about this in an interview. On the other hand, you may emphasize that the job offers you an opportunity to build on skills and achievements from the past, even in a different field.
  4. Avoid graphics, colored paper, or anything that would cause your application to stand out in a negative way. Remember that this is a conservative profession.



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
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