There are other ways in which information about the position as well as the reader of your letter will help you: What is there about the firm that appeals to you? What is there about your background, skills, and interests that would make you an asset to the firm?
Your letter is an opportunity for you to highlight your specific qualifications. Do you have exceptional writing skills? Have you achieved distinction in any area that would make you stand out as a candidate, in a job, volunteer, or school situation? You can do this very tactfully by highlighting information that is contained in your resume.
Review your lists of accomplishments as well as your resume. You may find just the right piece of information to include in your cover letter.
Whether you are applying for a job that is listed on LawCrossing.com or any other place, including blind ads, your best chance for recognition will be the result of a clear, direct cover letter attached to your resume. A good cover letter is well focused and specifically tailored to the job for which you are applying. While you probably have a standard resume that you will include for all job applications, even in your mailing campaigns, every cover letter should be individual. To make this task easier, there are basic guidelines that apply to all the cover letters you write.
As a preliminary step to writing the cover letter, it should be helpful for you to think about the purpose of the letter: Who will be reading it? What do you want to achieve? How can you best do that? What will make your letter stand out from your competition so that the reader will see you as someone who has all the personal and professional qualifications he or she wants.
First of all, one of the basic rules of effective writing is to know your audience. This rule applies to writing cover letters. Will you be writing to a personnel manager? A paralegal manager? An attorney? Sometimes you can find out this information from the advertisement. If a name is given, you can call the firm and ask for that person’s job title. If a name is not given but a firm is listed, you can call and simply ask who will be reading the applications. Once you have that piece of information, you can tailor your remarks to what you think that person might be looking for in a candidate.
As part of your preparation, you can find out which attorneys you will be working for: the number of attorneys, their specialties, even their backgrounds, if that information is available.
All of this information will help to shape the facts you include in your letter. For example, if the position is one that reports to three attorneys, it would be important to emphasize your skills and experience in working in such a situation or in being able to handle multiple responsibilities, work with minimal supervision, manage your time, and set priorities when organizing your tasks. If this information is available, you will position at an advantage by including relevant details about yourself.
The following guidelines will help you as you prepare this important part of your job campaign.
“Dear Box 203A,” “To Whom It May Concern,” “Gentlemen,” and “Madam” are considered to be the least preferable. “Dear Sir” has fallen into the sexist language category, and it might work against you, particularly if the interviewer happens to be a woman.
Some appropriate suggestions included “Dear Personnel Manager” or “Dear Corporate Law Firm,” if you wish to be conservative but still remain professional. You may also eliminate the salutation completely or simply address the letter to “Dear Sir or Madam.”
Let good taste always be your guide, but if at all possible, find out the name of the person who will be reading your letter.
1. Demonstrate that you understand the requirements of the position and that you have the credentials as well as personal and professional qualifications to fulfill those requirements.
2. Include examples of specific results you have obtained that are relevant to the job. Reviewing your resume and work chronology charts will be helpful.
3. Focus on key points of your resume that emphasize your capabilities and experience.
4. Avoid any negative or apologetic remarks concerning qualifications you do not have for the job.
5. Be confident and positive about the qualities you do have, without sounding arrogant or boastful.
6. Emphasize how you can meet an important need of the company.
7. Do not ramble on or include any personal philosophical statements. Your letter should stand independent of your resume. It must be to the point and directly related to the job. It should motivate the reader to read your resume more carefully.
8. Keep your letter to one page in length. You will have time to expand your remarks and impress your interviewer in person. If that person is bored by a letter that is too long, you may never get to the interview stage.
9. Proofread your final letter carefully. Typographical errors, misspellings, or grammatical errors may cost you an interview.
10. Handle follow-up contacts with care and tact. A tactful follow-up call is permissible to see if your letter and resume have arrived. You may also request an opportunity for an interview; if that is not possible, you may ask when interview selections will be made. After that, you must be careful not to alienate a potential employer or interviewer by any kind of abrasiveness. The line between confidence and brashness can easily be crossed. Sometimes it will depend upon the employer. One may ask that you not call for an appointment; another may find it a sign of initiative on the part of the job candidate. You must learn to read the signals. After making your initial call to see if your letter arrived, you must listen to the response to see if further action on your part is warranted.
Slightly different strategies should be used for the interviewing stage.
The order of your remarks in your cover letter should be straightforward. The following format may be a helpful guide.
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.
3. 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. A sample letter is included in this chapter.
How To Write a Persuasive Cover Letter: Do's and Don’ts
- Discover your unique strengths that could prove to be an asset to this particular employer.
- 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.
- Emphasize the positive qualities and relevant experiences you bring to this job—not what you don’t have.
- 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!
- 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.
- Keep your cover letter to one page, with well-spaced paragraphs for easier reading.
- Proofread your letter carefully and be certain to spell names correctly and give the proper titles and degrees, if appropriate.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Study the sample cover letters on the following pages to help you as your plan your own letters.
Sample Cover letter for Real Estates or Mortgages position
2345 North Lake Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637
Ms. Marierose Masters
Midwest Realty Corporation
1822 West Madison Street
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Dear Ms. Masters:
Gary Adelman of your Finance Department has informed me of a paralegal opening
in your corporation. He believes that my background and training qualify me for this position and has suggested that I apply.
As a recent graduate of Roosevelt University’s Lawyer’s Assistant Program with a specialty in Real Estates and Mortgages, I have strongly developed skills in this particular area. In addition, I have had practical experience in working with a small realty firm, performing a wide variety of duties, including drafting financing documents, and landlord and tenant agreements and working with attorneys in handling closings, transferring deeds, and performing other related duties. Such training and experience could make me an asset to your firm.
I will call your office within the next week to set up an appointment to discuss this position at a time that would be convenient to you.
Thank you for your interest and consideration. I look forward to meeting you.
Sample Cover Letter To Be Included in Mailing Campaign for Paralegal Position in Litigation (Requesting informational interview.)
125 Crescent Drive
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15235
April 25, 2015
Mr. Michael Hiton Cooley,
Carson and Hall
225 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15209
Dear Mr. Hiton:
As one of the city's largest law firms specializing in litigation, Cooley, Carson and Hall can assuredly use the services of a paralegal with an excellent academic record and strong communication skills.
Recently, I received my Associate Degree in Applied Science from Erie Community College, with an emphasis in litigation. In addition to this intensive training, I believe that my studies in political science and English have prepared me for a successful career as a paralegal.
I would like to discuss the possibilities of an entry-level position with your firm and appreciate your consideration of my application.
Thank you for your interest, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sample Cover Letter in Response to Classified Ad for Paralegal Position.
320 Roswell Road, North
East Atlanta, Georgia 30062
Mr. Todd Beauchamp Adam,
Carnes and Warner 1700
Peachtree Road North East
Atlanta, Georgia 30326
Dear Mr. Beauchamp:
In response your ad in the Atlanta Constitution of June 23,1 would like to apply for the paralegal position listed by your firm.
Recently, I graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to the intensive paralegal courses, I received computer training and developed strong research skills.
My experience as a legal secretary over the last three years has also given me the opportunity to become familiar with legal procedures. Combined with my undergraduate studies, this experience and training should contribute to my effectiveness as a future paralegal.
I would like to discuss employment opportunities at Adams, Carnes and Warner and demonstrate how my skills and qualifications can meet your needs.
Thank you for your interest and consideration. I will call your office within the next week to set up an appointment at some time convenient to you.
Sheri L. Wilcox
Sample Cover Letter To Be Included in Mailing Campaign for Paralegal Position in Banking.
2801 West Oak Street
Southfield, Michigan 48075
Ms. Pamela Thomas First
Reserve Bank of Madison 654
Grace Street Richmond,
As a recent graduate of the American Institute for Paralegal Studies, I am seeking a position that would enable me to utilize my education, skills, and experience.
My background, education, and experience enables me, I strongly believe, to bring a wide range of qualifications to this position. For example, while teaching in the Southfield Public School System, I developed a community program that enabled gifted students to work in local organizations and companies. One such project specifically focused on the banking industry. For three years, I worked closely with all levels of banking personnel to determine ways in which young people could make a contribution to this important aspect of our economy. In doing so, I recognized that my educational background in accounting and additional paralegal training would uniquely qualify me to perform paralegal functions within this setting.
I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you about paralegal positions at First Reserve Bank and discuss how the qualifications I have described could make me an asset to your organization. If convenient, therefore, I would like to set up an appointment to discuss employment possibilities with you. Within the next few days, I will call your office to set up an appointment. Thank you for your interest and consideration.
Sample Coyer Letter Responding to Blind Ad for Paralegal Position
761 Washington Drive
Arlington Heights, Illinois 60001
Box 122, Chicago Tribune
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Dear Sir or Madam:
In response to your ad of June 14 in the Chicago Tribune listing an entry-level paralegal position, I would like to submit my application.
As a recent graduate of the Institute for Paralegal Studies at Loyola University Chicago, I believe that I bring strong qualifications to an entry-level position. My paralegal training has afforded me the highest level of education, with experienced instructors in the legal field. In addition, the emphasis on computer skills within the program reflects an understanding of the importance of technical expertise for legal assistants. In the generalist curriculum, I also developed skills in legal research, documentation, court briefs, litigation, business law, citing, and shepardizing.
My previous background in English and foreign languages has also added to my proficiency in all areas of written and verbal communication. I am fluent in Spanish as well as English and have used my language skills in business as well as personal settings. These skills, along with my background, training, and experience, could make me an asset to your organization.
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the paralegal position with you. Please contact me at the above phone number at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your interest and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sample Cover Letter for Paralegal Position From Someone Who Has Been out of the Job Market for Several Years
519 West Montrose Place
Sarasota, Florida 32433
Mr. Robert Allen Whitaker,
Strom and Bacon
820 Lakeview Boulevard
Orlando, Florida 32816
Dear Mr. Allen:
In response to your ad for a paralegal position in the Orlando Daily Times of March 23, I would like to submit my application.
Recently, I completed my certificate program in paralegal studies at Sarasota County Vocational Institute, with an emphasis in corporate law. This program enabled me to improve skills that I have developed in a home-based business I established several years ago. I not only worked with attorneys in setting up proper legal procedures but became aware of all aspects of tax law and filing for small business owners. In addition, I developed and utilized my communication skills, including interpersonal written, verbal, and computer skills. During that time, my interest in the legal field was also sparked, leading me to attain the essential skills I needed to follow a paralegal profession.
My extensive experience in working with the public has required me to be organized, disciplined, energetic, and self-reliant. I strongly believe, therefore, that my personal, as well as professional qualifications, uniquely qualify me for the position listed. I would welcome an opportunity to demonstrate how I can bring my organizational and problem-solving skills to your firm. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sample Cover Letter for Corporate Paralegal Position Listed in Blind Ad
22 North Wilton Drive
Richmond, Virginia 23232
September 12, 2015
Richmond, Virginia 23232
Dear Personnel Manager:
I am applying for the corporate paralegal position listed in the Richmond News of September 11, 2015. My background and experience in a legal setting, as well as in the business world, seem particularly appropriate, and I believe that my qualifications could serve the needs of your organization.
With an undergraduate degree in business, I have held various positions as a legal secretary during my undergraduate days and, upon graduation, in the accounting, finance, and business training offices of a major corporation in Virginia. During that time, I developed essential skills that enabled me to perform well within that environment. I came to understand the corporate culture and had the opportunity to use my accounting and business skills in various departments. As I moved into business training, I also developed strong interpersonal, written, and verbal skills.
My additional paralegal training on the corporate track has not only enhanced my interest in the legal field but has demonstrated to me how I can combine these interests with my education, background, and training.
I would welcome an opportunity to discuss how I can bring my skills and qualifications to your firm as an effective paralegal. Thank you for your interest and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sample Cover Letter for Career-Changer Applying for Paralegal Position
1220 Saxton Road
Fairview, New Jersey 07022
June 25, 2015
Mr. John Wilkerson Appleton,
Addison and Abrams
2300 Wharton Place
Morristown, New Jersey 07960
Dear Mr. Wilkerson:
In a recent issue of the Morristown Community News, I read of your firm’s renewed dedication to environmental issues. As someone with a strong commitment to the environment and the recent completion of a paralegal program that enabled me to develop training and background in this area, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss employment possibilities with your organization.
For years, I worked in community-based organizations as an advocate, public relations coordinator, and newspaper editor. During that time, I came to recognize the importance of public involvement in environmental issues but also realized the importance of gaining skills in this area, so that I could help to effect change in a very direct way. My paralegal training has provided such skills.
Combined with my organizational and communication skills, I now believe that I can bring a strong set of qualifications as a paralegal to an organization such as yours. Within the next week, I will call your office to set up an interview to discuss such a possibility, if that is convenient for you.
Thank you for your interest and consideration. I look forward to meeting you.
Sample Cover Letter for Career-Changer Applying for Generalist Paralegal Position
567 Martinez Drive
Houston, Texas 77045
May 15, 2015
Mr. Ralph Strauss
Strauss, Held and Holcomb
1220 Southwest Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77049
Dear Mr. Strauss:
The paralegal position listed with your firm in the Southwest Daily Herald (May 15, 2015) is one for which I believe I am well qualified. Please accept this letter as my application.
Over the last several years, I have developed a wide range of skills in varied settings that have enhanced the recent paralegal training I have completed and the Associate of Applied Science Degree I received at San Jacinto College. These include administrative, management, and strong written and verbal communication skills. Within a research office setting,
I was frequently called upon to work under deadline with several supervisors.
With my paralegal education and training, I would now like to utilize these skills in a challenging legal environment. The position described at Strauss, Held and Holcomb appears to be such a position, and I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this possibility.
I submit my resume for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Sample Cover Letter for Paralegal Position Listed in Law Journal
1232 Liverpool Street
Spokane, Washington 99209
Ms. Sarah Fulton
Estates and Wills Division
Northwest Savings and Trust Bank
Spokane, Washington 99201
Dear Ms. Fulton:
Annette Carmichael, of the Accounting Department of Northwest Savings and Trust Bank, has informed me of a paralegal position opening with your bank. She believes I am qualified to fill the position and has suggested that I apply.
As a graduate of Spokane Community College, I received an Associate of Arts Degree in Paralegal Studies. During that time, I developed a broad-based knowledge in all aspects of law, including estates, wills, and banking regulations. In addition, I was required to develop legal research skills, and analyze business law agreements.
I also completed computer training that could prove to be an asset in this position.
I am eager to begin my paralegal career within a stimulating environment that would enable me to utilize my skills and further develop my interest in the banking industry.
Within the next few days, I will call your office to set up a time to discuss this possibility, if that is convenient for you.
Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to meeting you.
Sample Cover Letter in Mass Mailing Campaign for Generalist Paralegal Position
238 Washington Avenue
Omaha, Nebraska 68120
Mr. Herbert Sullivan
Sullivan, Weiss and Thatcher
820 Jackson Boulevard
Lincoln, Nebraska 68504
Dear Mr. Sullivan:
As a recent graduate of The College of St. Mary with a Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Studies, I am currently seeking a challenging paralegal position that will enable me to use my education and training in the legal field.
In addition to the proficiency, all students in this program are required to attain in handling a wide range of paralegal responsibilities and duties, I took additional courses in computer training and written communication to enhance those skills that would make me an asset to any organization for which I would be working.
I believe I bring a strong set of personal qualifications to a position, including commitment, enthusiasm, flexibility, and reliability. On campus as well as in my varied work experiences, I have developed a reputation for being well-organized, disciplined, and hard working. I am eager to bring these personal and professional attributes to a stimulating work setting such as yours, and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss employment possibilities with your firm.
I will call your office within the next week to set up an appointment at a time convenient for you. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to meeting you.
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