Make Sure Your Legal Job Resume Isn’t Tossed Into The Garbage
Many people view cover letters as a throwaway, something not requiring a good deal of time or attention. They assume that their stellar work experience, as expounded upon in their resume, will do the necessary work for them, dazzling recruiters and prompting a phone call for an interview, if not an immediate job offer.
The savvy job-seeker understands that the exact opposite is true, and that the cover letter can often catch a recruiter’s eye, while the resume often seems like just so many phrases to decipher and translate into that company’s requirements. The purpose of the cover letter, in fact, is not to rehash what’s already in your resume, but to take those skills and knowledge and turn them into a narrative that prompts the recruiter to think “hey, this is just the person our law firm needs!”
This is easier said than done, of course.
The most common mistake that job-seekers make when crafting a cover letter is in turning it into a rundown of what’s already in the resume. The sentences read like a resume, strung together in paragraph format. What exactly is this telling the recruiter? Nothing, other than the fact that you’re emphasizing the exact same job trajectory that’s outlined in your resume.
Then, most job-seekers fail to understand what the recruiter is really interested in knowing about. In other words, the cover letter becomes a reflection on the job-seeker and how wonderful he or she is, and how much he or she has accomplished in past jobs. This is great – except that it bears little relation to how great you’ll be in the position the potential company is recruiting for. One might think that this would be intuitive, and yet it requires the recruiter to connect the dots, to make a leap of logic that, quite frankly, they don’t have time for, and are disinclined to do. Particularly when they have hundreds of resumes and letters to plow
Your job is to make their job easy for them. Look at the job description, and if there isn’t one, get whatever information you can on the position and why it’s open. Find out what the company’s pain points are. Then, craft your experience in such a way as to address those specific points, outlining not just your impressive experience, but specifically how that experience translates into being able to get the job done for this firm. They have a backlog of cases that need to be gone through with speed and efficiency? Imagine that – this is something you’re highly proficient in, having done just that in your last internship. Make your case directly; cover letters that don’t make any kind of impression on the reader won’t get you anywhere, while stand-out letters demand attention, and receive it.
Your cover letter is your opportunity to sell yourself, and that’s how it should be viewed. Anything less simply says to the recruiter that you’re really not invested in what the firm has to offer, nor are you interested in helping them solve their problems. And that will never lead to a sale, no matter how impressive the merchandise is.