Tips on Drafting Cover Letters!
January 14, 2011 at 11:05 AM
Your Absent Interview
Have you ever found yourself starting a blank Word document as you try to draft a cover letter? To get started, ask yourself, if a potential employer is looking at my resume, what else do I want him/her to know?
Think of your cover letter as an additional writing sample and a chance to demonstrate your persuasive writing skills. Dean Huebner suggests following the three paragraph format rule:
Topics for the First Paragraph:
Who referred you?
What school do you attend?
What year are you in school?
What position are you applying for?
When do you want to perform that job?
Helpful Phrases for the First Paragraph:
♦_______ recommended that I contact you regarding.
♦ With a background in ____ I am seeking opportunities to _____
♦ I am applying for a position as ________ (judicial clerk, associate, etc.).
♦ We met at the _________ in ______ (month).
♦ I am interested in applying for ____ (position) with your (firm/agency/company) because of (type of practice, ties to geographic location, reputation, etc.)
♦ My interest in (practice area) prompted me to contact you.
Topics for the Second Paragraph
What can you offer the employer?
Topic/ thesis sentence is important!!!!
Helpful Phrases for the Second Paragraph:
♦ I can offer your firm specific (experiences, courses) in_______
♦ My background in ____ might be of particular interest to you.
♦ Prior to law school I spent ___ years as ___.
♦ I developed strong _____ skills at/as _____.
♦ As you can see from my background, I have concentrated on obtaining experience in (field/art /industry) with my ultimate objective to obtain a position in (specific industry/field) . . .
♦ My academic achievements demonstrate that I produce quality work, work hard and am dedicated
to what I am doing. My GPA places me in the top (high ranking!) of my class . . .
What do you want to have happen?
What documents have you enclosed?
Helpful Phrases for Third Paragraph:
♦ Thank you for taking the time to review my qualifications. I look forward to talking with you soon.
♦ I will be in ____ between ____ and hope to have the opportunity to meet with you at that time.
♦ I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss my qualifications.
♦ I can be contacted at ____ and look forward to hearing from you soon.
♦ I would be happy to discuss arrangements for an interview.
Once you submit your application, Professor Michael Flynn recommends that you wait at least one week, but preferably two weeks before following up with an employer. After the initial follow-up, do not follow up again for another two weeks.
This blog post was drafted based on Dean Vicki Huebner, Professor Patricia Rauch, and Professor Michael Flynn's presentation on Jan. 12, 2011 titled "Drafting Persuasive Cover Letters and Outstanding Writing Samples."