As a newly graduated paralegal or someone looking to transition into the legal industry, crafting an effective cover letter is crucial when applying for your first job. A carefully written cover letter can make you stand out from other candidates and help you make a positive impression on potential employers.
Tips for Writing an Effective Cover Letter
To make your cover letter stand out, it’s important to follow some best practices. Here are some tips to help you write an effective cover letter:
1. Make It Personal
Your cover letter should not read like a generic template. Instead, you should make an effort to address the person in charge of the hiring process by name. You can find this information in the job description or on the company’s website. Addressing the reader by name shows that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in the job.
2. Showcase Your Relevant Skills
When writing your cover letter, focus on highlighting the skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Verbs such as “organized,” “investigated,” “analyzed,” and “researched” can help demonstrate your skills and show how you can help the organization.
3. Customize It for Each Job
It’s tempting to copy and paste the same cover letter for every job application, but this is not advisable. Instead, make an effort to tailor your letter to each job you are applying for. This will demonstrate to the employer that you are serious about the position and have taken the time to consider how your skills and experience align with the job requirements.
4. Be Concise
Cover letters should be one page or less, and most recruiters will only skim them. Keep your cover letter concise and to the point. Use bullet points or short paragraphs to break up the text, making it more scannable.
5. Highlight Your Achievements
Don’t just list your skills – give examples of how you have used them in the past. For example, if you’re good at legal research, provide an example of how you assisted an attorney with a research project. Be specific about what you accomplished and the impact it had.
The Structure of the Cover Letter
The structure of a well-crafted cover letter should include the following:
Heading: Your Contact Information
The heading should include your full name, address, phone number, and email address.
Opening Paragraph: Introduction
The opening paragraph should grab the reader’s attention by explaining why you are interested in the position and how your skills and experience make you a good fit for the job.
Body Paragraphs: Showcase Your Skills
The body paragraphs should highlight your specific skills and accomplishments, and how they relate to the job you are applying for. Include examples of how you have excelled in prior legal internships, paralegal certification courses, or other relevant experience.
Closing Paragraph: Call to Action
In the closing paragraph, reiterate your interest in the position and thank the reader for considering your application. Provide your phone number and email address and let them know you’re excited to discuss your qualifications further.
Dos and Don’ts
Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when crafting your cover letter:
- Do some research about the company before applying.
- Do proofread your cover letter for errors, typos, and formatting issues.
- Do customize your cover letter for each job you apply for.
- Do be specific about your skills and accomplishments.
- Do follow up with the employer after applying to express your interest.
- Don’t use a generic cover letter.
- Don’t use long paragraphs or large blocks of text.
- Don’t speak negatively about prior employers or co-workers.
- Don’t forget to include contact information.
- Don’t fail to proofread your letter.
An effective cover letter can help you stand out from other candidates and land your first job as a paralegal. Remember to take the time to personalize your letter, highlight your relevant skills and accomplishments, and tailor your message to each employer. With these tips in mind, you can showcase your abilities and land that first paralegal job.
- Address the reader by name if possible
- Showcase relevant skills with verbs like “organized”, “investigated”, “analyzed”, and “researched”
- Customize your letter for each job you apply for
- Keep it concise and scannable
- Highlight past accomplishments with specific examples
Q: How long should a cover letter be?
A: Ideally, your cover letter should be one page or less.
Q: What’s the most important thing to include in a cover letter?
A: The most important thing to include in a cover letter is to showcase your relevant skills and accomplishments.
Q: Should you always customize your cover letter for each job you apply for?
A: Yes, it’s important to customize your cover letter for each job you apply for to show that you are serious about the position and have taken the time to consider how your skills and experience align with the job requirements.