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Cover Letters/Letters of Interest

Cover Letters/Letters of Interest

Cover letters or letters of interest are the letters that accompany a job application, either in response to a job listing or inquiring about the possibility of unadvertised work.  They provide a bridge between your resume and the specific employer.  Don’t overlook the importance of this valuable part of the job application.

 

General considerations

CDO counselors are always happy to review drafts of your letters. 

When applying to jobs through Symplicity, you are not required to upload a cover letter unless the employer requests one.  However, you may want to submit one if there is key information that may be crucial to their hiring decision (e.g., your geographic tie to their community) that is not already reflected in your resume.

 

Formatting tips

Cover letters and letters of interest almost always follow the same substantive structure:

  • Paragraph 1:  Explain who you are and why you are writing.
  • Paragraph 2:  Connect your skills and interests to the employer.  Draw from your resume, but do not regurgitate all of the information.  Be selective and concise.  Use brief, concrete examples.  Illustrate why you will be valuable to them.  Highlight your work experience, law school activities, volunteer experience, etc.
  • Paragraph 3:  Conclude.  Identify any attachments to your letter, if not already done.  Indicate what the next step will be.  For example, let them know when you plan to be in their area, or if you will follow up or be available for an interview.  Thank them for their consideration of your application or request.

See the basic format with annotations.

  • Keep the letter to one page, if at all possible.
  • Keep your writing simple.  Avoid run-on sentences and passive voice.
  • Avoid clichés, flowery adjectives, and colloquialisms.
  • Show a real interest in the employer.  Don’t just recycle their website.

 

Sample letters

 

Contacting an employer by email

Do not simply cut and paste your cover letter into the body of an email when contacting a prospective employer.  Instead, use a shorter, more direct message (see sample email).  Make sure to attach your resume and any other application documents in PDF format to avoid any formatting changes between computer programs.

 

Public interest cover letters

See the Public Interest Career Guide for excellent cover letter examples for public interest opportunities.