Posts Tagged cover letters

Highlights from our Public Interest Summer Job Search Webinar

by Kristen Pavón

Part one of NALP & EJW’s Public Interest Summer Job Search Webinar Series went great yesterday. Part one focused on resumes and cover letters.

The whole enchilada will be available on NALP’s website soon, but I wanted to share some of the wealth right away!

  1. Don’t leave out information on your resume that shows a mastery of complex tasks, even if it’s from undergrad. Mastering complex tasks is a critical competency for attorneys!
  2. One option for resume formatting is to divide your experience into legal and non-legal experience.
  3. Don’t leave out study abroad. It shows that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone.
  4. Be careful about adding interests to your resume. Most employers like them. It gives them a conversation starter for interviews.
  5. You education section should come right after your contact information on your resume, unless you’ve been out of law school for a while.
  6. Public interest resumes can be two pages long. Think about quality before thinking about quantity. Put everything on your resume at first, then omit from there.
  7. Don’t include an objective portion on your resume. It’s a waste of space and unnecessary.
  8. Don’t get artsy with your resume… Even if you were a graphic designer in a past life.
  9. Unless an employer asks for Word documents, convert your resume and cover letter to PDF before sending them off.
  10. Make sure you have a headline with your name and contact information at the top of your cover letter!
  11. Don’t get cutesy in your cover letter. This means, don’t start with a quote or with something like, “I’ve waited all my life to work at so and so.”
  12. In the first paragraph of your cover letter, include any connection you may have to the employer. For example, if you’ve worked there before or if an attorney who currently works there referred you to apply — put it in there.

If you thought Part One was good, wait until Part Two. Part two focuses on best practices in interviewing and in-person networking.

Presenters:

    • Nita Mazumder, Program Manager for Law School Relations, Equal Justice Works
    • Nicole Simmons, Career Counselor, The University of Texas School of Law
    • David Zisser, Associate Counsel, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

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Resume Rework: Avoid “Empty” Words

by Kristen Pavón

Last month, CareerBuilder.com released Jobology: 153 Ways to Improve your Job Search. The colorful, easy-to-read 20-page guide is full of quick tips on all stages of the job search — resumes, cover letters, tools for job searching, networking, interviewing, following up and what to do once you get a job offer.

Here are a few of the “nice-sounding (but empty) words” they say to avoid in your resume:

  • meticulous
  • motivated
  • detail-oriented
  • flexible
  • independent
  • innovative
  • successful
  • team player
  • people person
  • ambitious
  • creative

I’m guilty of using one or more of these words in my resumes and cover letters — I guess they are pretty overused…

Career Builder suggests using keywords from the job description and nouns rather than action verbs (Ex. “communications specialist” or “computer proficiency” over “managed” or “developed”).

Are you guilty of using these words in your applications? What are some alternatives to the words on this list?

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Landing an Interview: Ending Your Cover Letter on a Strong Note

by Kristen Pavón

Cover letter endings are tricky. In my PR courses, professors advised me not to leave the ball in the employer’s court at the end of my cover letter. So, I usually ended my cover letters with something like this:

I will contact you within a week to follow up on my application. However, you may contact me at blah, blah, blah. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

After starting law school and getting some feedback on my resumes/cover letters, I stopped being so “aggressive” and to the chagrin of my PR profs, ended my letters by gingerly placing the ball in the employers’ courts with the shamefully passive “thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Now, I’m rethinking this whole thing again.

I came across a post on The Nonprofit Times’ Jobs Blog about this very issue.

One of the most common mistakes people make when writing an ending is using passive language.  Here are a few examples:

  • “I look forward to hearing back from you in the near future.”
  • “If you wish to discuss my qualifications further, get back to me.”
  • “I think you will find that my qualifications really fit well with your position, and I hope to hear back from you.”

For me, the problem with these endings is that they show no initiative, no assertiveness, and no glimmer of perseverance!

On the other hand, I’ve heard that more assertive endings can give the employer the idea that an applicant is conceited.

The NPT Jobs blog suggests ending your cover letters on a confident and respectful note, like this:

  • “I will contact you within the week to follow up on my application.  Meanwhile, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or requests.  Thank you for your time and your consideration.”
  • “I have enclosed my resume, which will contain additional details about my qualifications.  If you have any additional questions, please contact me.  I look forward to discussing the job with you in the coming weeks.”
  • “Thank you for taking the time to review my credentials.  I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have at your convenience.”
  • “I appreciate you considering me for this position.  I will contact you soon so we can discuss my qualifications further, and see if we can find a time to schedule an interview.”

I tend to agree — by keeping the ball in your court (can you tell I miss basketball? When will this lockout end?!), you’ve set yourself up with an opportunity to talk with an employer and make another good impression.

What do you think? How do you end your cover letters?

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