Cover Letter Advice
The cover letter is a sample of your written work and should be brief (preferably one page), persuasive, well-reasoned, and grammatically perfect.
A good cover letter:
- Tells the employer who you are (e.g., a first-year student at YLS) and what you are seeking (e.g., a summer intern position);
- Shows that you know about the particular employer and the kind of work the employer does (i.e., civil or criminal work, direct client service, "impact" cases, antitrust litigation);
- Demonstrates your writing skills;
- Demonstrates your commitment to the work of that particular employer and converys that you have something to contribute;
- Shows that you and that employer are a good "fit;" and
- Tells the employer how to get in touch with you by email, telephone, and mail.
Determine to whom you should address the cover letter. If you are applying to law firms, address your letter to the recruiting director. For NALP member firms, use the NALP Directory to obtain contact information. (NALP also provides a useful mail merge feature for generating multiple letters). For other employers, you can refer to their websites, or contact the office to determine to whom your materials should be directed.
Although there are many ways to write a cover letter, the following format has worked well for students in the past.
- In the first paragraph of your cover letter, explain why you are sending your resume to the employer: “I am a first-year student at Yale Law School and am seeking a position with your organization for the summer 20xx.” If you are applying to public interest employers and are eligible for SPIF funding, you can mention that here.
- Use the second paragraph to explain your interest in the employer, including your interest in the employer’s geographic location, reputation, specialty area, or public service.
- In the third paragraph, stress why this employer should hire you. Elaborate on the qualifications that you possess that will make you an exceptional summer intern or attorney.
- The final paragraph should thank the employer for taking the time to review your application and tell them how to reach you. You may wish to state that you will contact the employer in a couple of weeks to follow-up and then actually do so. This is especially true with public interest employers who are often understaffed and will appreciate your extra effort.
Additional CDO Resources
Cover letter examples by industry
A good cover letter highlights the specific skills employers are looking for. Check out these cover letter examples for a variety of industries.
A great cover letter will show that you're the right candidate.
If you're wondering how to write a cover letter, you're in the right place! It doesn't matter what level you're at in your career—to get noticed by potential employers, your professional cover letter needs to knock their socks off. Your cover letter is much more than friendly greeting; it's a tool that lets hiring managers know that you're the candidate they've been hoping for.
Recruiters and hiring managers have seen every type of cover letter format imaginable. For maximum wow-factor, you must build a cover letter that highlights your industry-specific experience, accomplishments, and credentials.
Steps to write a cover letter
- Start with the proper greeting: Address your cover letter to the person who will be reading it.
- Introduce yourself with an opening: Write a personable, inviting opening paragraph that highlights how your skills are a perfect fit to the company and position.
- Get them interested with a compelling hook: Highlight your past achievements as they relate to the job you're applying for.
- Promote your skills: Highlight your additional relevant skills, such as computer languages or certifications.
- Thank them in the close: Briefly recap your strengths as a candidate, thank the reader for their time, and include your contact information.
If you need cover letter help, check out these cover letter templates for various careers and career levels in the following industries:
Administrative/Support Cover Letter Examples
Art/Design/Media Cover Letter Examples
Business Cover Letter Examples
Education Cover Letter Examples
Engineering Cover Letter Examples
Finance/Accounting Cover Letter Examples
Health Care Cover Letter Examples
Human Resources Cover Letter Examples
Job Search Cover Letter Examples
Law Enforcement and Legal Cover Letter Examples
Marketing and PR Cover Letter Examples
Military Cover Letter Examples
Nurse Cover Letter Examples
Restaurant and Hospitality Cover Letter Examples
Retail Cover Letter Examples
Sales Cover Letter Examples
Science Cover Letter Examples
Student Cover Letter Examples
Technology Cover Letter Examples
Trades Cover Letter Examples
Transportation and Warehousing Cover Letter Examples
Help hiring managers find your cover letter
When your cover letter is in good shape, don't let it just sit on your computer. You need to get it out there! Could you use a little help getting your cover letter in front of hiring managers? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume and cover letter—each customized to the kinds of jobs you're interested in. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Make it easier for them to find you, and for you to find a job.