Job Search Preparation

Cover Letter

Your cover letter is as important as your resume because employers will read it first! It must pique a potential employer’s interest. Be positive, brief, precise, and businesslike.  

There is no such thing as the perfect cover letter.You must write unique letters for each job application. It should highlight your qualifications as they relate to each employer’s specific requirements. When writing your cover letter, keep in mind:

  • Keep it short. One page only.
  • Write to a specific person. Use the person's name and title. Never use "To Whom It May Concern," "Dear Hiring Partner," or "Dear Sir or Madam."
  • State the position you’re applying for and how you learned about it, why you’re applying, your qualifications, and how you can contribute to the organization.
  • Make reference to your resume. Indicate that it is attached or enclosed.
  • State what action you want (an interview), and indicate what follow-up action you will take.
  • Use good quality bond white or off-white paper for both the resume and cover letter.
  • Check and recheck for accurate spelling and grammar. Do not rely on spell-check. 

 View our suggested outline of a cover letter, sample cover letter or sample clerkship letter below. For additional help, contact us.


Outline of a Cover Letter:


Your Address 
City, State, Zip Code

Date 

Title and Name of Contact Person 
Employer Name 
Address 
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. last name of contact person:

First Paragraph: Tell why you are writing; name the position for which you are applying, and tell how you heard of this opening. State why you are interested in working for this employer. If you have lived in the area or know it well, mention this. Specify your interests in the type of work the firm does. Describe what is particularly appealing to you about the employer.

Second Paragraph: If you have had experience, courses, publications, or clinic experience, be sure to point out what particular achievements you have accomplished in the employer's field or type of work. Indicate why you are qualified for the job. Emphasize pertinent items on your resume; add information that is not specifically mentioned on your resume. Include information that is pertinent to the job for which you are applying.

Third Paragraph: Have an appropriate closing to pave the way for an interview. Indicate your willingness to interview personally by stating when you will be in the area or by offering to make yourself available at the employer's convenience. You may wish to indicate that you will call the employer's office within a specific week to try and schedule an interview. Thank the employer for his/her consideration.

Sincerely, 
(leave 4 blank lines for signature)


Your Name (typed)

Enclosure


Sample Cover Letter:


123 Main Street 
Indianapolis, IN 46202 

December 1, 2012



Ms. Marilyn C. Employer 
Hammer, Wrench & Saw 
150 Market Street 
Indianapolis, IN 46204 

Dear Ms. Employer:

Please consider the enclosed copy of my resume an application for the position of law clerk with your firm. I learned from the Career Services Office that you plan to hire a first-year law student next summer. I was pleased to discover that your firm practices in the area of construction law because that area is of particular interest to me.

As the assistant office manager for Longfellow Construction Company, I was involved with some construction law issues. I find this practice area fascinating and would like to learn more about it, as well as the other practice areas of your firm. I enjoy researching and writing, as evidenced by my involvement with the school newspaper. I feel this trait would be an asset to your firm.

I am extremely interested in the summer law clerk position with your firm and would appreciate the opportunity to further discuss this matter during an interview. I can interview at your convenience. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, 


Fredrick Firstyear


Summer Clerkship Cover Letter:


123 Main Street 
Williamsburg, VA 23186

December 1, 2012

Mr. John A. Employer 
Red, Orange & Yellow 
456 Market Street 
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Dear Mr. Employer:

Please consider the enclosed copy of my resume an application for the position of law clerk with your firm. I learned from Professional Development that you plan to hire a first-year law student next summer. I was pleased to discover that your firm practices in the area of municipal law because that area is of particular interest to me.

As an intern for the city of Indianapolis during college, I helped create and evaluate the citywide facility needs assessment survey. Participating in this survey gave me a greater understanding of the Indianapolis community even though I have lived in the city all my life.

I am very interested in this position and would appreciate the opportunity to further discuss this matter during an interview. I will be in Indianapolis over the mid-winter break, December 15 through January 9, and can interview at your convenience. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Sincerely, 


Philip B. Firstyear