Do Cover Letters really matter?

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corporatelaw87
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Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby corporatelaw87 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:41 pm

I know when I was applying to jobs out of UG cover letters were required, but the consensus was that they were never really read and the firm/business just focused on your resume. Are the sentiments the same for when you apply for jobs in law school? I know they are still required by firms during OCI and during your 1L job search, but it's just frustrating when you spend a lot of time to write a good cover letter (maybe to make up for other things on your resume), and the people reviewing you just bypass it and look at your resume. So, if it's not too important perhaps just a general cover letter will suffice?

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thesealocust
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby thesealocust » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:42 pm

edit: n/m
Last edited by thesealocust on Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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HazelEyes
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby HazelEyes » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:44 pm

Yes.

I'm helping my boss choose my replacement now. Every résumé that comes in without a cover letter essentially gets tossed. If you can't figure out how to apply for a job, chance are you can't do the job. IMO.

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DavidYurman85
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby DavidYurman85 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:46 pm

+1 to sealocust.

it's also one of the first indicators of how well you write

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Barolo
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby Barolo » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:47 pm

Legal employers like to see specific interest. If they're going through a stack of resumes, I'd suspect that a well written cover letter that specifically outlines why you've taken an interest in them would help differentiate those who applied for A job and those who applied for THIS job.

But I'm sure some people don't pay too much attention to them. I won't be gambling on that.

corporatelaw87
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby corporatelaw87 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:25 pm

Barolo wrote:Legal employers like to see specific interest. If they're going through a stack of resumes, I'd suspect that a well written cover letter that specifically outlines why you've taken an interest in them would help differentiate those who applied for A job and those who applied for THIS job.

But I'm sure some people don't pay too much attention to them. I won't be gambling on that.



Thanks for the info. So, I assume that means for OCI and such you must write 20-30 personalized cover letters. How do you find time for that when you don't even know who your interviewing with until a week or so before you interview with them.

ChewbaccaDefense
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby ChewbaccaDefense » Thu Jun 17, 2010 4:40 pm

Cover letters are important in that you have to do them, but they can hurt you a lot if they're bad, and VERY marginally help you, if at all, if they're good.

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dood
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby dood » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:01 pm

redacted
Last edited by dood on Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dood
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby dood » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:04 pm

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Last edited by dood on Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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dood
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby dood » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:11 pm

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Last edited by dood on Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

heathbar88
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby heathbar88 » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:12 pm

HazelEyes wrote:Yes.

I'm helping my boss choose my replacement now. Every résumé that comes in without a cover letter essentially gets tossed. If you can't figure out how to apply for a job, chance are you can't do the job. IMO.



I'm a paralegal..my boss has been trying to find my replacement and also tosses resumes that don't come with some kind of cover letter. He's expressed that he doesn't understand why people would apply without one..especially in this economy..if they actually have any interest in the position. Seems like something you can't avoid.

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HazelEyes
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby HazelEyes » Thu Jun 17, 2010 5:19 pm

heathbar88 wrote:
HazelEyes wrote:Yes.

I'm helping my boss choose my replacement now. Every résumé that comes in without a cover letter essentially gets tossed. If you can't figure out how to apply for a job, chance are you can't do the job. IMO.



I'm a paralegal..my boss has been trying to find my replacement and also tosses resumes that don't come with some kind of cover letter. He's expressed that he doesn't understand why people would apply without one..especially in this economy..if they actually have any interest in the position. Seems like something you can't avoid.


Haha, good to know we're not the only snobby ones. I wish I could post some of the resumes we've been getting.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby Anonymous Loser » Thu Jun 17, 2010 6:51 pm

corporatelaw87 wrote: So, I assume that means for OCI and such you must write 20-30 personalized cover letters. How do you find time for that when you don't even know who your interviewing with until a week or so before you interview with them.


I don't understand what you are getting at with the bolded portion of this quote: any firm that is interviewing you is likely doing so because they have already received your cover letter and resume. Is there some school out there that does a completely blind OCI bidding process, where students are granted interviews without having first submitted a resume?

Renzo
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby Renzo » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:06 pm

HazelEyes wrote:Yes.

I'm helping my boss choose my replacement now. Every résumé that comes in without a cover letter essentially gets tossed. If you can't figure out how to apply for a job, chance are you can't do the job. IMO.

I've done some (non-legal) hiring, and can echo this. No/terrible cover letter=immediate shitcanning; I'd never get to the resume.

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RVP11
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby RVP11 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:25 pm

Do cover letters look bad without any kind of letterhead or address line?

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reasonable_man
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby reasonable_man » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:30 pm

As a person that has been in the position to hire people at a law firm, I can tell you that they absolutely matter. Will a great cover letter get you a job? Probably not. Will an awful cover letter screw you out of getting offered an interview? Absolutely.

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thesealocust
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby thesealocust » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:31 pm

edit: n/m
Last edited by thesealocust on Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Matthies
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby Matthies » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:35 pm

reasonable_man wrote:As a person that has been in the position to hire people at a law firm, I can tell you that they absolutely matter. Will a great cover letter get you a job? Probably not. Will an awful cover letter screw you out of getting offered an interview? Absolutely.


Agree, cover letters are more impaortant than resumes, if your cover letter sucks I'm not going to even bother to look at your other materails.

Aslo you should pwersonalize your cover letters for every firm, but you can do a template for most of the letter to save time then just personalize the relevant parts.

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Matthies
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby Matthies » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:36 pm

thesealocust wrote:
RVP11 wrote:Do cover letters look bad without any kind of letterhead or address line?


What I do is put an identical 'heading' on top of my resume and cover letter, which makes it look fancy, but otherwise there's no detailed address line other than a "dear so and so". I think it works well, you can then do the same thing on top of any other documents you submit, it looks professional and might help them keep things together.


I do the same thing in the header. But when you say no adress line do you mean you don't add the adress of the employer to the letter? I allways do that

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thesealocust
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby thesealocust » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:49 pm

edit: n/m
Last edited by thesealocust on Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

spondee
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby spondee » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:51 pm

Anonymous Loser wrote:
corporatelaw87 wrote: So, I assume that means for OCI and such you must write 20-30 personalized cover letters. How do you find time for that when you don't even know who your interviewing with until a week or so before you interview with them.


I don't understand what you are getting at with the bolded portion of this quote: any firm that is interviewing you is likely doing so because they have already received your cover letter and resume. Is there some school out there that does a completely blind OCI bidding process, where students are granted interviews without having first submitted a resume?


Yes, at the top schools, OCI is partially or completely blind.

At NYU, only about 2-3 government employers get to pre-screen. Other employers receive our resumes before interviews - but after interviews are assigned based on bidding preferences. They don't get to pre-screen.

But are we supposed to bring a cover letter to each interview? That seems odd.

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Matthies
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby Matthies » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:03 pm

thesealocust wrote:
Matthies wrote:I do the same thing in the header. But when you say no adress line do you mean you don't add the adress of the employer to the letter? I allways do that


I've been doing:

[Name]
[My address]
[My phone]
[my email]
---horizontal rule----

Dear releavant human,

cover letter cover letter cover letter

I just never felt like putting the address of the employer added anything, since it was all on its way in an envelope or email anyway. Is that a faux pas(sp?)


I think the letter should have the name, title, adress of reciver becuase that's stadard business letter form and i can't tell you how many letters I have gotten adressed to one person but the letter to anouther, at least if you put the adress on the letter there is less chance of that happening, but it still does.

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Matthies
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby Matthies » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:21 pm

here is how mine look:

Header:
Matthies M. Matthies (centered)
____________________________
my address, phone, email
(end of header)

Date

Mr. Joe Smith
Managing Partner
Smith, Jones and Kline
1234 W. 32nd Place
Denver, CO 80000

Dear Mr. Smith,

Paragraph one: who I am, why I'm writing, if anyone refered me, hook to get the person to read rest of the letter

Paragraph 2: What skills I have that the employers asks for, needs, can use. What I can do for the employer NOT what I can get out of working for them. Show I have done my research on employer and match my skills to their needs.

Paragraph 3: Close, tell the employer what I am going to do and when (i.e. follow up) how to get a hold of me and what I have included (in case some materials get lost)

Sincerely,

(signature)

Matthies
Enclosures

(I don't do an RE line since I ID in the first paragraph why I'm writing, responding to job add, seeking consideration, asking for informational interview, contacting because mutuital aqantaince said I should speak to you ect.)

Also I always include a cover letter, even if e-mailing materials, e-mail is NOT the place for cover letter stuff because it might not get printed and included in your file and its looks unprofessional when printed. Use e-mail to briefly say why your contacting them, what you have included and how to reach you then name your files Matthies - cover letter, Matthies - resume, Matthies - writing sample, Matthies - refances (and put in either word format or PDF I often say this in the e-mail in case they don't have the software (allot of firms use Wordpeferct or mac))

EDIT: you make a templte of this and just plug in the relevant info and peronlize it to save time

Renzo
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby Renzo » Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:40 pm

thesealocust wrote:
Matthies wrote:I do the same thing in the header. But when you say no adress line do you mean you don't add the adress of the employer to the letter? I allways do that


I've been doing:

[Name]
[My address]
[My phone]
[my email]
---horizontal rule----

Dear releavant human,

cover letter cover letter cover letter

I just never felt like putting the address of the employer added anything, since it was all on its way in an envelope or email anyway. Is that a faux pas(sp?)

:lol:
I am actually, literally going to start addressing things to "relevant human"

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Do Cover Letters really matter?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:46 pm

I asked the CSO office here this exact same question last fall. The CSO counselor I was talking to said that roughly 50% of large law firms actually take the time to read them. The problem is that no one knows which firms do read them, and which ones don't. The CSO counselor also told me she doesn't read them for people who apply to her law firm, unless there is something odd in your resume, which is when she will look at your cover letter for a quick explanation (e.g. if you didn't work or go to school for 2 years or something like that).




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