A cover letter is a one-page written document that explains the applicant’s interest in the job and company as well as their fitness for the role. It is submitted along with a resume describing the applicant's qualifications, skills, achievements for the position they are applying for.
It is also called a ‘motivational letter’ and ‘letter of introduction’. The cover letter gives more details about the candidate’s professional career and explains why they’re a good candidate. A well-written cover letter can help the candidate increase their chances of being invited for an interview.
Why are cover letters important?
Cover letters allow recruiters and hiring managers to develop a better understanding of the candidate’s suitability for the position. When the applicants send their cover letter along with a resume, it helps the hiring manager to see their:
Value: While resumes provide an overview of the candidate’s skills and experiences, cover letters allow candidates to give the hiring manager details about their accomplishments and skills as they relate to the open position, showing their potential value to the organization.
Potential fit: The candidates can mention their abilities directly to the job they're applying for in the cover letter, showing the hiring manager how exactly they'll fit in the role and organization as a whole.
Personality: A well-written cover letter gives the applicants the chance to show a bit of their personality by expressing their words.
Enthusiasm: The candidates should show their excitement and interest in the available position in a cover letter.
Cover letter format
A cover letter should be presented as a professional letter and include the following sections:
Body (Main) paragraph
Ending the letter
The cover letter should be one page in length and professional font such as Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri should be used. The size of the font should be 12 and the cover letter should be justified with single spacing one-inch margins.
How to write a cover letter?
Take a look at below given tips for writing a cover letter that will convince hiring managers and recruiters to call you (candidates) for an interview.
Step 1: Write out your contact information and the employer’s details
Step 2: Address the hiring manager
Step 3: Put a clear and targeted opening paragraph
Step 4: Write informative and relevant body paragraphs
Step 5: Finish with a brief, direct closing paragraph
Step 6: Sign off
Step 1: Write out your contact information and the employer’s details: You should include your contact information, date of application and recipient’s contact information like a phone number or email address. For example:
Your city and pin code
Your phone number/email address
Name of recipient
Title of recipient
Company name and address
Step 2: Address the hiring manager: You should adjust your greeting to include the name of the hiring manager. If you don't have their name, you can leave your greeting as, "Dear hiring manager," or "Hello hiring manager," or “Dear Sir/ Madam”.
Step 3: Put a clear and targeted opening paragraph: Write your opening paragraph to show why you're the best candidate for the job and express your interest in the position and organization. Include specific skills, experiences or accomplishments that qualify you for the position. This is the first and the most important section of your cover letter.
Step 4: Write informative and relevant body paragraphs: In this paragraph, you should give a brief overview of your background and your most recent professional experiences. Provide details about your success including measurable impacts you made there.
Step 5: Finish with a brief, direct closing paragraph: Write a closing paragraph that includes a final summary of why you're a great candidate for the job and the reasons you are applying for the role. Thank the hiring manager and recruiters for reviewing your application.
Step 6: Signoff: End your cover letter with a professional closing salutation like: Sincerely, Best Regards, Respectfully, Kind Regards. Provide one or two spaces between the salutation and type your full name.
Things to Remember
1. Always customise your cover letter - do not 'spray and pray'. Address each of the hiring managers and organisations by their names - do not generalise cover letters by using terms such as "yout firm", "your esteemed organisation", etc.
2. Make sure that the letters are written in good language and do a grammar check before sending them out.
3. Don't focus too much on yourself and forget to write about your sutability for the role and the organisation. Often, candidates reproduce their CVs into cover letters, which defeats the purpose of cover letters.
4. Keep your letter concise and to the point - do not repeat your statements or write each and every detail of your experience.
5. Don't go overboard with flattering the company/organisation you are writing to, to the extent that it comes across as not being genuine. Instead, show them that you have researched the job role, read the job description thoroughly and have made a well-informed decision to apply for the role.
Please see below links for sample cover letters for law internships:
Also see Sample Cover Letter for Law Job Application