Cover Letters/Letters of Interest
Cover letters or letters of interest are the letters that accompany a job application, either in response to a job listing or inquiring about the possibility of unadvertised work. They provide a bridge between your resume and the specific employer. Don’t overlook the importance of this valuable part of the job application.
CDO counselors are always happy to review drafts of your letters.
When applying to jobs through Symplicity, you are not required to upload a cover letter unless the employer requests one. However, you may want to submit one if there is key information that may be crucial to their hiring decision (e.g., your geographic tie to their community) that is not already reflected in your resume.
Cover letters and letters of interest almost always follow the same substantive structure:
- Paragraph 1: Explain who you are and why you are writing.
- Paragraph 2: Connect your skills and interests to the employer. Draw from your resume, but do not regurgitate all of the information. Be selective and concise. Use brief, concrete examples. Illustrate why you will be valuable to them. Highlight your work experience, law school activities, volunteer experience, etc.
- Paragraph 3: Conclude. Identify any attachments to your letter, if not already done. Indicate what the next step will be. For example, let them know when you plan to be in their area, or if you will follow up or be available for an interview. Thank them for their consideration of your application or request.
See the basic format with annotations.
- Keep the letter to one page, if at all possible.
- Keep your writing simple. Avoid run-on sentences and passive voice.
- Avoid clichés, flowery adjectives, and colloquialisms.
- Show a real interest in the employer. Don’t just recycle their website.
Contacting an employer by email
Do not simply cut and paste your cover letter into the body of an email when contacting a prospective employer. Instead, use a shorter, more direct message (see sample email). Make sure to attach your resume and any other application documents in PDF format to avoid any formatting changes between computer programs.
Public interest cover letters
See the Public Interest Career Guide for excellent cover letter examples for public interest opportunities.
Letter of Interest Examples and Format
A letter of interest, also known as a letter of inquiry or a prospecting letter, is sent to companies that may be hiring, but haven't listed a specific job opening to apply for. You can use a letter of interest to see if the company has any job openings that would be a good fit for you. You might also use a letter of interest to arrange an informational interview with someone at the company.
A letter of interest is a great way to get your foot in the door with a company you are interested in.
Read below for advice on how to write a letter of interest, as well as sample letters of interest for a variety of circumstances.
How to Format a Letter of Interest
Contact person. First, try to find someone specific at the company to send the letter to, such as an executive in a division you’re interested in. See if you have any connections at the company through family, friends, or former colleagues. If you know someone at the company, write directly to them. You could also ask that person for a referral to a hiring manager.
What to include in the letter. Your letter of interest should contain information on why the company interests you and why your skills and experience would be an asset to the company. Use the letter to sell yourself, explaining how you would add value to the company.
Letter conclusion. Conclude your letter by explaining that you would like to meet with the employer to explore possible career opportunities.
You might even suggest setting up an informational interview if there are no current vacancies at the company.
Include your contact information. In the conclusion, provide information on how you can be contacted if the company is interested in following up with you.
Keep your letter short and to the point. You want to get your point across quickly and clearly, without taking up too much of the employer’s time.
Take a look at these detailed tips and templates for how to write a letter of interest before you start writing your own letters.
How to Use a Letter of Interest: Examples
It is a good idea to review letter of interest examples before writing your letter. Along with helping with your layout, examples can help you see what kind of content you should include in your document (such as examples of your skills and experiences).
You might also look at a letter of interest template to get a sense of how to lay out your letter, and what to include (such as introductions and body paragraphs).
While examples, templates, and guidelines are a great starting point to your letter, you should always be flexible. You should tailor a letter to fit your work experience and the company you are contacting.
Letters of Interest, Letters of Inquiry, and Prospecting Letter Examples
Review these sample letters of interest, inquiry letters, and letters of introduction to get ideas for your own letters.
Email Letter of Inquiry Examples
Cover Letters vs. Inquiry Letters
A letter of inquiry is different from a cover letter. In a cover letter, you explain why you are a strong candidate for a particular job (rather than in a letter of inquiry, where you explain why you would be an asset to the company more generally).
A cover letter is used when you are applying for a specific job opening with an employer.
Read More: Top 10 Cover Letter Writing Tips | What to Include in a Cover Letter | Email Cover Letters | Sample Cover Letters