Effective Business Cards, Cover Letters & Résumés
If there's one thing you do today, be sure it is to get yourself business cards. You do not have to have a job to have a business card; it is the cheapest form of advertising you can have. The website Vistaprint has free business cards that many lawyers have ordered. They look professional, although they have an advertisement on the back. Or go to Kinkos, or any other office supply store or printer. Include your name, Attorney at Law, perhaps one or two practice areas, an e-mail, a phone number, and the city in which you work. A street address is not necessary.
Cover letter and résumé writing is a straightforward domain to master. The trick is to get in the habit of quickly editing both of these based on the job you are looking for. The preferred length of a résumé is one page and it should be easily readable in an 11- or 12-point font. Likewise, your cover letter should be brief and to the point. Jeff Minzel gave an excellent presentation here at WSBA on this topic; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an article on cover letters and résumés written by Minzel, which includes helpful samples. He recommends writing a "super-résumé" that is several pages long. You then choose the experiences that best fit the job you are applying to. A summary of the points made in this chapter can be accessed by clicking on Cover Letters and Resumes.
Jeff Minzel offers a method for what should be included in paragraphs One, Two, and Three of your cover letter.
- Paragraph One indicates how you heard about the job and demonstrates enthusiasm and knowledge about the position.
- Paragraph Two explains why you are qualified for the position. Be sure to match your previous experiences to the position you are applying for. Use objective criteria about previous experiences/accomplishments, as opposed to subjective criteria about what a great person and talented employee you think you are. This way, you are proving your points based upon real experience.
- Paragraph Three summarizes these points, reasserts your enthusiasm, and offers ways that they can contact you.
This is, of course, not the only way to write a cover letter, but it can provide a useful structure for you to express yourself.