I recently read an article by a recruiter who very straightforwardly acknowledged that she often receives unimpressive application materials from job-seekers. This is often a non-starter and the result is…DELETE. When I say “unimpressive”, I’m referring to more than just the resume and academics – I am including and focusing on the cover letter here because the cover letter, which is typically the first impression a reviewer gets, is either poorly written or there is none.
Unlike submitting a cover letter through an impersonal online system to a firm, when a candidate self-presents to a legal recruiter it’s a golden opportunity to get the attention of a live person. A legal recruiter can be your strongest advocate in your career search.
Candidates expect recruiters make significant efforts on their behalf – and first impressions count. If candidates aren’t willing, able or savvy enough to realize how important this first stage of the screening process is, one naturally questions how they would present in an interview, how they would be to work with during the recruiting process, or how detail-oriented of an employee they would be. Don’t drop the ball now!
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH? The increasing use of email vs. snail mail has resulted in fewer cover letters than ever. Often, I receive email submissions with no cover letter or no introduction at all. It’s like throwing spaghetti on a wall – see if one will eventually stick, and get the attention of a recruiter who will see your value and help you get a good job? It’s not unusual to receive a resume with no explanation why the applicant is considering a job change or what position they seek. Those that really make me shake my head address me as the employer, rather than a recruiter. They clearly don’t even know where they are sending their resume! Not only does it require extra effort on my part to obtain this necessary information, but their apparent lack of basic understanding about this process often leaves me feeling that the lack of attention to detail reflects a lack of professionalism…and that is a real turn-off. Alternatively, perhaps the candidate has so much self-confidence that he/she believes that resume speaks for itself, but this is a huge assumption to make.
MATCH YOUR SKILLS TO THE JOB: Stunningly, I get numerous resumes from applicants who aren’t even attorneys. Anyone with basic internet skills and has visited our web site knows that we only work with attorneys. This seems either lazy or desperate to me – DELETE. What a waste of precious time on both our parts! Wouldn’t they research an employer before an interview? A candidate needs to respect my time as well as their own.
RECRUITERS ARE THE “GATEKEEPERS”. Candidates must pass our scrutiny in order to get in front of our employer clients. If your cover letter and accompanying materials don’t show thought, clarity, and relevant details at a glance, they just won’t make the cut. We want to help you get a job – that’s why we are in this business. Take the time to do a thorough and professional job if you truly expect to be taken seriously. Make YOUR first impression count!