Applying for qualified solicitor roles - your cover letter
Before we take you through a step-by-step guide of what to put in your NQ cover letter, there’s a quick checklist. Firstly, make sure you’ve researched the firm and the job opportunity you’re applying for. Secondly, remember to keep things brief - cover letters are not CVs, and yours should not be more than ¾ of a page. Certainly no longer than this article. Now we’ve got that cleared up, behold your cover letter guide...
First things first
Start your cover letter with a formal address, i.e. Dear [person]. We highly recommend obtaining the full name of the person who will read the cover letter, and addressing it to them - this may be someone in recruitment or HR. The information will be available on the firm’s website, and it makes you look as though you’ve done your homework.
Next, you should state that you wish to apply for the role, including the full title of the job as advertised. It’s also good to say where you heard about the job, be it on a jobs board, on the firm’s website, or from a recommendation.
Once you’ve laid this information out (in no more than a sentence or two) you can launch into the important bit - who you are, and why they should hire you!
All about you
The second paragraph is your chance to introduce yourself: tell the recruiter what you do at the moment, how long you’ve been doing it, as well as your current seat or job title. It can refer to things detailed extensively in your CV, but it should be more of a reference guide than a repetition: tell the recruiter exactly where they should divert their attention once they open your CV by briefly summarizing your key professional achievements. It’s good to touch upon a couple of your professional highlights in this section, but back up everything you write - if you’re claiming to be an apt leader, finish the sentence by referencing a time you lead a team on a particular case.
Why should they consider you?
This paragraph is where you show that you’ve done your research. Take another look at the job description and the website of the firm, and decide what it is exactly that has prompted you to apply. Pick around three examples that stand out, and then link them back to yourself - how would you fit into this aspect of the job? What skills do you have that mean you fit the job description? Show that you understand exactly what the firm is looking for, and address the ways in which you fit the bill.
Before you finish your letter, you need to provide your current notice period, and state that you’ll be available for interview. There are a number of other logistical details you can include here, especially if you’ve got a few years of PQE under your belt. If that’s the case, include the salary you currently earn, and any other benefits you enjoy as part of your employment package, such as healthcare or a pension.
Finishing things off
That’s a wrap - almost! Conclude your cover letter with a brief sentence saying that you look forward to hearing from the employer. Follow this with “Yours faithfully” if you know the name of the person you’re writing to, and “Yours sincerely” if you do not. Alternatively, you could put a different salutation, such as “Best wishes” or “Kind regards”.
Finally, put your full name. A couple of lines below this, you may want to include a telephone number, for ease of reference, but this isn’t essential.