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Application forms and covering letters Kathryn McFarlane, Careers Adviser.
Careers course • Career Management Skills • CV writing • Application forms and covering letters - 22nd January • Interviews - Date TBA
Targeting your applications Your skills, experience and qualifications The overlap Their criteria
Comments from a recruiter - CLs What do you expect a covering letter to include? • Reason for applying to our firm • Highlight unique selling points What pitfalls should students avoid when writing covering letters? • Simply telling us what good law students they are • Having one letter for all firms! We can spot them!
Covering letters • Introduction - the purpose of the letter • Why them? / motivation • Why you? • Concluding comments Now analyse some covering letters...
Covering letters - general tips • Must not look like a standard mailshot • Must make it clear what you are after • Must be spell and grammar checked • If you were the recruiter, would you want to interview this person? • Remember - this will be the first document to be read
Comments from a recruiter - AFs What are the most common faults or mistakes on application forms you receive? • Students who only demonstrate legal abilities. We are looking for practical lawyers, therefore abilities other than the law are important. • Poor spelling • Use of correction fluid
Comments from a recruiter - AFs What recommendations would you give to students about how to impress on application forms? • Find something to highlight individuality e.g. work experience, personal achievement, a particular skill that could be useful in legal profession, e.g. engineering, medical or other practical skills. • Neat application • Answer all sections, even if only put NA.
Wide open spaces Please enter below any additional information in support of your application. If you require more space than is provided, please continue on a separate page.
Wide open spaces • Use recruiter’s criteria • Delete criteria already covered • Use your full range of experiences to demonstrate remaining criteria • Introduction and conclusion
Competence based forms • Explicit list of competences • Explore recruitment factors other than academic grades • e.g.: Describe a challenging project, activity or event which you have planned and taken through to a conclusion.
Competence based forms - DOs • Brainstorm a menu of activities before you look at the questions • Fit these into the questions • Brief answers • Show relevance of activity • Positive - plus keep the focus on you • Outcomes - what did you achieve?
Competence based forms - DON’Ts • Put in too little or too much detail • Use vague, verbose or woolly statements • Lose yourself in the situation • Leave the selector to guess why something is relevant
Application forms - remember: • Practice on a copy • Get it checked • Bring it to the Careers Service • Keep a copy - you can use ideas from it next time!