How I started doing career advice: tailor your cover letter

In my “About” page, I said that I receive a lot of speculative job applications, and notice a common theme, in many (but not all). And that is that the cover letters are too general, and some even “copy / paste” from general law firm applications; a cover letter that mentioned a motivation to work at “your law firm” didn’t go down well when the recipient (i.e. me) works in house in a company’s legal department.
And when I meet candidates, many say that they have applied for hundreds of jobs and that I was the only one to have replied – my conclusion is that this approach to job hunting can cause a vicious circle of sending out too many e-mails and letters in an unfocussed way – which is a waste of precious job-searching time and energy.
Anyway, why am I the only person that responds? Because I really enjoy meeting potential candidates and working with them to help improve their job search. I suppose that it was a gradual process: I started to notice common themes in these applications and I know what impresses me and what doesn’t. So I began to reply with a few tips on improving the quality of the cover letter; the next step was that I started to offer up to an hour of my time after working hours to review motivation, interview technique, cover letters and cvs. I now work with the Law Faculty at Reading University on careers coaching.


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