Cover letter and Application form

Discussion in 'Applications Discussion' started by Malik91, May 26, 2020.

  1. Malik91

    Malik91 New Member

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    Hi all,

    I am applying to a firm which requires candidates to complete an application form and answer the following two questions:

    1. Please tell us about any skills or experience you have acquired that is relevant to the vacant position.

    2. Please tell us why you are applying for this vacancy and give examples of what you think makes you particularly suited to the job.

    On their website it states "Completed application forms and covering letters should be returned to XYZ"

    My understanding is that the two questions can cover sufficient information as there is no word limit for the questions. Therefore, I don't think a covering letter is required as well but the statement above re covering letter has raised doubts in my mind.

    Should I clarify this with the firm directly if a covering letter is required or submit a covering letter as well? If I am submitting a covering letter separately then what kind of information should I include?

    I would really appreciate some advice.

    Many thanks!
     
  2. Romiras

    Romiras Distinguished Member
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    It won't hurt to clarify with the firm as to whether a cover letter is required / expected.

    However, there are many things you can address in your cover letter that you may not necessarily touch by just answering those two questions alone. If you are given the option to attach a cover letter, use it strategically to address things that may fall outside the application (for example, your personal interests / investing / achievements / experiences that you could not include in your answers, etc).

    The cover letter length, and to a lesser degree its structure, depends on the firm. Some firms expect a fuller letter (Freshfields, Gibson Dunn, Travers Smith, Davis Polk, etc), whilst others prefer it very brief (Slaughter and May). Broadly speaking it should be this:

    1. Addressee's name + Address
    2. Your name + Address + Date
    3. Dear _____
    4. Para 1 - What you're applying for and some light context
    5. Para 2 - Why the firm
    6. Para 3 (Optional, depending on the firm) - Why you
    7. End
     
  3. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    Agree with this. If you have to upload the document then this is the structure you should follow. However, in my experience, if you are just writing the text into a box/form then you don't need the address parts of it
     
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  4. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Just want to add here that I would opt to add a brief 'why commercial law' above the 'why the firm para', provided you are applying for commercial law of course. It is also advisable to mention mitigating circumstances to explain any grades which were affected too in a cover letter. I would leave this mitigating para for the final one, before you make your closing sentence and sign off.
     
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  5. Romiras

    Romiras Distinguished Member
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    This is a good point. I should qualify that the 'Why commercial law' paragraph is an optional one (based on the firm) and it would be the 2nd paragraph. Other firms like Slaughters understand that it is implicit that you are interested in commercial law because you are applying to them and their scheme or training contract.
     
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  6. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Ah this is interesting, for the 2018/19 cycle they had advised to have a para on commercial law. Has this changed for the latest cycle? Would be good to know going forwards if this is their latest advice as I did not apply this time round :)
     
  7. Romiras

    Romiras Distinguished Member
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    I'm not sure. I've received various differing advice from different people (grad rec included). I know that in 2018, when I got my training contract offer, they had just changed their cover letter requirements to be 'slightly' fuller. Prior to that, you simply just had to write one paragraph on what you were applying for.
     
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  8. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Ah ok, yeah they did change the requirement because I think the advice used to be it could be very short indeed. I was told to include the commercial awareness para for them but kept it as short as I could :) I guess there’s no harm in including it provided the letter as a whole is still relatively concise and tightly worded :)
     

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