Cover letter conundrum

Discussion in 'Vacation Schemes and Training Contracts 2020+' started by Jai C., Jul 5, 2018.

  1. Jai C.

    Jai C. Esteemed Member

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    Firms like Slaughter May, Jones Day and White Case are amongst the few that an applicant is required to write a cover letter as part of their application.

    I am just confused - Do I need to introduce myself and say what stage I am at - (I just think all my information will be present in the application form so why waste precious words in introducing myself)

    But this is just my viewpoint - if anyone has written a cover letter for such firms - Please let me know how did you start it?

    Any advice that you can share will be heavily appreciated
     
  2. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Hi Jai,

    That's a fair point. I agree, generally, the cover letter should include information that isn't answered by your application form.

    I would sometimes introduce myself in my cover letters (Slaughter and May I did, White & Case and Jones Day I didn't). If I did, I would keep it short: usually, a couple of lines where I'd mention what stage I was at and what I was applying for. This is optional though. You can definitely just go straight into your answer.

    PS: I just saw your email, I hope this answers your question!
     
    #2 Jaysen, Jul 5, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
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  3. MightyMoe

    MightyMoe Star Member

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    For Jones Day, I didn't do an intro. The word count is really short on that one so it seemed better to go straight into it.
     
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  4. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    Hi! I'm also facing this conundrum. Do we have to use a template - with addresses and format as such?
     
  5. Salma

    Salma Legendary Member
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    Ideally, yes, however, I have spoken to GR at firms such as JD and White & Case, who both have said it is not necessary.
     
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  6. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    Great, thank you Selma.
     
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  7. AJ

    AJ Legendary Member
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    Already been well answered. From my experience, I’ve generally used the word count and format of cover letter as a guide.
    An intro has always usually been in my first draft, but by the end of the final draft when I’m heavily cutting word count then I take it out.
    JD I would suggest definitely not to include as there are only 300 words and I’m sure there are better things to use those words for such as skills. Where you’re attaching a word/pdf doc as a cover letter (perhaps separately to a CV) I.e slaughters, it may be good to include a short summary incase your cover letter is possibly viewed independently of your CV by someone at some stage.
     
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  8. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    Thank you, that is really helpful! I am only applying for first year events - so I'm not sure if that makes the approach any different. But thank you nevertheless.
     
  9. Maddie

    Maddie Active Member

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    Just a heads up on the Slaughters CV and cover letter. If you want to be really fussy, I was advised to use a font similar to Times New Roman when applying because they are a more traditional firm. I also went to a Slaughters recruitment event at my university and they said that the cover letter only needs to be one or two lines long. This is (literally) what my cover letter said and I interviewed in March 2018:

    Dear X,

    Please find attached my Curriculum Vitae for the Slaughter and May 2020 training contract.

    I look forward to the opportunity to discuss with you my application and suitability for the training contract.

    Yours sincerely,


    Y
     
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  10. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Very interesting, thanks for sharing.
     
  11. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    That is interesting! I have heard mixed things. I spoke to a member of Graduate Recruitment this month about Slaughter and May's covering letter and they recommended between a page and a half to a page - and that was for the open day! I asked about content and they mentioned the usual (a bit of why applying to Slaughters and then something not on your CV). But I have equally heard what you have mentioned Maddie! So I am quite confused!

    If anyone could shed some like of this I would be very grateful! Please bare in mind I am only applying to the first year open day so it may differ.
     
  12. Nicole

    Nicole Legendary Member
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    I've often wondered if this was a game from Slaughters (not really, but still!). The website is so clear that the cover letter should be brief and yet I've met many students who have been told to write a few paragaphs. And then the opposite from other students!
     
  13. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    It is strange. What do you think would be the safest option for me writing a cover letter for an open day? I know it is less disastrous if it goes wrong, but nevertheless.
     
  14. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    I mean I asked the team this directly last week and they say half a page - a page, short why Slaughters and then something to draw attention to!
     
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  15. Nicole

    Nicole Legendary Member
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    Hmm, if it was me, I would probably go with what they said. I would feel like my CV is not enough to be a strong application. But maybe @Maddie has another perspective?
     
  16. Maddie

    Maddie Active Member

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    I would definitely advise to be ballsy and just write two lines outlining who you are and what you are applying to as I do think they appreciate it. Also, I sometimes think a lengthy cover letter leaves more room for mistakes to be made and for the recruiter to get bored as the majority of what you are saying in prose is most likely going to be repeated in your CV in points, so where you can be to the point I would just go for it.

    I applied for the 2020 training contract and this is the advise I was given by someone who had also interviewed for a TC at the firm regarding the cover letter:
    • Firstly, I would recommend doing a different font other than Calibri, I know it’s only a small thing, but just with Slaughters being a bit traditionalist I would recommend a slightly more traditional font such as Times New Roman for your cover letter and CV.
    • Secondly, with your cover letter, I would justify the main body of text to neaten it up slightly.
    • Thirdly, I would move the Slaughter and May address into the right hand corner and put it line by line, as you would if you were posting it, and just move your own address slightly further down the page.
    Regarding the CV, I was given the following advice:
    • Take out contact details and referees as this is either already included in the online form or not needed so simply a waste of space, which could be filled with additional work exp. or extra-curricular stuff.
    • Make sure all text is justified.
    • Include year averages as well as a breakdown of all modules taken/currently taking
    • Bullet point your interests/achievements
    Also make sure both your CV AND covering letter are in the same font (!)

    This is just the advice I was given, so by no means do you have to follow it. It did however, help to get five of us from the same course at the same uni a training contract interview, which none of us got - but that's another story!
     
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  17. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    That is so so helpful! Thank you for sharing. Did they also advice just a brief (one-two line) cover letter? I have some pretty necessary mitigating circumstances and when asking about how to convey them, they said in the covering letter (and that is when they said also say why Slaughters etc). What would you advise in this instance, where I do need to explain these circumstances in some way in my application?
     
  18. Maddie

    Maddie Active Member

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    Sorry I should have said - they actually advised that you only need to use the cover letter to explain any extenuating/mitigating circumstances that are not covered in your CV. So I would strongly recommend to do the following:

    Dear X,

    Please find attached my Curriculum Vitae for the Slaughter and May date Open Day.

    *Explain mitigating circumstances in one or two lines max, and keep it as concise as possible*

    I look forward to the opportunity to discuss with you my application and suitability for the Open Day.

    Yours sincerely,


    Y
     
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  19. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    Ah that make things so much simpler, and it makes sense - from their perspective, the CV should really say volumes about your goals and why you are interested in Slaughters. Thank you Maddie. :)
     
  20. Christy

    Christy Distinguished Member
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    I hope you don't mind taking the opportunity whilst I'm here - but I am aware Macfarlanes and some other firms (as mentioned above, White & Case etc) also use a covering letter. Is the approach different for these? Again, I am applying to first year schemes!
     
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