Updated: Nov. 30, 2023

Effective Cover Letters & Résumés

Cover letter and résumé writing is a straightforward domain to master. The trick is to get in the habit of quickly editing both of these based on the job you are looking for. The preferred length of a résumé is one page and it should be easily readable in an 11- or 12-point font. Likewise, your cover letter should be brief and to the point. Jeff Minzel gave an excellent presentation here at WSBA on this topic; contact danc@wsba.org for an article on cover letters and résumés written by Minzel, which includes helpful samples. He recommends writing a "super-résumé" that is several pages long. You then choose the experiences that best fit the job you are applying to. A summary of the points made in this chapter can be accessed by clicking on Cover Letters and Resumes.

Jeff Minzel offers a method for what should be included in paragraphs One, Two, and Three of your cover letter.

  • Paragraph One indicates how you heard about the job and demonstrates enthusiasm and knowledge about the position.
  • Paragraph Two explains why you are qualified for the position. Be sure to match your previous experiences to the position you are applying for. Use objective criteria about previous experiences/accomplishments, as opposed to subjective criteria about what a great person and talented employee you think you are. This way, you are proving your points based upon real experience.
  • Paragraph Three summarizes these points, reasserts your enthusiasm, and offers ways that they can contact you.

This is, of course, not the only way to write a cover letter, but it can provide a useful structure for you to express yourself.