Get into the weeds in cover letters and resumes

LegalJob has recently been asked the following. Q: How can I improve my cover letter and resume such that I stand out?

LegalJob has recently been asked the following:


Q:  How can I improve my cover letter and resume such that I stand out?


Answer:  The answer in most cases seems to be that folks are unnecessarily vague in these documents.  There are words on the page but they do not say anything.  If you have impressive work experience, provide enough details (but in a fairly concise manner) about the substance so that the interviewer understands what he or she is reading before ever talking with you.  Big words are not impressive but details are.  Your explanation should accomplish two objectives: 

  1. Provide enough detail about the substance so it is clear what your specific role was (writing, speaking, reporting, analyzing, providing advice to partner/client, some combination, etc.) and what the specific subject matter was (not tax but sham partnerships and disguised sales.)
  2. Emphasize (by inference) which specific skill set of yours contributed to the project —  knowledge of this area and that area (broad based and deep), quickly required to… (so quick study and cool under pressure), working on this assignment and at the same time that assignment (translation — ability to handle lots of responsibility).

If your work experience is not impressive, do not fake it with lots of words on the page.  Interviewers see right through that.  Every word or sentence should be meaningful and have some purpose.  If not, consider deleting.