April 8, 2008

Best Selling Legal Career Guide Updated and Expanded

Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, 2nd Edition, by Kimm Walton, 2008.

* The long-awaited second edition of this bestseller has finally arrived! This essential and very readable handbook is now significantly expanded to over 1,300 pages. Kimm Walton's informal and infectious style, wit, and humor remain, however. She covers every aspect of the job search, from exploring practice areas to conquering the large firm without stellar grades.

Note that we have copies of this comprehensive text in the CPDC.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Secret to Being Happily Employed for the Rest of your life
Chapter 2: Figuring Out What the Heck the Job of Your Dream Is
Chapter 3: Getting the Most Out of Your Career Services Office
Chapter 4: The Most Important Element of Your Image

Continue reading "Best Selling Legal Career Guide Updated and Expanded" »

March 14, 2007

What should an email application look like?

Question from email: What if an employer doesn't ask for an e-mail cover letter, or I am writing a "cold" letter. Should I attach a cover letter? Or should my email message be a short, transmittal note? Or does the cover letter belong in the e-mail itself?

Answer: Because your documents will be printed out and handed around, you want to send something that you know will look perfect. The attachments should be in pdf and Word, as a backup. Attachments could be a resume, complete cover letter, transcript, writing sample, and/or a complete grade explanation. While pdf is a wonderful thing, every employer may not have your version of pdf, so sending a Word.doc may be a sensible backup. Everyone has Word. If you have a MAC, make sure that you can convert and send as long as you are applying to traditional legal employers. Ad agencies may use MACs, but law firms tend not to.

The email message itself should have enough identifying information so that the recipient can identify and contact your on the off chance that the attachments are missing or unreadable.

For example: I am a third year law student from the University of Minnesota Law Schooll interested in your litigation practice. I am on a law journal, and I have real courtroom experience through my [clinic, Student Practice Rule work, etc.]

And this is KEY: Every candidate must have an informative, professional signature block with name, address and phone number. This is not the place for jokes, famous phrases, blog links or any other extraneous material -- just the facts that will allow a prospective employer to contact you.

January 31, 2007

Emailing a cover letter? Attachment or in the body of the email?

QUESTION If someone says to email a cover letter (along with resume, writing sample, etc.), should I send the cover letter as the body of the email, or attach it separately? It seems more natural to make the email body the cover letter, since that's the whole point of a cover letter in the first place. What do you think?

You should write a real cover letter and attach it to the email. Why? If the purpose is to get hired by the OFFICE, your letter may be passed around. Photocopied email used in that context looks unprofessional -- as if you didn't bother to "write a letter."

But how, then, should you use the email?

Your email should give enough information about you and about the goal of your communication so that you could be contacted – even without the attachments. One rule; one example:

1. ALWAYS use an informative signature block when you apply for a job and when you are using email as a networking tool. My U of MN signature block is informative (name, employer, address, phone, fax, website, blog, Symplicity sites). My personal email has only my personal blog link – no phone, no address -- it's going to people who already know me.

2. Your email functions as a “letter of transmittal.? For example:

Dear Mr. Smith:

I am a first year law student at the University of Minnesota Law School applying for a summer clerkship with your firm. I have attached the resume, cover letter and transcript that you requested to this email. If you have questions or need more information, you may reach me through the phone number or email below.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Your name
Your address
Your phone/email

January 17, 2007

Making Documents Into PDFs

Many employers and job posting systems, including Symplicity, convert your word processed resumes and cover letters into PDF documents. The on-line application system for federal judicial clerkship applications, OSCAR, requires all applicants to submit documents in PDF format. There are also advantages to converting documents to the PDF format when attaching them to e-mail applications. But what can you do if you don't have a copy of the Adobe Acrobat program at your disposal?

The answer is to search the web for one of a number of free services and downloads that enable you to convert your Word or Wordperfect documents to the PDF format. One such service recommended by an alum of ours can be found at the following website:

This service allows you to download free software that you can use from your desktop. As our alum stated, "This pdf converter application is very simple to operate. I managed to download it, use it, and upload a doc onto the Oscar page. The good news is that if I can figure it out, anyone can." There are other services available on the internet and you should explore them as well.

December 11, 2006

Review your email signature block

From the Office of Professional Communications:

Please create a useful and informative signature block to use for email that goes to everyone who is not a Close Personal Friend.

Include COMPLETE contact information (name, address, phone). Please do not include philosophical musings or clever sayings which might detract from your professional image.

Without a signature block, you are a ghost in the machine to an employer who may need to write a letter or to call you. Also, please use a professional e-mail address – is not professional.

April 4, 2006

How to torpedo your promising RA application

A person who is collecting resumes for an RA position wrote to the CPDC saying "I thought you should know what I'm receiving...":

--No subject line on the e-mail transmitting the application materials. How do I know this e-mail isn't spam?

--Automatic e-mails through Symplicity that don't attach any of the required application materials beyond the resume, and then I've gotten no response to my follow-up e-mail requesting those materials.

--Poor grammar and punctuation in the e-mail transmitting the application materials.

The email continues...It may be "just" an RA position, but students should still use proper application etiquette. Am I wrong? Am I being overly picky? I thought this feedback might be helpful to pass along to the students..."


There is no such thing as "Just" an RA position. Our faculty members have a continuing obligation to publish, which creates an ongoing opportunity for students to engage with them on cutting edge research and to create the bonds of life-long mentorships and references. Would you really want to short-circuit these chances on a careless email? I think not.

March 23, 2006

Before you hit "send..."

Re-read your cover letter before you hit "send." An employer just called to check on the accuracy of a job posting because a student's cover letter had ended with "I am very interested in your Minneapolis office." The firm exists in two time zones -- neither of which is Central -- and the candidacy is at zero because of this editing lapse.

March 22, 2006

Take a Breath Before Sending Your E-Documents

Before sending your application materials electronically to a potential employer, consider the following in order to make a great first impression:

* Is your e-mail and cover letter addressed to the correct person or correct department? Remember it is always best to address your documents to a person instead of using 'To Whom It May Concern'. This rule applies to 'hard copy' application materials as well.

Continue reading "Take a Breath Before Sending Your E-Documents" »

March 13, 2006

Applying by email (2): Request read/delivery receipt

Because you can never know when you might be spamblocked, when you email a job application directly to an employer (not through Symplicity), go to your email's OPTIONS setting and request a Read and Delivery receipt.

March 7, 2006

Applying by email (1): What does the message look like?

QUESTION: I’m applying electronically for some fellowships and internships. I’m attaching all the documents electronically, but I was wondering precisely what to write in the body of the email. Should it be a word-for-word repeat of the cover letter? Or a briefer version of a cover letter? Or simply a note saying “Please find my materials, attached.??

ANSWER: Include enough information so that the reader knows who you are, for which position you are applying, and which documents you have attached. Also, include a phone number so that you can be reached in case the electronic submission has failed.

SUBJECT LINE: [the name of the job for which you are applying]

EMAIL BODY: I am a [first] year student at the U of Minnesota applying for the [name of job]. As instructed, I have attached [name the documents]. If the transmission was unsuccessful or if you need additional information, please contact me at [phone number.]