The cover letter is a vital portion of the application package and a student’s first opportunity to make an impression on the Student Committee. Cover letters should be a maximum of one page and addressed correctly to the proper individual. Most cover letters follow the same general format:
- An introductory sentence indicating your school, year of study and the position for which you are applying;
- An outline of why you are interested in Willis Business Law; and
- An outline of the qualities and accomplishments which make you suited for the position.
You may also want to address any gaps in your academic or employment history, or explain any grade irregularities. It is not generally necessary to discuss a single low grade. However, if you had a bad term due to extenuating circumstances, then you may want to provide a brief clarification of those circumstances. For more on this, see the Transcripts section below.
Your résumé tells the Student Committee about who you are and the experience you will bring to the position.
Student résumés should normally be a maximum of two pages. If space is an issue, avoid the mistake of including everything you have ever done or listing every duty a job entailed. Determine which experiences are the most applicable to the position and include only those. Be careful not to overstate your experiences or accomplishments, as anything within your résumé may be raised during an interview.
Take the time to ensure that your résumé is flawless, the font is no smaller than 10 point, and there are clean lines and plenty of “white space”.
Similar to the cover letter, résumés for summer and articling positions follow a standard format; however, there are times when the standard format may be altered. For instance, mature students may wish to highlight their work experience first.
The standard format for summer and articling position résumés is:
- list beginning with most recent
- list all post-secondary education, including years attended and any major or area of concentration
- Note: secondary information is not generally necessary
- Employment Experience:
- list beginning with most recent
- include basic description of most relevant/important duties only
- Legal Experience:
- if applicable, include any positions which provided exposure to the legal field
- Note: legal experience can be listed as a separate category or may simply be included under Employment Experience or Extracurricular Activities
- Academic Awards:
- include if applicable
- Extracurricular Activities:
- list any groups or organizations to which you belong or any volunteer work experience
- list what you enjoy doing outside of school-we want to know who you are outside of work and school
More on Interests
Highlight who you are and what you like to do. Make sure that you don’t include any information that you are not open to discussing in an interview.
Your “interests” section is what the Student Committee will use to establish a connection with you. Avoid generic interests such as ‘travel, reading and exercise’ as this is what most students use. This is a great opportunity to make your résumé and yourself stand out.
While references are mandatory at some firms, at Willis Business Law reference letters are optional. If a student has written references, they should be included at the end of the application package.
Students who wish to include a list of references should list them at the end of their résumé, after their interests. Be sure to include the full name, title, organization and contact information of the reference. Two or three references are generally sufficient. It is standard to include both a personal reference as well as a professional reference.
Reference letters should be from individuals who can highlight your capabilities and the personal characteristics they have observed which make you an outstanding candidate. A generic reference letter from a professor or former employer that simply lists your attendance, length of employment, etc. will not add value to your application.
There is no need to say “References Available on Request” at the bottom of your résumé. It’s best to either include references or not refer to them at all.
Be sure to include all post-secondary transcripts in chronological order. If there is a gap in your educational experience that is not obviously explained by your work experience or extracurricular activities, you may wish to explain this gap in your cover letter or in an addendum to the transcript. Students may wish to address any major grade inconsistencies in either their cover letter or, given the space constraints of the cover letter, in a note attached to the transcript.