Telepathy is not a job search tool. When drafting resumes and cover letters, you must share information about yourself that will be useful to a prospective employer.
How do you know what an employer wants to know?
Know about the employer Don’t put the cart before the horse: What do you know about the employer and the work that it does?
If you do not know what the employer does, do some research. You may not learn what the managing partner had for breakfast last Friday, but you should be able to learn some basic information about the employer and its activities. Search tools: martindale.com, LinkedIn, Google searches, alumni data bases if appropriate. Ask your career services professionals what they know about the employer.
If you have done the work, describe it clearly. Use all of the important buzzwords and markers of accomplishment. If you have not done the work, you must use the language of transferrable skills to show that you have done something similar which shows that you have the capacity to learn.
Caveat writer: Do not write that you are eager to advance your skills set and to grow as a law clerk or lawyer. That you may learn something while working is a collateral benefit to you and of no consequence to an employer who is trying to hire a competent lawyer or clerk to get work done today.
What does the employer know about your school? A second critical and often overlooked question for applicants: is the employer familiar with my school and its programs?
Unless the employer is an adjunct professor or very recent graduate, the answer is usually “no.”
Law schools and their programs change all the time. Unless an employer is a graduate of your law school who pays particular attention to all of the printed and electronic material that the Dean sends regularly to update grads about curriculum, faculty, and new teaching methodology, your prospective employer has no clue about your law school experience.
Someone who graduated more than 10 years ago will have no idea that you represented live clients in your clinic and went to court on their behalf. Experienced lawyers may not know how your other classes may now connect to real world problems, and without specific information, they may dismiss your study abroad program as three months of overseas drinking.