The Worst Cover Letter Ever - How to avoid being THAT Guy Print E-mail

If you happened to miss it, there is a cover letter circulating the Internet about what has been coined by some as the “worst cover letter in the world.” The cover letter written by an NYU junior has quickly gone viral, initially within big name Wall Street banks and now spreading across mainstream media.


Here is the original cover letter:
1/23/2012


J.P. Morgan

Dear Sir or Madame:

I am an ambitious undergraduate at NYU triple majoring in Mathematics, Economics, and Computer Science. I am a punctual, personable, and shrewd individual, yet I have a quality which I pride myself on more than any of these.

I am unequivocally the most unflaggingly hard worker I know, and I love self-improvement. I have always felt that my time should be spent wisely, so I continuously challenge myself; I left Villanova because the work was too easy. Once I realized I could achieve a perfect GPA while holding a part-time job at NYU, I decided to redouble my effort by placing out of two classes, taking two honors classes, and holding two part-time jobs. That semester I achieved a 3.93, and in the same time I managed to bench double my bodyweight and do 35 pull-ups.

I say these things only because solid evidence is more convincing than unverifiable statements, and I want to demonstrate that I am a hard worker. J.P. Morgan is a firm with a reputation that precedes itself and employees who represent only the best and rightest in finance. I know that the employees in this firm will push me to excellence, especially within the Investment Banking division. In fact, one of the supporting reasons I chose Investment Banking over any other division was that I know it is difficult. I hope to augment my character by diligently working for the professionals at Morgan Stanley, and I feel I have much to offer in return.

I am proficient in several programming languages, and I can pick up a new one very quickly. For instance, I learned a years worth of Java from NYU in 27 days on my own; this is how I placed out of two including: Money and Banking, Analysis, Game Theory, Probability and Statistics. Even further, I am taking Machine Learning and Probabilistic Graphical Modeling currently, two programming courses offered by Stanford, so that I may truly offer the most if I am accepted. I am proficient with Bloomberg terminals, excellent with excel, and can perform basic office functions with terrifying efficiency. I have plenty of experience in the professional world through my internship at Merrill Lynch, and my research assistant position at NYU. In fact, my most recent employer has found me so useful that he promoted me to a Research Assistant and an official CTED intern. This role is usually reserved for Masters students, but my employer gave the title to me so that he could give me more work.

Please realize that I am not a braggart or conceited, I just want to outline my usefulness. Egos can be a huge liability, and I try not to have one.

Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Mark

 

So where do you think Matt went wrong?

1. Matt underestimated the importance and power of an effective cover letter. If he had taken his cover letter more seriously, maybe he could have prevented the disaster he is dealing with right now.

This is a crucial time for college students looking for highly competitive summer analyst positions with leading banks in New York City’s financial district. As a triple major in Mathematics, Economics and Computer Science, Matt appears to have the credentials as a promising candidate. Unfortunately a cover letter can make or break your chances.

2. A cover letter should be centralized around the company instead of around you. Matt’s entire cover letter solely broadcasted his abilities and he also managed to do it in a manner that lacked humility and composure.

Matt’s crass approach earned him the title of Wall Street laughing stock among companies like Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Citi just to name a few.

3. Proof and double check your cover letters before you attach them to your resume. Regardless of how impeccable your resume may be, a careless mistake in your cover letter can be the factor that keeps you on the unemployment line.

Among the syntax errors in Matt’s cover letter, he also addresses Morgan Stanley at one point, indicating that either he isn’t paying attention to what should be an important task or he is circulating a generic cover letter and missed that correction before sending it.

Now we can’t be too hard on Matt, everyone has succumbed to these mistakes at least once. Writing a cover letter and developing a resume that highlights your skills and background is not only difficult, but it can be nerve-racking.

If you want to tackle the job search with a cover letter you have written on your own, follow these tips.

Cover Letter Do’s & Don’ts

Do attach a cover letter to each resume you submit. A survey found that 76% of employers may automatically eliminate in employment candidate for any further hiring consideration based solely on the quality of his or her cover letter.

Don’t send a general cover letter to every company. Customize each one to that particular company’s mission and industry.

Do address the cover letter to a specific contact at the company when possible. This information may not be supplied in the advertised job opening; it is up to you to do some research.

Don’t use this cover letter as a means of self promotion. Show the hiring manager why you would be an asset to his/her team.

Do mention relevant news about the company to display your knowledge and fervor for this position.

Don’t misconstrue the word “letter” in “cover letter” as an invitation to write a lengthy essay. KISS: Keep It Simple Silly.

Do end your cover letter with a compelling closing.

Don’t write a cover letter like Matt.

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