1/4/12

The government department I am working for right now is looking for an intern and they asked to interview and assess applications, which i was happy to do. Seeing as I had never done such a job before, I decided to dig out some of my old letters and search online for the great cover letters and resumes.

I came across this:
http://blogs.hbr.org/silverman/2009/06/the-best-co...

Now its on the HBR so it may cause some to lose sight of reality but is that really a great example of a cover letter? I'm biased so I can't look at my letters with an objective eye but I don't want to screw this up either so would love to hear some thoughts.

1) What do you make of that letter?
2) Whats the best one you've ever seen?

Comments (37)

1/4/12

far too generic/bland/short for my taste.

Financial Modeling

1/4/12

here was my cover letter to goldman sachs

Dear Hiring Manager:

Please interview me. Why?

I can stay up and burn the midnight oil. Can go pickup food orders with out screwing it up. Realistic about what tasks i'll be doing. I know the MD is always right. I can sit in front of computer screen for 18 hours a day. I aspire to master excel. I know about the financial crisis.

I know the only detriment to supply and demand is emotion. I can respond to emails at 4:00 AM while sleeping! I can pull the the all-nighters. I can work 90 plus hours a week. I desire to learn from the best in finance. I know not to wear white collars. I know not to wear cuffs. I do not aspire to be Gordon Gekko. I am to smart to believe Shia Labeouf turned $20,000 into $300,000. I aspire to be that non target kid. My favorite movie is not Wall Street. I think bankers do God's work. I already have a Black Berry. I can kiss ass. I can take take teasing. I can explain credit default swaps. I can explain synthetic default swaps. I can explain options.

Finally,
I can write a cover letter in exactly 300 words.

//www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/a-new-member-of-the...

i didn't get a call back :(

1/5/12
blastoise:

I am to smart to believe

Damn.. so close.

1/4/12

I think that is a fine cover letter if you are mid-career and know EXACTLY what you'll be working on/who you'll be working for.

Forget it for entry level.

Best Response
1/5/12

The Best Cover Letter Ever? (Originally Posted: 01/16/2013)

So I stumbled across this article on my lunch break yesterday, and to be honest, I was pretty shocked. Initially, you would think that something like this wouldn't fly on Wall Street, and something in the back of my head tells me that this kind of thing has to have happened before, but according to the article, this student is getting a ton of attention from many different banks.

Basically, a student from a "non-target" school in the area applies for a summer internship with a bank on Wall Street and instead of doing the standard "here's-why-I'm-amazing-so-hire-me" cover letter, he's blunt, unapologetic and honest about how he's not a traditional candidate but still is determined and driven to succeed on Wall Street. He states he's willing do do any type of errand (running to the dry cleaners and fetching coffee) for next to nothing; for him, the internship is about learning as much as he can about IB by being around professionals in the industry.

To me, the paragraph below (the third paragraph in the CL) sums up the tone of the entire letter:

I won't waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles or feeding you a line of crapp (sic) about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you. I've interned for Merrill Lynch in the Wealth Management Division and taken an investment banking class at ''xxxx'' for whatever that is worth

Seriously, how amazing is this? Apart from the letter itself and some inside communication from a firm expressing their interest, the article doesn't reveal much more. Does anyone else know any more about this candidate? Where is he applying?

The original article

1/5/12

Love this, I wish for his success.

1/5/12

I think he made valid points.
But the fact that it got so much publicity and circled the street annoyed me becuase I wrote plenty of those types of emails to dozens of people and never got a response. I'm sure other kids also did similar things that went unnoticed. Kid got lukcy.

1/5/12

I got the letter. I won't reveal any of his personal information though. However, I love it. We all know cover letters are bullshit and anyone can find something to spin into a positive. This kid actually knows what he will be doing and sounds like he is willing to do whatever...

"I am extremely interested in investment banking and would love nothing more than to learn under your tutelage. I have no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and will work for next to nothing. In all honesty, I just want to be around professionals in the industry and gain as much knowledge as I can."

1/5/12

Although I have his name, I won't divulge... He goes to SDSU and was applying to Duff and Phelps.

Honestly I think the funniest part was: "I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like SDSU to intern at Duff and Phelps, but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception." from the second paragraph. HAHAHA Does Duff and Phelps have anything but people from average universities?? Clue me in, because I'm pretty sure they suck.

1/5/12

Cool, but not really that impressive. I'm sure there have been tons of kids who have done this themselves in the past.

I basically did the same thing for my first internship, but I left out the shoe-shining part.

Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis - when I was dead broke man I couldn't picture this

1/5/12

In my opinion, thought it was stupid. It's just out of the norm so it got people talking about the email. He portrays himself with a lack of confidence who wants to be someone's bitch. That is great he has humility I guess..

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

1/5/12

It is definitely a very risky move for target students, but the upside potential for this particular candidate is huge, and the risk is less (relatively speaking).

Overall, a great and smart cover letter in his situation.

1/5/12

Basically, he just degraded himself to only having shoe-shining skills. Who the fuck would hire a desperate kid like that?

1/5/12

Risky move. I'd love to hire someone likeable, who can bullshit with me and flirting girls at a bar after we close a deal. I don't need dog who I know I won't have a great conversation with. There are so many dogs in the world. He is just one of them. Sorry this is my honest thought, if that offenses anyone...

1/5/12

I think its funny that all the people who hate on this kid are interns or prospects for the most part. I feel like they are just mad that they went through so much effort to have their cover letters and resumes grilled and filled with bullshit that they resent that this kid gets attention by admitting outright that he doesn't have any real experience and doesn't want to try and bull shit employers like other applicants had to.

FWIW: I could care less if this kid sinks or swims

1/5/12

If you have the luxury of being picky and snobbish, great, but if not, this is how you get your foot in the door. Syndey Weinberg went to work with scars from knife fights in the alleys, and ended up beating out the best and brightest to run GS. Facts are, as a boss, you just want a silent slave.

All that "fit" stuff is to make sure you play nicely with the other kids in the bullpen.

Get busy living

1/5/12

i'd hire someone that's personable not a processor.

1/5/12

Do firms actually like this? I never say anything wrong about myself in a cover letter, only focus on the positives. I try to be confident, but now I'm wondering if I'm coming across as cocky. Deep down I don't think I'm anything special, just didn't think the cover letter was a place to show humility. I would never tout my credentials once I was hired though.

1/5/12

Hilarious. Hope he gets the job

1/5/12

Best cover letter I've ever read in my life.

Overall, the only reason it went "viral" though is it landed in the right inbox. If it landed into the inbox of a complete D-bag then it would just be deleted or made fun of behind close doors. Or worse sent out as a joke like one kid who explained that he "invented" supply and demand concepts or something to the effect.

If a cover letter like this hit my desk with decent credentials would interview. Only downside is he would be grilled relentelessly on technicals to make sure he did his homework and didnt just blast out a ridiculous coverletter only to show he really doesnt know anything.

In terms of the "skillset". IBD analyst gigs can be done by a relatively bright 18 year old kid to be honest. i mean at the end of the day you can be doing the job on less than 4 hours of sleep so that tells you the "mental" difficulty of spreading comps and updating "PV" graphs.

1/5/12

WallStreetPlayboys:
Best cover letter I've ever read in my life.

Overall, the only reason it went "viral" though is it landed in the right inbox. If it landed into the inbox of a complete D-bag then it would just be deleted or made fun of behind close doors. Or worse sent out as a joke like one kid who explained that he "invented" supply and demand concepts or something to the effect.

If a cover letter like this hit my desk with decent credentials would interview. Only downside is he would be grilled relentelessly on technicals to make sure he did his homework and didnt just blast out a ridiculous coverletter only to show he really doesnt know anything.

In terms of the "skillset". IBD analyst gigs can be done by a relatively bright 18 year old kid to be honest. i mean at the end of the day you can be doing the job on less than 4 hours of sleep so that tells you the "mental" difficulty of spreading comps and updating "PV" graphs.

Seriously, it is really disappointing to see so many people say this cover letter is spectacular. It's crap, and anyone being honest knows it.

Yes, more prospective monkeys will complain about this for justified reason. Why should some kid who wrote a terrible cover letter, which basically admits he isn't qualified, get the job that other highly skilled and intelligent individuals could do very well. I'm not saying pick the arrogant prick, but there are more than enough people applying who have a mix of good personality and brains plus hard work ethic.

It's simple to write this type of cover letter. As others have said, it's not like he is the first one. The one thing I agreed with in your post was the part about luck. That is exactly correct. Many other people, rightfully so, would have thrown this out. Isn't it pretty typical to be so serious when looking over applications that you throw out the ones with grammar errors because that shows a flaw (applicant couldn't take the time to look over their submission). Well, as someone else (sorry forgot poster's name) pointed out on one of the many other threads on WSO about the exact same thing, he spelled crap wrong....

Having balls is one thing. But just being stupid is another. Someone who really wants the job and will work hard at it pushes their strengths in a non-arrogant way because he/she cares enough about the job to put his/her best foot forward. Lame cover letter = not your best foot forward = you don't have the determination that other applicants have to try and get a job that they know they are fighting for.

-- And don't be the stupid poster who adds a one liner after quoting my post; something like "clearly this guy didn't get the internship he wanted." You'll just be wrong and make an embarrassment of yourself.

1/5/12

frozencheese:
WallStreetPlayboys:
Best cover letter I've ever read in my life.

Overall, the only reason it went "viral" though is it landed in the right inbox. If it landed into the inbox of a complete D-bag then it would just be deleted or made fun of behind close doors. Or worse sent out as a joke like one kid who explained that he "invented" supply and demand concepts or something to the effect.

If a cover letter like this hit my desk with decent credentials would interview. Only downside is he would be grilled relentelessly on technicals to make sure he did his homework and didnt just blast out a ridiculous coverletter only to show he really doesnt know anything.

In terms of the "skillset". IBD analyst gigs can be done by a relatively bright 18 year old kid to be honest. i mean at the end of the day you can be doing the job on less than 4 hours of sleep so that tells you the "mental" difficulty of spreading comps and updating "PV" graphs.

-- And don't be the stupid poster who adds a one liner after quoting my post; something like "clearly this guy didn't get the internship he wanted." You'll just be wrong and make an embarrassment of yourself.

Was with you up until this point...but now I just think you're a douche.

"For I am a sinner in the hands of an angry God. Bloody Mary full of vodka, blessed are you among cocktails. Pray for me now and at the hour of my death, which I hope is soon. Amen."

1/5/12

WallStreetPlayboys, thanks for explaining a bit more of what you were thinking. I would personally still stick with what I said, but now I see some of the points you were making better.

1/5/12

Yeah I noticed the spelling error as well.

Here's the rub and why I like the letter. He clearly made a connection with the person he sent the letter to.

Make sense?

Basically giving him the benefit of the doubt that he realized the higher up he was talking to was that "type of guy". Ergo I'm that type of guy by default, my bad.

So while "lucky" it was actually relatively bright since he realized who he was dealing with. This is why I left the technical part up there.

End of the day, we have spell check and the internet to look up formulas so i'd rather work with someone who is hilarious, doesnt bitch and can get the job done in a timely matter.

The boring ass mother f****r in the corner with his CS degree from IVY minoring in uptightness is about as interesting to talk to as a woman post coitous.

Do feel your pain though, there are more qualified candidates. That's not how the world works though and never will be a complete 100% meritocracy.

1/5/12

He mentions he has a near perfect gpa...which turns out to be 3.3. Hilarious.

1/5/12

pjtae:
He mentions he has a near perfect gpa...which turns out to be 3.3. Hilarious.

I am not going to rip on the 3.3 by itself, since I think there are a large number of low 3.0 gpa individuals who have other qualities that make them deserving of a position, but I would expect the company to consider the fact that he is practically lying (I have never heard anyone else who considered anything below 3.9 as being "near perfect gpa").

1/5/12

pjtae:
He mentions he has a near perfect gpa...which turns out to be 3.3. Hilarious.

Haha, that's great.

After learning which firm it is, I can't help but think that part of the reason for the effectiveness of this letter is because the applicant is putting Duff & Phelps on a pedestal and is groveling for a position there. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt that happens everyday.

1/5/12

Double

1/5/12

I lost respect for the guy after I heard he said he has a near perfect GPA. That is just a lie if it is a 3.3
Anything 3.9+ is considered near perfect GPA.

Financial Modeling

1/5/12

18th thread on this at least

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

1/5/12

yeahright:
18th thread on this at least
and somehow, you've managed to comment in them all.....

"After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

1/5/12

Oreos:
yeahright:
18th thread on this at least
and somehow, you've managed to comment in them all.....

haha, work is slow! I only commented on two!

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

1/5/12

Good stuff

"Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."- Benjamin Franklin

1/5/12

I don't like it. Am I missing something?

Because when you're in a room full of smart people, smart suddenly doesn't matter--interesting is what matters.

1/5/12
1/5/12
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