Cover Letter Madness: How to Make Wall Street Laugh.

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Thumbnail image for 5616723216_f5c0f2d25e_z.jpgHere is an opportunity to get some Professional Blogging comment credit.  Read on:


According to an article published by Business Insider, a super-ambitious summer analyst applicant has some of the biggest names on Wall Street in stitches.  And not in a good way.

In his cover letter to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, he wrote (in part):

"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 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."

A Challenge

The hiring director sent the cover letter to Morgan Stanley, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and more.  He offered to buy drinks for "the first analyst to concisely summarize everything that is wrong with" the note.

I'm willing to offer PRB comment credit for the same.  Click here to see the entire cover letter.  On your mark, get set, GO!

Thanks to Sidra Maryam who brought the article to my attention.

Image Source: Flickr. by Ahd Photography



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The first lesson we take away from this article is of course how to 'not' write a cover letter. We read chapters, searched the internet, and searched the library to make sure we avoid these fatal mistakes. What scares me the most is that how easily this information can become public. When I write a cover letter or a resume, I think about the employer who is receiving it or may be other people from the same company. For the past four years that I have been going to the career fairs and submitting my resumes to recruiters, it did not strike my mind even once that it could be shared with (or leaked to) another company. I wonder if there are any policies in place regarding companies or individuals sharing your job application documents.

To be honest, I sort of liked it. I look forward to reading a few other responses to see if I’m the only one.

I think that the points the article made are valid – HR departments read thousands of cover letters, so standing out might be more useful than being traditional and safe. I liked the vocabulary used, the sentences were of good length and read well, and it conveyed a good amount of information about the individual. I agree that possibly some humility could be incorporated, but that would take away from the ‘shock factor’. I think that if the resume backs the claims made (the article says it does) then this person should get an interview. If they continue this arrogant demeanor into ‘real life’ and the interview, then there would be a problem. In such a saturated and competitive field such as business and investment banking, a high risk cover letter like this might be what it takes to stand out from the crowd. I’ll be sticking to my traditional cover letter for engineering though.

As soon as I started reading the cover letter, I realized it would probably be easier to summarize what was RIGHT about it! First and foremost, you can not address the letter to the wrong company. The student wrote the letter to Merrill Lynch but addressed it to J.P. Morgan; it is true that one is expected to praise the company one is applying to; however, this surely has a reverse effect if one writes about a competing company.
There are also many style and content problems as compared to a major outline of how cover letters should be made by the Virginia Tech University division of student affairs ( These problems include but are not limited to: not mentioning the position he’s applying to or how he heard about it, using large paragraphs, failing to delve into important matter in the first lines and failing to provide contact he’s information.
With respect to content, even though the student appears to have a solid background, he fails explain how relevant past experiences make him an asset to the company. On the other hand, the student rambles about how much weight he is able to lift, which in the recruiter eyes, represents reading time he would rather not waste. Moreover, he does not urge the reader to further inquire with his resume or CV, and he does not attach these documents.
In addition to everything mentioned above, what strikes me the most is the final line “Egos can be a huge liability, and I try not to have one.” I actually laughed upon reading this; mainly because it is quite random and out of place, but secondly because considering the previous paragraphs, the statement sounds completely false, and lying is most definitely not the way you wish to end a cover letter.

Although children from around the world are educated at a very early age to be humble and modest, they are also encouraged by the time they enter school to have a good amount of self-esteem, and value their strengths. Cover Letters and Résumés are documents with the sole purpose to present the applicant as the ideal candidate for the position he is applying. Cover letters are not meant to show weaknesses and/or self-doubt.
For that reason, I agree with my fellow commentator Christopher. The individual is willing to provide evidence for his claims. His merits are attributable to Hermes, but he misses a few critical points in his cover letters that reduces him to a mortal egomaniac. As my fellow colleague who commented way below, the person did not provided any sort of contact information. One important note is the fact that HE DID NOT REFERED TO HIS RESUME AND USE “SIR OR MADAME”. Personally, I kind of like because it gave an epic feel and a *challenge accepted* mood.

The one thing I like about this cover letter was his ability to stand out from the rest of the applicants, which in my opinion is very valuable. That being said, the manner in which he accomplished this was ill-advised.

He tries to come off as being very confident, but just sounds exactly what he states he isn't in his last paragraph: conceited (irony). The applicant adds all this unnecessary information and I think if he had reworded much of the qualifications he outlined, his cover letter would be in better shape. Also, he is missing some very important aspects of a good cover letter, such as referring to his resume, contact information where he could be reached, and writing to a specific person within J.P. Morgan.

Overall, his ability to get noticed came at the expense of a well thought-out cover letter. On a side note, I think it was unprofessional that J.P. Morgan sent this cover letter out to other firms just for a laugh. Hopefully this doesn't adversely affect the applicant when he's trying to apply for another job.

The main problem I see with this cover letter is that the skills he is highlighting are not directly related to the job he is applying for. Is entire first body paragraph is an attempt to show how hard of a worker he is, but he doesn't go into detail about things like what the jobs were, what the classes were, etc. He also doesn't do a great job of connecting that entire paragraph to why he is a good candidate for a position in investment banking, as such a position requires more than just working hard. Also, it may have been blacked out, but I did not see one specific banking-related qualification throughout the entire cover letter. He kept mentioning jobs he's had or classes he's taken, but he didn't go into specifics on what they were or why they were important. I also saw no connection to his resume (although I have not seen his resume), which is part of what a cover letter is supposed to do.

The concluding paragraph is just making a problem that showed up in the first body paragraph more apparent. He seems to be aware that that paragraph makes him sound arrogant, but rather than scaling it back a bit, it feels as though he apologizes for being arrogant in his conclusion, which doesn't leave the reader with a very good impression of him after finishing the cover letter. Not only that, but, as others have mentioned, he didn't even provide his contact information, which is one of the most important parts.

I'm not even sure where to begin about this. He uses words that he doesn't seem to have a full understanding of, an example is in the first sentence when he uses unequivocally and unflagginly two words apart from each other. The next big thing that I see wrong with this is that when he tries to showcase his work ethic, he doesn't talk about relevant jobs or classes. Instead he talks about how much he can bench which makes him sound like a meat head. In the second paragraph it also looks like he mixes up the companies (unless J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are the same company, but I don't think so). I think another big turn off to the employer is that in his openning paragraph he says that he left "somewhere" because it was too easy and what is to ensure them that this work won't be "too easy" as well. It seems a little unnecessary for him to apologize for coming off as "arrogant or conceited" because the cover letter is supposed to highlight what sets you apart anyway. On top of all this, he doesn't include his contact information or direct the reader to his resume at all.

This cover letter is a perfect example of what not to do. This individual comes off as being arrogant, self-centered, and egotistical. The writer is clearly boasting his qualifications and does not support his claims. For instance this person claims that he learned "years worth of Java" from NYU in just 27 days. This statement is questionable and not helping the writer's situation with regards to getting a job.
The overall body is structured poorly. The cover letter should consist only four paragraphs while the writer's contains five paragraphs. The fourth paragraph is the largest block of the five and contains some important skills that should have been mentioned earlier on in the cover letter. The overall appearance of the cover letter is not pleasing and could use a lot of work on being much more formal. Below is a link that teaches someone how to write a good cover letter.

I think this cover letter is a good example of how a few steps past confident can drop you into the deep end of cocky and laughable. I like that this applicant was very strong in his approach. Confidence is an important characteristic for someone applying for a job, but as we have seen from the response to the letter by the Wall Street community confidence is not all it takes to get a job. There are a few problems with the cover letter. The tone and language he uses to describe himself is by no measure close to humbling. It looks like after he wrote the rough draft of his cover letter he went back to every word with a thesaurus and picked the longest or most "educated" sounding word he could find. Near the end he writes that he is not a "braggart" or "conceited." This statement is a complete contradiction to way he has just presented himself in the last four paragraphs. As the comments above mine have said, his cover letter does not provide any contact information, refer to his resume or follow the traditional style for writing a cover letter. Also, he provides information that is most likely not very relevant to the job he is applying for. He is applying to banks and he lists qualifications such as his bench press, part time jobs that he does not give any details about and says that he is proficient in a few programming languages, but gives no more detail. Overall, I would say this cover letter is just frustrating. He makes bold claims and provides little information to back it up, while at the same time coming across as an arrogant know-it-all. If he rewrote this cover letter with a humbler tone and approach he may be able to display his hard-working attitude without the backlash.

It has been fun reading throught the entire cover letter, which clearly shows a lot of mistakes that were taught in our course. At first, the heading is inappropriate. Then he uses a really arrogant and even a little childish tone to express his belief in himself, listing a series of experience and details, some of which were irrelevant to the job that he was applying for. He should not mention such things in a cover letter like what's required in the resume, but should have focused on why he would be suitable for the job at J.P. Morgan. It's really interesting to see that people do write such things for their serious job application, and it's a good idea to avoid these problems in our applications.

Although, there was something definitely unconventional with this cover letter what really has me more concerned is the fact that all these big companies received this cover letter and it hit the news! I listed some things below that struck me about the cover letter itself.

•I don’t know about anyone else but some of these words had me heading to the dictionary.
•I don’t think it’s appropriate to mention gym weights in a resume even if you are trying to be funny.
•J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are not the same company.
•In the end he claims that he is not bragging, but through the entire thing I felt like he was.
•Some of the things he said he taught himself there are no way to prove that he is that proficient.
•He definitely has a HUGE ego.

This person had some serious guts sending it to a big name company. It makes me wonder whether this cover letter was made to stand out in this way. Most cover letters don’t even get read the whole way through, but this one succeeded in both getting read the whole way through and getting sent to many more companies.

In a weird way I think this cover letter did exactly what this guy wanted (assuming a guy would put time into doing 35 pull ups) He got more than one company's attention, he had an article written about him, and he made his cover letter stand out and grab the readers attention. While I was reading the cover letter part of me felt like the reader should have replied with "prove it." In between all his outrageous self confidence in taking on so many challenges and wanting more, he's just trying to prove that he is able to take on the challenges at J.P. Morgan. If I was running a company I would want someone like him with that confident personality to run a meeting and accept challenges in the work place at all times. Obviously he would need to be sculpted into a personality that doesn't come across so conceited. I know we are supposed to comment about all the things he did wrong in this cover letter but I have a feeling he did all the wrong things on purpose to get the readers attention. Maybe that was one of his new challenges; getting hired by writing an "incorrect" cover letter.

At the very least, I found this to be a humorous article. Recently there has been an explosion of professional workshops and technical writing courses teaching how to write cover letters and resumes by essentially a standard formula. As a result, employers are bombarded with very similar resumes and cover letters. The author this letter disregarded most conventions of a standard resume however and ran into problems. The most glaring mistake is that he failed to list any contact information. Also, his tone comes off as a bit arrogant.
However, I will give him credit in the fact that he was willing to try something different. Also, his accomplishments are clear and relevant to the company. Anyone that goes to the gym regularly knows bench pressing double your body weight is an absolutely monumental accomplishment that requires years of discipline. No doubt the author was qualified, but perhaps he should have used a different format.

Cover letters are a very important aspect of the job application process. They are the first impression that a potential employer will see and can make or break an individual. This article contains an excellent example of what not to include in a cover letter.
I still cannot wrap my mind around why someone would write about how much they can bench press or how many pull ups that they can do in a professional document. I understand that these may be impressive accomplishments, however, this information is more appropriate in a conversation and not a cover letter. Also, throughout the letter the writer seems confident in his abilities, but he soon begins to come off as arrogant. This is yet another flaw in his attempt to sway the hiring employer.
Altogether, I felt that this cover letter was more of a joke than an actual professional job document. I can see that the individual was trying to make himself different from the rest, however there are other ways to do this. Many websites such as, demonstrate useful tips on how to write a catchy and appropriate cover letter.

There are many parts to this cover letter that are shocking and/or wrong, but summarizing them will serve as a great exercise so that I myself never make the same mistakes.

First of all, this individual is overly confident; to a point where he comes across as excessively arrogant. It is one thing to toot your own horn and another to sound as though you believe that you are the best at everything you do. There is a fine line not to be crossed when writing a cover letter, but this summer analyst applicant has made leaps and bounds over the line.

He does make a great point when he concludes that egos can be a liability, but throughout the entire cover letter his ego stands out more than anything else. Also, saying that he is not a braggart or conceited is exactly the opposite of what I believe anyone reading this cover letter and article would think.

Although the section was titled "LOL" the first thing I thought was "facepalm". As an older article from The New York Times stressed, cover letters are essential as a 'graceful way to introduce oneself' - and graceful is possibly the last of the adjectives I would choose to describe Merrill Lynch's introduction.

Firstly, Lynch mentions many qualities in a laundry list as opposed to carefully demonstrating how he possesses them and even fails to name the quality that he values most highly in that statement. Additionally, his vocabulary appears to be composed of outrageously long words that don't seem to be used entirely properly and mundane nondescript words used repeatedly. Despite the highlight of self-improvement and perpetually seeking challenges, the implications of phrases such as "the work was too easy" give his cover letter an air of conceit.

While he demonstrates his ability to excel, Lynch's explanation of his skills reek of arrogance. I will say that his abilities seem quite exemplary, but his insistence that he can outdo anyone in any way leads him to include completely irrelevant information such as benching double his own weight. I certainly cannot do 35 pull-ups myself, but I doubt the lack of such quality would be the determining factor between candidates for a desk job (and if I'm sadly mistaken on this account, I promise to spend my evenings developing my upper body strength instead of doing my homework.)

Overall, I believe Lynch does not 'sell himself' well with connotation even more so than denotation. I think Lynch did not adequately analyze his most impressive traits and seems to have a conclusion that contradicts the rest of his letter - a foreboding introduction indeed, for one who seeks to become an analyst.

My first reaction to Merrill Lynch’s cover letter to Bank of America is that he created it as a joke. In my opinion the informality and the audacious content presented in the article is a negation to what one would typically find in a conventional cover letter. According to (, a blog entitled 50 Cover Letter No Nos; it contains 50 things to avoid when writing a cover letter. If Lynch’s cover letter were to be critiqued according to the principles in the previous blog he would probably not receive the finest appraisals.

For instance, one of the things to avoid when writing cover letters according to the blog is “communicating in self-serving or arrogant tone”. In Lynch’s cover letter he communicates in a very egotistical manner as he seems to boast about “placing out of two classes, taking two honor classes, and holding two part-time jobs” and achieving a very high G.P.A. Also, he brags about the weight he benches and the amount of pull-ups he can do. The personal irrelevant information Lynch includes and the lack of relating his skill to the employers needs are just a handful of things that could be used against him according to the previous blog (50 Cover Letter No Nos).

Whether Lynch created the cover letter as a joke or had meaningful intentions to attain a job with Bank of America will remain uncertain in my mind. However, it is assured that he definitely took a chance and was able to capture the reader’s attention and the attention of “the biggest names on Wall street” with his overly confident tone and the distinctive personal information he included.

I feel this article reveals more than just how not to write a cover letter. To begin, some of the most distinguishing characteristics I pulled from the cover letter were the strong conceited tone it gave off and the misaddressed header. I did laugh a little bit myself, but in a positive note, at least the writer managed to make himself stand out.

Although the cover letter is clearly not something to be imitated, I feel that overall the response it received was very uncalled for and unprofessional as well. Does plastering the candidate’s information throughout the corporation, all over the industry, and into the news project a good view of the company? It seems rather childish to me that such a well-known corporation would giggle and pass the document around like gossip and poking fun at it. Clearly the human resources department acts in an unprofessional manner. As a result, this situation only seems to raise questions of how the rest of the company operates, and if customers should be concerned about the privacy of other aspects of their financial business.

Many applicants want to stand out by writing in an unconventional way in their cover letters and resumes. Sometimes, it actually works if the writer has perfect writing skills and know clearly what he should and should not present in the cover letter. But in most cases , writing an unconventional cover letter is not a good choice.

The most crucial mistake is the incorrect company name in the heading. If I am the manger of Bank of America Merrill Lynch who read his cover letter, I would directly throw this cover letter away. The author probably used the same cover letter for both Bank of America Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan and he forgot to revise the name of company. Although it is not a malicious mistake, it indicates the carelessness of author.

After reading through the cover letter, I found that this cover letter can be used to any similar type of company. In other words, the author did not point out why he is the best applicant for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The writer mentioned that he was hard working. But how can he stand out of other 3000 hard working applicants?

The author does not understand the function of cover letter. The cover letter should present the applicant’s most distinguished aspects rather than all the information about himself. In the last paragraph, the author put too much information about his technical skills which should be presented in the resume.

This cover letter brags too much, even though the author states he does not intend to be viewed as a braggart. The author should display and state their qualifications, and let the reader judge them based on that. They may be a hard worker, but the personal accomplishments should be left out of the cover letter. They show an incredible work ethic and intelligence but are not appropriate for a cover letter. More information should be given about educational accomplishments to set this applicant above the rest of the applicants. The paragraphs are very involved and need to be shortened or made more concise. The author gives reasons for saying all of this about them self. If they removed the bolstering personal fluff, they would not need to apologize or justify them self as much. They use common idioms such as “terrifying efficiency” with are just unnecessary. They also give no contact info at the end or request an interview. This applicant is highly qualified from a schooling standpoint so an interview is very probable with bragging about oneself. Lastly, the author definitely has a large ego even though they claim that they do not. If up to me, I would look at this cover letter and not consider the applicant because their attitude sounds possibly detrimental to the work force and/or coworkers productivity if things do not go this applicants way on the job.

Recruiters go through thousands of Resumes and cover letters every year, with the majority being thrown out. Therefore, it is essential that your job application materials stand out.

I liked this cover letter for the reason that the writer attempted to stand out, however, I believe that he could have shown all of those credentials in a way that did not portray him as a braggart. The author of this cover letter clearly has many credentials that any corporation would like. The author could have simply presented them and asked for an interview so that they could expand upon their hardworking nature.

A lot of other commenters mention how the author of the cover letter does not properly address each company and how the cover letter is rather generic. These are additional mistakes, but most likely not the deciding factor. After all, the entire letter was obviously read by the recruiter as it was later sent out to many other companies.

The author certainly got everyones attention, but unfortunately the bragging approach with which he presented his credentials overshadowed what he was trying to present.

To be the sole object of ridicule amongst the nation’s most powerful and wealthiest corporations is not something one should be proud of. One individual managed to achieve such a status. It seems as if this particular applicant was going for a unique theme that would make him stand out and differ from the average cover letter that companies like J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs are used to seeing. This particular undergraduate definitely stood out, but certainly not in a good way.

This cover letter, which has made its way to the public eye, could be seen as a lesson learned for future applicants and for the author of this particular cover letter. It is clear that such a non-professional tone is not one that appeals greatly to the hiring managers of corporations. Such a cover letter could be a prime example in how to not write a document to be submitted when applying for jobs.

Here is a site that gives more examples of poor cover letters that all applicants should learn to stay away from

There are many ways to write a unique cover letter that could make an individual stand out. One that makes you the laughing stock of the corporate world is clearly not the way to go. I hope for this kid’s sake that his name is still not synonymous with the fool who wrote the terrible cover letter, although I did get quite a kick out of it.

It's not difficult to see why the cover letter referred to above was generally laughed at and not taken seriously. It was extremely boastful and almost comically written. With that said, however, I do not think the cover letter is a perfect example of what not to do. It does follow a logical format, explains its claims, and provides a telling supplement to a resume.

The problem, to me, lies not with the content of the letter. The student's academic performance while holding two part-time jobs and taking challenging courses is indeed impressive. His expression of interest in the specific company is also a nice touch. And finally, his knowledge of programming languages and his relevant internship experiences are important aspects of his application to include in the cover letter. Looking at the letter as a whole, I would probably want to include the same content, perhaps excluding the statement about bench press and pull-ups.

The problem, lies with the contents' delivery, or presentation. It is so over-the-top that it can hardly be taken seriously. At the end of the letter, he makes a point to say that he is not a braggart. But at that point, the damage has already been done. A little humility goes a long way, and if you have excellent qualifications there is really no need to present them in such a blatant way. In my opinion, the mistake that this applicant made was that he said too much. Clearly he has a very high opinion of himself but in a cover letter, you need to let your experiences do the talking. State what you have done and why it is important, but let your potential employers decide whether they think that makes you an "unflaggingly hard worker."

First things first, I have to give credit to the ambitious, double body weight benching, egocentric summer analyst for his bravado in actually sending this cover letter. However, that seems to be all I can give him.

I understand that the Wall Street is extremely competitive and applicants need some way of standing out in the crowd of resumes and cover letters. Confidence and humor are definitely a good ways to get noticed but this summer analyst took the hubris thing a little too far. I don't think putting in how many pull-ups and how much you can bench really helps that cause. Besides, the overconfidence, his cover letter does display some qualifications that J.P. Morgan or the other Wall Street banks might want to see in an applicant. He just doesn't put them in the right light.

Ultimately, this summer analyst had the right idea. Do something that different that will get your information noticed amid the thousands of average cover letters and resumes. Nevertheless, 30 pull-ups isn't what Wall Street is looking for. I think this summer analyst will be living this cover letter down for the rest of his life.

The cover letter described in the article actually made me laugh out loud. Part of me wants to believe it was written as some sort of practical joke because it is so ridiculous at parts, but I think the applicant just had no idea that he was committing career suicide.

One thing that really bothered me was the writer’s choice of words. In the second paragraph, he used ‘unequivocally’ and ‘ most unflaggingly’ in the same sentence. This seems like not only a bit of an overkill in terms of making a point, but also adds an air of unpleasant arrogance to the letter’s content. Companies want to hire people who show confidence in their applications but not those who state outright that they are superior to everyone else.

Another mistake that I noticed in the cover letter was the applicant’s inclusion of irrelevant information. Why would the company be interested in your being able to do 35 pull-ups? He should have picked better examples to illustrate his work ethic, ones that were actually related to the job for which he was applying.

Finally, I did not appreciate the amount of material that the writer shoved into the cover letter. He included his GPA and great number of academic experiences that would have better served him in his resume. He should have picked on a few examples/experiences and elaborated on them.

All in all, this applicant was unsuccessful in presenting himself well to companies and would benefit greatly from taking this class.

This article is about a man who applies to just about every large investment-banking firm in the country. He writes his cover letter with some fundamental flaws that make the companies he applies to take him as a joke.

The man in this article has completely ruined his chances of working for any of the giant companies he applied to. Through out the cover letter he brags about himself in an overconfident and arrogant manner. While he does have some impressive qualifications such as a “3.93” GPA he does not display them correctly. They should be stated as facts to let the employer decide weather he is as great as he thinks. He even states at the end of his resume that he is “not conceited”. This should not need to be stated, as the cover letter should not even appear to come off that way. He could have a very qualified and impressive resume if he would redo his resume and cover letter in a more humble manner. He should research information on how to write a cover letter at:

While it is important to have confidence when writing a cover letter, there comes a point when one can have far too much. This particular cover letter goes to an even further extreme, one at which the writer seems not just egotistical, but also desperate. His penultimate concluding paragraph, which is intended to make up for his hyperbolic language, actually worsens his case since he admits that he “just want[s] to outline… [his] usefulness.” If he feels the absolute need to go so far as to describe himself as “unequivocally the most unflaggingly hard worker” he knows, he is probably not that qualified for the position in the first place.

Another issue is that he seems to be applying to J.P. Morgan for the entirely wrong reasons. While he does acknowledge the fact that the firm has a great reputation and is a leading financial institution, he conveys that he wants to do investment banking because it is difficult. Not rewarding, interesting, or meaningful, just difficult. Before sending another application, he may want to re-think why he wants a job.

All I hear in this cover letter is I did this and I did that. Sure, he did stand out from all the other monotonous cover letters, but only because of his inappropriate ranting about how he's so much smarter than everyone else. The first thing I noticed right away was that he had it addressed to just J.P. Morgan. I'm surprised this letter even found it's way to management with such a vague address. Secondly, every paragraph starts with I and mostly all of the sentences in the paragraphs also start with I. This person didn't even take the time to use transition words.

Overall, two things in his cover letter really got under my skin. The first was his comment of being able to lift double his body weight and do 35 push-ups. Why in the world does that have anything to do with investment banking?! When writing a cover letter, you need to only include things that are relevant to the position you are applying for. The second thing he screwed up bad was the lie he wrote at the end of his letter saying "Please realize that I am not a braggart or conceited". This oxymoron must have been included when he realized how bigoted his letter was after he read it over and was a last resort in saving his dignity without having to revise anything.

On the other hand, I really did get a good laugh out of this and I approve of everything that makes me laugh.

Among other problems, the cover letter struggles to maintain a continuous tone. Throughout the piece, the author changes the formality from formal to informal. By changing the tone, the author confuses the reader by sending out mixed signals.

I believe that the author expresses himself well in some parts and poorly in others. I rather like the first paragraph because it draws the reader in and they want to know: what quality best represents this candidate over those listed in the previous sentence? Also, I think the applicant describes his attributes well in the third and forth paragraphs. Out of context, these excerpts make the applicant seems intelligent and enthusiastic, though slightly overeager.

On the other hand, the applicant talks about bench pressing and uses colloquial phrasing, such as “unflaggingly hard worker” and “terrifying efficiency.” This type of informal speech makes the author seem sarcastic and disingenuous. Before closing the letter, he draws attention to the informality by discussing his “lack” of ego. He says, “Please realize that I am not a braggart or conceited… Egos can be a huge liability, and I try not to have one.” This ironic statement highlights, rather than masks, his obvious arrogance. The author’s lack of humility is very off-putting for anyone who reads his letter, whether it be a peer or a future employer.

By switching the level of formality, the author changes the tone of the cover letter. This may cause the reader to question, not only the author’s decisiveness, but also the author’s sincerity.

Although there are others above who have given their reasons why they believe that this was actually a well written cover letter, I disagree entirely. While it is true that it is difficult to make a cover letter stand out from all of the others, there are many other, better ways to do so. A list of seven more traditional ways to do so can be found here:

I do not believe that this is a terrible cover letter. I do, however, believe that this is a terrible cover letter given the intended audience. Large investment firms adopt more of a traditional outlook, which this cover letter certainly was not. You do not see many people on Wall Street dressed as though they have just returned from doing 35 pull ups.

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