Best or worst cover letter ever? You decide

A brutally honest internship plea is garnering criticism and kudos from Wall Street.

By Aimee Picchi Jan 16, 2013 4:06PM

Image: College student (Stockbyte/Getty Images/Getty Images)With a tough economy making it harder than ever for college grads and students to get a job, one finance undergraduate decided to take an unusual tack: a brutally honest cover letter.

The letter is apparently getting both praise and criticism from Wall Street executives. Whatever you might think of the letter, it apparently has produced results: Some companies are reportedly considering hiring or interviewing the student. 

The writer, whose name was blocked out when it was leaked to Business Insider, didn't spare the author's ego. Here's an excerpt, which blocked out identifying information:

"I am aware it is highly unusual for an undergraduate from average universities like [BLOCKED] to intern at [BLOCKED], but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception. . . 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 writer, apparently a man, describes his abilities as including having "no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and will work for next to nothing."

Some of the responses among executives who reviewed the letter included those calling it "hilarious but bold" and another who wrote, "This might be the best cover letter I've ever received."

Yet others were more critical of the approach, questioning whether an applicant should be hired for sounding like a "call for charity," according to Forbes

"I would still prefer the candidate to have something special about them that they can tell me about, rather than a person who pretty much admits that he or she is pretty average," Lex van Dam, who runs the hedge fund Hampstead Capital, tells Forbes. 

The gambit might reflect the risks students and young people are willing to take when looking for a job. More than half of recent college grads were jobless or underemployed, according to a report last year from The Associated Press.

Still, the strategy just might pay off for the blunt writer: "Tons of people are trying to hire him," according to Business Insider. 

More on Money Now

Jan 16, 2013 4:45PM
When I was hiring folks, I never looked for someone who just fit the need. i always tried to hire folks who were smarter than me. If you are too insecure to have intelligence around you, you have really limited your potential. 

Now that i am out looking for a job that fits, i find it amazing how Human Relation Personnel put up self inflicted road blocks to getting well rounded employees. I feel I am better off not working for folks who pigeon hole people's skill and abilities. 

I can be choosy because I'm not on the dole.

Who ever hires him hit the jackpot!  I would rather hire someone like him.  His honesty shines through.

Would it not be easier to get an applicant who is willing to "lower" him/herself to advance than one who pumps himself up that you don't know what is true?  The latter might become a disappointment later on.

Also, someone with no experience but is willing to learn is alot easier to train.  You know he has the educational experience once he graduates.  Be brave and take a chance.

Jan 16, 2013 5:33PM

It sounds like the guy really wants to work, which is more than I can say for 95% of the college graduates today.  They want a paycheck but are unwilling to put forth any effort once hired. It seems that all mundane chores are beyond their assumed scope of responsibility and all they want to do is play on the computer and look important. My husband and I have owned health care businesses for years and there is not 1 in 30 applicants who will look for what needs to be done and then do it without being asked.


This guy sounds like that 1 in 30.

Jan 16, 2013 5:16PM

I'd like to see the whole letter.  Obviously, only the most brazen segments were pulled for this article, but I have no doubt that the rest of the letter was chock full of good reasons; thus showing the writer's communication skills, confidence, and the ability to take a risk - all key drivers to a prospective employer. 


Well played.

Jan 16, 2013 5:20PM
Brutal honesty makes lot of enemies. Most people prefer the lie and the suck-ups.
Jan 16, 2013 7:52PM
The applicant is telling a potential employer:  "I want to work for YOU, no matter what."  If that is a bad message in the eyes of recruiters, maybe it's the recruiter who needs to be replaced.
Jan 16, 2013 8:23PM
I don't think honesty is a desired trait for an investment banker position.
Jan 16, 2013 6:36PM
Hlarious...and he has a greaat attitude-hope he gets a job and turns into the next Buffet...
Jan 16, 2013 6:09PM
Looks like that resume' cover-letter hit more desktops than trash bins!  Bet someone has already hired him just for having gumption and spirit.
A person I know was hired because they included a rejection letter to them self with their resume'; even had a 'SEND' button... How efficient, realistic, and detail oriented can you get!
Jan 16, 2013 7:17PM
Give me someone who is willing to go the extra mile, work hard, work smart, be creative and is willing to learn everyday over another MBA from a top 10 school. Everyday of the week I would hire this kid. PS. I hire the MBA's and I am from a mediocre school with mediocre grades and I made the INC. 500 twice. Who am I?
Jan 16, 2013 8:22PM
"I would still prefer the candidate to have something special about them that they can tell me about, rather than a person who pretty much admits that he or she is pretty average," Lex van Dam, who runs the hedge fund Hampstead Capital, tells Forbes. ...

I read the whole letter.  Lex is a complete jagov who is WAAAYYYY overpaid and probably one of the dooshbags responsible for all of the scumminess that happens on Wall Street.  The kid said he had a perfect GPA Lex, perfect GPA. Not a ridiculously neat  sounding name or pedigree or perfect haircut, but a perfect GPA.  Says he'll work hard, wants to know EARN it.  Maybe I'll become a gazillion-air just so I can decide not to invest with  Hampstead Capital.
Jan 16, 2013 9:21PM
This guy wanted to stand out from all the others that read pretty much the same.  He did that and drew attention to himself.  That means he is willing to think outside the box and is a risk taker.  These people build a company, not break one down.
Jan 16, 2013 7:17PM
he doesn't have a silver spoon hanging out of his mouth or fater making the right phone calls.  I bet he is not east coast .   He is is honest, sincere, and wanting to get in.  Great thoughts and unique approach, I would hire him and get him experience. He'll work without wanting his superior's job in three years.
Jan 16, 2013 10:17PM
Honest, yes, and some people don't want it.  That is a mistake on their part.  Most people believe they are more important than they really are.  "It is the most sobering day in ones life when they find out that they are not as important as they thought they were".  
Jan 16, 2013 8:36PM

Mr. Vann Damm, I think you missed the obvious. go back read it again and think about it for a while. Hopefully a neuron will sputter and you will gain useful insight.

Jan 20, 2013 10:50PM
What a crock of garbage from Forbes.  What he really wanted to say was "I do not know this schmuck and his last name does not ring a bell, meaning I do not know his father.   If his last name is Madoff, I want to see him".  You get any decent job by who you know.   If they hire you and did not know you or your family, it is because nobody else would take the job.   Once you have the experience, then you become valuable and other companies will want to steal you.  Better to steal someone with experience than to teach some nitwit just out of school unless the job is boring and you can get away with paying them nothing.
Jan 16, 2013 6:19PM
My cover letter became a hit song - 'I'm sexy and I know it... wiggle wiggle wiggle'.
Jan 16, 2013 5:46PM
I don't care how bold or fresh.  Spelling and grammar errors and slang have no place in the cover letter.  You can be different without being dumb.  No wonder students from that university don't intern at investment banks.
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