Terrible Cover Letters

On 02/16/2012, in Cover Letters & Resumes, by Jordan Wilson

Last week a cover letter from a JPMorgan job applicant went viral due to its sheer …

Is awfulness a word?

I did not intend to comment on the cover letter as it seemed to be everywhere. Then my nephew sent me one of his cover letters for feedback and, for some strange reason, the JPMorgan cover letter kept flashing in my mind.

Sadly, a true story. 

The JPMorgan cover letter can be read here. The article includes links to other less than stellar job applications.

I recommend reading Business Insider’s “12 of the Worst Cover Letters We’ve Ever Received”.

Very funny stuff. And we all need a chuckle.

Yet valuable lessons may be learned in reading the submissions.

Be Memorable, But in a Good Way

Job applicants are constantly told they need to separate themselves from the hundreds (or even thousands) of candidates. But it is a fine line between coming across as a confident, success story versus being seen as a megalomaniac.

Be impressive, but not over the top.

Get Candid Feedback Before Submitting

Often people cannot see the forest for the trees.

Always have someone review and provide feedback on resumes and cover letters. If possible, find a reviewer with experience in the industry to which you are applying. Preferably someone who will be brutally honest in their assessment.

Relatives, friends, etc., may be too nice in their feedback. They do not want to hurt your feelings. But better to get kicked in the teeth before submitting your application than be the laughingstock of the internet later.

Learn More From Failure Than Success

You can often learn more from failures than from successes.

Reading the linked cover letters and the comments can improve your own letters. This same advice is applicable in business and life.

Most individuals observe and try to emulate successful people, companies, investors, etc. But you can learn even more from the bad clients, suppliers, partners, etc. Understanding how they have weakened their own situation may assist in avoiding the same problems in your life.

Any Communication Can Go Bad

It is not just the cover letter and resume to watch. Any communication can go bad.

Always review and consider prior to hitting send, leaving a voice message, posting on the internet, etc. Be discrete when discussing business in public.

Most companies conduct internet searches on job applicants and existing employees. You do not want to lose your job or miss out on a new opportunity due to a momentary lapse in judgement. Or, as this Maine school teacher found, confusing public with private messaging when posting nude photos on Facebook.

Read the terrible cover letters and have a good laugh. Then learn from the errors made.

Avoid making the same mistakes when submitting your own job application.

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