Refreshing application letter shakes up Wall Street

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Not a day goes by when bored corporates don’t share an amusing or inflated cover letter or resume – now a simple, to-the-point email has made international headlines.

On Monday, one Wall Street banker received an email from a young applicant hoping to secure a summer internship – yet instead of flicking it straight through to HR or to the junk folder, the banker was struck by the applicants’ refreshing and honest approach. Sending it onto some mates, the email has since gone viral.

It has been reported that people on Wall Street are calling it one of the best cover letters they have ever seen. As the cover letter was sent around to bankers via email, it becomes clear that numerous recipients are touched by the young man’s honestly, and have intentions to hire him.

He acknowledged that it is highly unusual for undergraduates from “average universities” like the one he attends to get internships at such prestigious organisations – but hoped on this occasion they would make an exception.

  • Damian Trasler on 2013-01-17 11:57:29 AM

    This is interesting, but you don't answer the crucial question - is honesty a good policy? As a long-term jobseeker with few current qualifications, I am hesitant to brag or overinflate the experience I have, yet every resume expert assures me that companies "expect" this.
    One of my last letters was criticised by an HR professional because I had admitted that parts of the job description would be a challenge for me, but I had pointed out that I would work all the harder because of this.
    Applying for jobs seems to be becoming as arcane an art as bidding for paintings, or buying a house. no one says what they mean, no one asks for what they really want, and the actual truth of how you get a job is shrouded in mysticism and tradition. I've been told by a recruitment agency that 80% of jobs are never advertised, but are assigned through "networking", but have yet to gain anything from my own networking beyond a nice bunch of people apologising that "there aren't that many jobs out there."
    I understand that HR managers need to have ways of sifting through the hundreds of applications for each job, but requiring applicants to learn, in effect, a second language to describe their skills seems to the detriment of both parties. How can anyone be sure they can do the job? Or even that it's the job they want?

  • Ingrid Vaughan on 2013-01-17 1:03:46 PM

    It's kind of a mystery, this whole job search thing, because so much depends on the person reviewing the applications. I once applied for a job as a car salesperson. My cover letter stated that I know nothing about sales, have never had a sales position, but am passionate about the cars they were selling and have great skills in persuasion. I got an interview, and a job offer. The idea is to get you through the door. Now, as an HR Manager doing my own fair share of resume reading, I get bored with the usual blah blah "I am so great for this position because . . . " and find myself intrigued by people who are honest and tell me about themselves as people and not just regurgitate what's on their resumes. I think the key is to be authentic, and interesting. Tell the employer what it is about you - the person - that makes you a good fit. And especially, tell them why you want to work for their company. In a digital world there is something wonderful when someone humanizes the process with personal authenticity.

  • Lisa L. on 2013-01-17 2:47:49 PM

    I just gave a workshop at a University to a class of 70+ students on resumes, cover letters etc. There are really great recruits out there - I just wish I had more jobs. Jobs shouldn't just be about education or experience. Passion and persuation (as noted above) creates great companies and great employees.I believe that most people creating resumes for the first time are very honest but it probably doesn't get them anywhere. Eventually they feel the need to "beef up" their credentials.I respect the sincere and honest letters of application.

  • Michael W. Roberts on 2013-01-17 3:54:58 PM

    To answer Damien’s crucial question about honesty’s effectiveness, this sort of application letter usually only works for entry levels roles, especially temporary ones like an intern. Creativity, wit, and solid writing are what make the reader think that behind this letter is a potential star. Why not take a flyer?

    Similarly, Ingrid’s example is about an entry-level sales role that requires no formal education. Both types of roles make it easier for employers to base their decisions on personal characteristics, not deep experience.

    More senior roles require the nuanced combination of personal qualities and proven experience, so a witty letter confessing weaknesses isn’t enough.

  • Lucille Conlon on 2013-01-19 11:07:56 AM

    Although we cannot underestimate the value of skills or experience, personality and enthusiasm along with a strong desire to learn and succeed cannot be overlooked. I was once told by an HR professional that an individual with little experience was hired because they were practically jumping out of their chair with enthusism during an interview. How did that turn out? That individual started in a junior role with the company and that same enthusiasm and motivation helped the individual to grown into a successful management role.

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