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After reading this cover letter, I lost mental weight.


How to do your cover letter wrong.
You call this a cover letter?



You’ve probably read tons of articles teaching you how to craft a great cover letter,  I guess Mark, a New York University undergraduate did the same while he prepared his application for a summer position with the prestigious JP Morgan. But he unfortunately came up with a 400-word joke for a cover letter. This was what he wrote.

Dear Sir or Madame:

I am an ambitious undergraduate at NYU triple majoring in Mathematics, Economics, and Computer Science. I am a punctual, personable, and shrewd individual, yet I have a quality which I pride myself on more than any of these.

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 left Villanova because the work was too easy. Once I realized I could achieve a perfect GPA while holding a part-time job at NYU, 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.

I say these things only because solid evidence is more convincing than unverifiable statements, and I want to demonstrate that I am a hard worker. J.P. Morgan is a firm with a reputation that precedes itself and employees who represent only the best and rightest in finance. I know that the employees in this firm will push me to excellence, especially within the Investment Banking division. In fact, one of the supporting reasons I chose Investment Banking over any other division was that I know it is difficult. I hope to augment my character by diligently working for the professionals at Morgan Stanley, and I feel I have much to offer in return.

I am proficient in several programming languages, and I can pick up a new one very quickly. For instance, I learned a years worth of Java from NYU in 27 days on my own; this is how I placed out of two including: Money and Banking, Analysis, Game Theory, Probability and Statistics. Even further, I am taking Machine Learning and Probabilistic Graphical Modeling currently, two programming courses offered by Stanford, so that I may truly offer the most if I am accepted. I am proficient with Bloomberg terminals, excellent with excel, and can perform basic office functions with terrifying efficiency. I have plenty of experience in the professional world through my internship at Merrill Lynch, and my research assistant position at NYU. In fact, my most recent employer has found me so useful that he promoted me to a Research Assistant and an official CTED intern. This role is usually reserved for Masters students, but my employer gave the title to me so that he could give me more work.

Please realize that I am not a braggart or conceited, I just want to outline my usefulness. Egos can be a huge liability, and I try not to have one.

Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.



Did you read it till the end? I didn’t, not at first. Many recruiters will do same to a cover letter that looks anything close to what Mark wrote. Here’s what any recruiter expects you to know.

A Cover Letter is Not all about You: Mark really had fun writing this cover letter, he probably thought it was an essay about his life. I know Mark loves to do pull ups and probably loves hard work but I’m yet to wrap my mind around what he had to offer JP Morgan. It may not be totally wrong to ostentatiously talk about your accomplishments in an informal event, but if you are applying for a job then reduce the self- glorification to its barest. There are better ways to prove you are the candidate potential employers look out for.


–  Know the Company You intend to Work  with: JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are two different companies, and Mark obviously missed it somewhere. I agree we are all prone to making mistakes but the very obvious ones like mixing up company names are big NOs . Mark’s slip-up showed how careless he was with his research. We are no longer in a world where information is restricted to a select few, you can gather facts and opinions on almost anything imaginable.  A thorough research about the company or organisation you are applying for is very crucial because it lets you capture the needs of potential employers and show them you are deeply interested in the organisation. If you can’t avoid misspelling your potential employer’s name or making any spelling or grammatical error in 300 words, how would you handle more rigorous responsibilities? Take the time to dig out the right information.


– Simplicity Goes a Long Way: A cover letter basically serves the purpose to get recruiters interested (or curious) enough to look at your résumé and writing an epistle only kills that charm. It is very understandable Mark wanted to present himself to his potential employers in the best light possible and had to look out for buzzwords and catchphrases to capture their interest but, terrifying efficiency?  Now I’m scared.


– Whatever You Do, Do not think of an Elephant: You thought of an Elephant, didn’t you? It’s a psychological fact that every word has a frame and when you negate a frame, you evoke the frame.

Please realize that I am not a braggart or conceited, I just want to outline my usefulness.  

By making that conclusion in his cover letter, Mark placed himself in a very bad light. He probably removed the scales off recruiters’ eyes, making them realize how much of a braggart he is. A cover letter should, at all times, emphasize your qualifications and value to prospective employers; more importantly, it should portray the right personality.


I won’t fail to mention, proofread your work as many times as possible. Get someone to do the same for you. Let every paragraph, sentence or phrase be a punch line, save recruiters any mental stress by conveying the right message appropriately. Define the problem employers are trying to solve and in one easy read, prove you can deliver solutions.  


What other things did you notice about Mark’s cover letter? Kindly share your thoughts in the section below.

Nathan Jeffery
Notification Bell