A Cover Letter that Became an Instant Classic

Business Insider posted a cover letter today. Not their usual beat, but this isn’t your usual cover letter.

For the full post, including a selection of some of the responses to the letter, see the Business Insider article here.

Cover Letter - Wall Street Instant Classic
via Business Insider

If you check out the responses Business Insider posted, you’ll see that this cover letter was an instant sensation. It would seem inevitable that this person is getting a job somewhere this summer.

For me, the power of this letter isn’t the bluntness (although many of the responders loved it), it’s that he followed up after he met someone and asked for what he wanted. I’ve talked about this in at least two posts: Taking Advantage of Opportunities and Putting Yourself Out There. That initiative is a very attractive character trait in any employee. It makes me as an employer feel confident about your odds of success with my organization.

While I think some people are just born with initiative oozing out of their pores, I also think it can be taught to some degree. And honestly, it’s so easy.

On two occasions I’ve had students at speaking engagements ask me about my internships. They’re both currently interns. See, wasn’t that easy? If you don’t ask, however, or don’t take (or create) the opportunity to tell someone about your goals, how can they ever help you?

Time for a personal anecdote:

The summer before I started law school I met an attorney at a mid-size firm I thought I’d like to work at one day (who, by the way, I met because we had a mutual acquaintance and I asked that person to introduce us). He invited me to stay in touch, so I emailed him a few times during my first year of law school.

In one of those emails I told him I really wanted to intern at his firm and asked if he had any advice. He told me his firm wouldn’t consider me because of my school (I started out law school at a lower-tiered school and later transferred up to a much higher ranked school), but he offered to pass my resume along to a judge he knew. That judge hired me for the summer, which turned out to be an excellent experience. In fact, the judge wrote my recommendation letter when I applied to transfer schools.

Anyhow, I continued to stay in touch with the lawyer from the mid-size firm. When I transferred to a better school, I emailed him the news. I mentioned his firm was coming to on-campus interviews and that I had submitted my resume. He was willing to put in a good word for me, and I got an interview. Long story short, not only did I intern with that law firm, I ended up with an offer from them upon graduation and spent two wonderful years there as an attorney.

Moral of the story: When you meet people, stay in touch… and don’t be afraid to tell them what you want. This letter should prove to you that if you’re not doing it, someone else is!

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