5 Most Ridiculous Cover Letters
December 8, 2014

5 Most Ridiculous Cover Letters

by Brian de Haaff

Hello! That is what your intro email yells at me when I see it show up in my inbox. I do not know you, but I am hopeful that you will be a good fit for our company. I still review most job candidates who send the team a note about a job. And that email that you sent is your cover letter, whether you know it or not.

If your initial email acts as your cover letter, do not squander the chance to be heard. Your first impression, positive or negative, will catch my eye and move you into the “look into more” pile or the “recycle” bin.

You have a brief moment to engage me or any other hiring manager. So, pull me in and give me a chance to work with you.

Forbes published an article revealing some secrets of hiring managers, and when looking at a resume, 30 seconds was the max time it took for them to make a decision. Your initial impression is the only chance to engage their interest, given how fast decisions are made. And reasons NOT to hire you are easier to spot than reasons you would make a good fit.

I have been thinking a lot about job candidates lately as we are rapidly growing Aha! which is product roadmap software for product managers. We are hiring terrific folks who are experts in product management and SaaS. Unfortunately, most intro emails are reused and often unrelated to the role. You can tell they just hit CNTRL + V.

Many are poorly formatted or contain bad grammar and spelling mistakes. But some just stand out for being more atrocious than the rest.

Here are the most ridiculous emails we have received in the last month. These are actual quotes taken from the emails.

“I am applying for my brother” This is crazy because adults should represent themselves. You are not sending your teenage son to camp or applying for preschool for your toddler. This only tells me that your sibling does not have the skills necessary for the job (which include speaking for himself).

“My husband lost his right hand in a farm accident in 2002” This is really terrible. I am an empathetic person and do spend a meaningful amount of time helping people and sharing advice with those who want it. But I am still a stranger to you and I do not need this level of personal background.

“I’ve had upper management ask me to personally loan them $1,000 cash” How is this relevant? Is this supposed to make you seem trustworthy or financially stable? And what kind of environment were you in that employees were being asked for loans, LoanStar Car Title?

“Tell me if you have any roles that would fit my skills” One person just referred me to his LinkedIn profile and asked me to come up with a job for him. Why don’t you tell me your skills and what you would be able to do for the company? If there is not a PR Manager listed in the open positions, we might not be a great fit right now. At a minimum, tell me why we should hire a PR person.

“Peekaboo! I just hacked your camera and I am watching you read this :)” This is just creepy. There is nothing else to say.

An intro email should be short and to the point. Clearly explain what role you are interested in and include three to five bullet points that explain why you are a good fit. Attach your resume as a PDF, and include a link to your up-to-date LinkedIn profile. It is actually quite simple.

And do not try too hard. The best candidates send the simplest notes and only include a few key points.

Avoid being included on a list like this and find your perfect job. If you are applying for hundreds of jobs, assess what is not working for you and why no one is responding. Apply to fewer places and put more effort into applying for the right roles. This will make both you and your prospective employers happier.

What is the most ridiculous cover letter you have seen?

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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