College Grad Seeks $$$ Job, No Real Experience

According the Mirriam Webster dictionary hubris is defined as exaggerated pride or self-confidence. The key phrase being "exaggerated." BTW, don't ever start a college essay like this, it says amateur hour . . . but I digress.

Yahoo Finance recently led with an article entitled "How a Tenacious Summer Analyst Applicant Got Laughed at by Goldman, Morgan, and Everyone Else on Wall Street" that included the following cover letter (in part):
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 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.
The article goes on to note that the deadline for summer jobs/internships at the coveted BIG financial firms has past, but this cover letter has been passed all over Wall Street by the director who received it, "offering drinks 'to the first analyst to concisely summarize everything that is wrong with' the note, it has passed through more than a dozen firms."

There are two ways to look at this cover letter. The PT Barnum way, "All publicity is good publicity--even if it's bad," or can I have just a little hubris, PLEASE.

Lots and lots of people commented on this story, and those comments are revealing:

"He did one thing right. He stood out from the pack."

"I find it far more childish for a bunch of seasoned executives to pass around his cover letter like high school jocks passing around some poor nerdy kid's love letter to a cheerleader. It's a freakin' kid who probably was told to write personal things into his cover letter. I was told to do the same thing when I was in college by people that haven't looked for a job in probably 20 years. You learn resume writing and interviewing techniques through trial and error. A mature, thoughtful interviewer would have pointed out what he should have done differently. Only self-righteous, conceited, childish jerks would pass around his letter like that."

I have to agree with this last comment, when this human resource director received this cover letter, I am sure the sender didn't suspect JPMorgan would publish it on Yahoo. The whole redacted letter was included with the story, BUT one thing undergraduates or recent college graduates need to keep in mind is that they have NO real world experience. You are not going to be hired as VP or CEO of anything right out of college, unless you're the entrepreneurial type who starts his or her own company.

Think of a cover letter and resume as an advertisement of yourself. How would you use ethos, pathos, and logos to sell yourself? While confidence is good, braggadocio is obnoxious, whether you're qualified or not. Remember, as a new employee working your way up, you may spend more time with your co-workers then you would with your family. Would you want to work with this guy?


  1. Getting a job in the economy has been tougher than ever these past few years. With unemployment posting ridiculously high numbers, you have to do what you need to for a decent living. Approaching a job application with extreme confidence however seems pretty obnoxious. You're probably better off stating your experience, good qualities, and unique abilities but it seems a bit wild to throw irrelevant information to the company. They probably don't want to know about how you chose your classes to fit two jobs and your workout schedule.This type of person seems to be the guy that no one wants to be around at work, he seems like the one who would be bragging immensely about his accomplishment. Every little accomplishment will probably be the biggest deal to him, and he wont even think twice about yelling across the entire office to let it be known. Appealing to a complany can be hard, it's easier to just stick to what you know when you apply for a job. Stick to your experience and your personal knowledge and let it take care of the rest.

  2. From my experience of applying to super markets and convenience chains throughout high school and college, there aren't any skills or achievements you can really put onto a resume you’re sending out to Safeway. Having spent almost all of my time in school it seems like the only achievement I can list is that I get good grades, have friends, or am involved with a club but often those are unfitting or unimportant.

    In many cases resumes want to have a show don’t tell policy but there’s nothing for a young person to show without seeming like a braggart. Most people looking for their first job don’t have awards, work experience, referrals, or large projects they can list out in a resume and instead have to result to “I’m a hard worker” or something similar.

    The above letter shows pretty well that students have no actual marketable skills but also don’t know how to write a resume. It’s an epidemic, no one below 25 knows how to write a resume but it is never covered in school. Maybe there should be a college course or workshop to teach students not just the skills they need in a job but also how to get a job.

  3. I don't know what to say. We're promised high paying jobs and a really good/relaxing life style for going to college. But when we are done and have a degree, we are told that we don't have any experience in the work force. So we have to settle with whatever job we can happily receive. Wow, makes you regret taking out so many loans for paying for college. There are times where I think to myself and say is college really worth it at this point of my life or should I just start somewhere simple and once I've collected a few years of work experience, I can go back and get that degree? but at the end it's all the same. I think the best thing for a student to do, is find an internship with a company that has a job relating to what career they are pursuing. So that once they have their degree, they also have a few years of experience under their shoulders as well.

  4. It's completely true when they say newly graduated college students don't have any real world experience. In a way I saw this when I transitioned from High School to college and all the different aspects. The gaps continue to widen as I slowly learn more, and I could only imagine how lost I will be applying for jobs after graduation.

    First of all someone should have told the applicant not to expect to get a job at a place like Wall Street. It's obvious this guy was extremely confident in himself, but someone who would think realistically should have had their resume reviewed/edited. This all goes to show how little experience college students and newly graduates have.

    Honestly the fact that the employees at the firm passed around the resume and made fun of it is very childish. Someone should have reminded them of how it felt to apply for a job right out of college, because I'm sure they weren't pros to begin with. I feel like college is supposed to make us wiser and teach us skills that many of us don't have. Now that I'm in college I see how little my previous education taught me, so I'm hoping I won't have the same thoughts right after graduating college.

  5. Hayden BeaudreauMay 14, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    The kid's cover letter is nothing to be ashamed of. To be capable of accomplishing all those tasks and still being able to manage almost a 4.0 in college, that sound pretty damn impressive to me. I work a single part time job, go to school and go to the gym about 3 to 5 times a week and still can't manage grades like that, and I am not even in an honors class. The statement made was very impressive, to the right audience. He was laughed at because of the statement, "and in the same time I managed to bench double my bodyweight and do 35 pull-ups", only because that is completely irrelevant to any skill required for wall street. Truly, I'm sure many of the wall street workers were impressed by this as well, it's just comical because it doesn't fit with any of the job description other than showing hard work and dedication. Then again, isn't that what any employer is seeking?

  6. Personally, I feel sorry for the guy who wanted the job because he did exaggerate about himself in a personal light, but then again a person is asked to show their potential in a letter. Honestly, for the guys on Wall Street they expect what they know, but they should also know that at one point they too were hubris teenagers themselves. They fail to realize that a college graduate is only trying to exercise the job they want, and to aim big in a sitting is something few people do. I say the kid has some guts to go and ask for a job on Wall Street coming right out of school. In the case of myself, my ethos is my education and my coursework, as well as the school I came from and where I got my high school education. My knowledge establishes my logos but my aspirations shown in a professional manner will be my pathos. I will not talk about myself like I'm some hot shot coming out of school, but then again it helps to butter myself up at least a little. I think the thing that the guys on Wall Street laugh at is the way he worded his cover letter because supposedly college is teaching you for this, so they think "what a waste of your money kid". But to be passing around the letter is just hurtful and honestly, the kid has potential for more than just a Wall Street job.

  7. I definitely agree with the one comment that the author got himself noticed.  Companies receive a tremendous amount of resumes for each potential position and whether the individual has real life experience or not I imagine they all start to look alike after awhile.  However, I do not think this is the type of attention you want. During high school, we are trained to speak of our accomplishments as a path to our college aspirations.  GPAs and AP courses become badges of value.  In the real world, you will most likely be starting in a position where you are starting near the bottom and learning as you go.  What I want is a chance to learn from others as put what I have learned in college to work.  I think you should be humble and accept that those reading your resume have experience and skills you may not have and hopefully you will get a chance to learn from them.  I would focus on what is pertinent to the position and try to convey my enthusiasm to have an opportunity at any level and if given that chance follow though with my promises. 

  8. If I were writing a cover letter for a potential employer, I would use ethos, pathos, and logos to show my unique abilities and work ethic in order to get the job. I would appeal to my authority in the positions I have held in the clubs I partake in, appeal to pathos by mentioning the hard work and money I don’t have that I have put in my college career for jobs that are rare in this failing economy, and appeal to logos by stating facts about my success in college like my improving grade point average throughout the years or any rewards I have received in the extracurricular activities that I have participated in as my statistics. But what do I know? I’m only in college and have no real experience.

    As for working with this guy? I think his letter, from the excerpt I read, was different than the usual, simple, cookie-cutter outline everyone says your cover letter should mention: your irrelevant experience, qualities, abilities, and so on. He at least showed he has great time management with school, work, and leisure and that he likes a challenge which shows he will work hard to prove he can do it. I honestly can say I wouldn’t mind working with him or even learning how to do 35 pull-ups from him.

  9. If I was applying for a job right out of college, I would not state anything personal about my outside activities. I also would not apply to a job that is entirely out of my league. I would steer clear from using pathos altogether because an interview will not be earned by appealing to someones emotions. That attempt seems desperate and whiny. I would rely completely on ethos and logos to highlight my credentials, point out my attendance record from past employment and mention that i have been with all my jobs for lengthy time periods. I would rather appear cocky so that this scenario in the article does not happen to me. I would not use ugly words like "unflaggingly" and I would not send in the resume until it sounded as if a college educated individual wrote it. If I was a senior executive on wall street, I would not hire this college graduate based on the fact that he is clearly under qualified. However, since he did stand out, i would possibly offer an internship or give him some advice on how to transition from college to a first real job.


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