201 Cover Letters — Oh Cover Letters, go back to where you came from

“Cover letters are interesting” -

- No one ever.

You are encouraged to have cover letters when you apply to jobs. Its one of those things which you are convinced has negligible value. But hey — you have to go and check off the boxes for application to that job don’t you? So, aside from writing clickbait-y headlines I have a pretty good sense of interviews — having bombed so many of them.

I am a man of action, at a startup with traction, staying true to my faction, making about a fraction. Welp that was sad

Seriously, my hit ratio is about 1 in 30. But I almost always get called for the phone interview, or at the very least, the first round. Here is what you can do -

People have pretty short attention spans. So make it stick. I checked Facebook 4 times before I got to writing this line, I am sure you did too, while listening to Spotify and thinking about why this God Awful train doesn’t go any faster. So here is what you should do instead.

Understand that recruiters are people too

Say what now?

Hard to believe, but yes, they are. They are living breathing people. They send out way more email over the course of an hour than we do over the course of a normal workday. A lot of their day is inundated with rejections. I decline an InMail invite, I rejected them. Some might even say I dissed them. I never reply to their recruiting emails, I diss them. If you don’t reply, its similarly applicable for you as well. Its sad but true. They get rejected way more that you or I do. My lifetime ratio is 30:1, I think they have 30 declines on an hourly rate.

Surprise them!


Recruiters live on LinkedIn, they love that shit. Connect with them. If ever you open an email with “Hello recruiting team”, stop. Don’t send that email, bop your head a couple of times and go back to find a recruiter. Use the search function right here.

Or you know, push any of the other buttons

After you find them, connect with them and send them a message, ideally in the intro. Make it personal but not creepy. For example —

Hi Francisco — See that you are enjoying your time at “Unicorn”. Would love to chat more about <JOB THAT I HAVE SEEN ADVERTISED>

Some common sense rules here -

- If his name isn’t Francisco, don’t call him Francisco. Copy and Paste are powerful weapons but you can shoot yourself in the foot.

- Don’t make a demand. Its called a connection request for a reason. Politely request

Now, Wait. Don’t be desperate, let them accept your invite.

A personalized note goes a long way. Be that guy who is memorable. Be that gal who really did her research. Do not be that guy. If you ever wonder if you are that guy, lets face it — you probably are.


For example —

When you address people,

Do this: Jerry and the recruiting team

Not this: Minions

When you start off your note,

Do this: Would love to know more about

Not this: Respected Sirs and Madams, I like to party and would be a good culture fit

When you are making a point for your candidacy,

Do this: In the past 6 months, the product seems to have really hit its stride and pulled off wonders for such a notoriously aggressive market

Not this: I saw that one tech crunch article that one time by that one person who doesn’t really work there anymore but I thought it was kind of cool

When adding a little more detail,

Do this: I am passionate about your technology stack and the problem that you are solving. I believe this is a worthy cause and I want to be part of you team.

Not this: I like apps and shit. You have an app, lets make a beautiful app together

When making your case

Do this: I belong because my interest directly shows through in the projects that I have listed here in X and Y

Not this: I like money, you have money. I want that money

Your fully finished email should not be more than 5–6 lines, it should have a lot more substance than your vanilla cover letters and people should enjoy reading it! If you hit even one of those objectives, you’d be better placed than 80% of the competition.

Of course, finding hiring managers is easier than trying to find recruiters. But lets reserve that for another conversation