The Worst Cover Letter in Eight Years

I’ve been an executive recruiter for eight years. I have read probably hundreds, if not thousands, of cover letters. Up until a day or so ago, the worst I had received were a blank cover letter (the resume was sent without the sender writing a word!) and one that said, and I quote, “Here’s my resume. Call me. 123-456-7890.” Then I received the following cover letter. (The underlined phrases are hyperlinks. I have removed any identifying references.)

Dear Bruce Hurwitz,

It’s been awhile since we’ve touched bases so I’m following up. If you recall I’m for looking Internet Marketing opportunities. Attached a copy of my resume which details my 35 years of my on-line (SEO,SEM,PPC & Social Media) marketing experience in word format as well as a PDF of my LinkedIn profile such you may have quick access to my credentials. I upgrade my LinkedIn profile constantly. My references are there too. Click on the LinkedIn icon below to see the latest updates and references.

Should you come across an opportunity that matches my skill sets I would love to hear from you! I can be easily be found by searching the term “Director of XYZ” on any internet platform (Google, Bing, AOL, MSN) in the world usually #1 in the returned search results. Very familiar with Google local search with many top listings here’s more. Google Local Search. I do LinkedIn profiles as well. Want to be listed first in your vertical? Achieve LinkedIn Top Listings I can help.

Search is losing traction to Social Media. I have experience with SM as well. My list of social media services I built for clients over the years. My Social Media Services. If you want to know more about Social Media here’s a good presentation that cover’s the basics Social Media Presentation with Nielsen Data

I’m just a click away, looking forward to hearing from you. If you have questions I have answers.

Best regards


Let’s play a game. How many typos and grammatical errors can you find? I found 12. So why is this one so egregious? The purpose of a cover letter is to get the recipient to read the resume. Both the cover letter and resume represent the sender. I don’t know this woman. She lives thousands of miles away and it is doubtful we would ever meet. So all I have to gauge her professionalism by is her e-mail and its attachments. General rule of thumb; if the cover letter is sloppy the person’s work will be sloppy. Guess what? Executive recruiters do not submit sloppy people to their clients. So the cover letter failed to accomplish its goal. I did not bother to even open the attached resume, let alone read it. (I also was not comfortable clicking on the hyperlinks.) But forget about the errors and look at the content. It is 2011. I readily admit I am not very good at math, but 2011 minus 35 is 1976. There is no way this person has 35 years “on-line marketing experience.” While she may have computer experience dating back to the late 70s, there was no “on-line marketing” until well into the 80s. So added to sloppy is inaccuracy regarding experience. Note the claim of a first place Google rating. Guess what. Not true. “Mary” came up second! Very impressive, except it is her website which happens to be the search phrase. It would be pretty difficult not to come up on top. Moreover, a high Google listing is not necessarily a good thing. All it means is the person, company, product, what-have-you, has the most references on the Web. For example, a year or so ago a woman here in New York purchased eye glasses from a company she found on the Web. Problem was, the company was run by a crook. The reason for the high ranking was there were many online complaints about the owner. The victim admitted she did not bother to do anything more than simply click on the first link that appeared. She assumed a high ranking of Google was a positive reflection on the company. It wasn’t. So, if “Mary” had said she had a top Google ranking if “Internet Marketing Specialist” or “SEO Consultant” was the search term, that would be impressive. Having her website come up on top means very little. Guess what? If you Google “hsstaffing,” my website, it comes up number one! Big deal. It’s a similar story about the implications of appearing at the top of a LinkedIn search. “Mary” has about 2,600 first degree contacts. When she does a search, the basis is those 2,600 individuals. Since the search phrase “Director of XYZ” is rather special, she will most certainly come up at the top, or near the top, of a search. However, my network has over 25,500 first degree contacts. A search of my network shows I have 17 first degree contacts with the term “Director of XYZ” in it; 877 second degree contacts; 189 Group contacts; and 966 third degree and all others. Since she is now a second degree contact, the highest rank she could be is eighteenth. But the term is so rare it only appears in eight percent of my network’s profiles. In a search of the term “Internet Marketing Specialist” or “SEO Consultant,” which are more likely to be the terms used by someone searching for someone who can help them with their Internet presence, “Mary” does not come up in the first 100 responses on my network. In other words, if you use a rare phrase for a Google of LinkedIn search, you will come up at or near the top of the results. But if the phrase is so rare that no one will be likely to use it, it means nothing. So her claims of professional success are meaningless. Remember, recruiters work for their clients, not their candidates. It’s not my job to find a job for this woman. It’s my job to find the best candidates for my clients. I would not be doing my job if I did not read cover letters and resumes with a critical eye. Granted, I usually will make a few corrections. After all, we all make mistakes. But when it is this bad, it cannot be ignored. To reiterate: When you apply for a job, you are not standing in front of the recipient of the cover letter and resume. You do not physically represent yourself. The cover letter and resume are your representatives. If they are sloppy the only conclusion a recruiter can draw is that you are sloppy. And recruiters do not submit sloppy candidates to their clients. Period. Image from Camilo Torres/Shutterstock

When most people think of Nike, they think of shoes, retail stores, and, of course, athletes. That's all true, but there's more. Behind Nike's walls, you'll find the doers and thinkers who design, create, and innovate every day. There are also data scientists who discover and leverage athlete insights to create the future of sport.

You might be surprised to learn about the impact you can have in Data & Analytics at Nike versus at a major tech giant. Nike employees get to work on a wide array of challenges, so if you're obsessed with math, science, computers, and/or data, and you love sport, these stories may inspire you to work at Nike.

SHOW MORE Show less

Employee loyalty is something every company longs for. It's estimated employee turnover costs as much as 130-200% of an employee's salary. When a talented, knowledgeable, trained employee leaves, it's bad for business. And, when lots of them leave, it can be the kiss of death.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the interview situation one of our viewers, Remi submitted. He was in an interview and was asked the question: How many cows are there in Canada right now? - What a weird question but this is a technique that some hiring managers are using these days.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Kevin submitted. He is a college student who's working a part time job to make ends meet. The manager/owner of the company has become a micro-manager who watches him work on camera and reads his company emails. A bit over the top wouldn't you say?

SHOW MORE Show less

All work and no play can create a tense and unwelcoming environment. Studies have shown that employers that offer additional perks have employees that are happier and more loyal to their place of employment. If you are looking for an employer that acknowledges how important it is to give its employees a place to de-stress and bond with their co-workers, check out these companies!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if you worked for an owner who micro-manages you my watching you work on camera and reading through your company emails.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less