5 Cover letter mistakes that make you look nuts

Melissa and I are in a hotel room in New York City to meet with a guy who has a lot of money and wants to do a makeup line. And of course Melissa and I said we could definitely launch a makeup line. I mean, we shop at Sephora, so we can launch something like that.

Of course it will not be something like that at all because we are differentiating our makeup line. We are not sure how, though, which is why we came to New York a day early so we could order room service and walk around in pajamas and read blogs about the resurgence of brick-and-mortar stores, which we will be leading. Of course.

But first we have to do other things. Like Melissa has to show me this company that called Melissa about recruiting. It’s Everlane. The catalogue is so cool. They tell you the price of every single thing on the page. Like, the price of the fabric. But I can’t keep buying new clothes, so I tell Melissa to get Everlane to sponsor my blog so we can get free clothes. And Melissa takes a picture of me pitching myself to the company. And they are going to be blown away by how good their catalogue looks on my blog.

Then Melissa has to go read resumes because she is now a million-dollar-an-hour recruiter for hipster companies. In fact, Melissa should just sponsor this blog and buy me all the Everlane clothes.

She is reading resumes. She says, “This person wrote in their cover letter that the job will be good for them because SOMA is an easy commute.”

I take a look. It is true. Someone has actually said that they are qualified for the job because it’s a good commute for them.

Melissa tells me that people write stuff about their commute in their cover letter all the time. She is shocked that this particular person is so old because “people should know better by that age,” she says.

Rule #1 Don’t focus on your needs focus on the company’s needs.

I start writing my blog post about my course for parenting based on personality type. I get stuck feeling sorry for myself that no one knew my personality type when I was ten. I should not have been in tap dance classes. I’m too achievement-oriented to be relegated to a kick line. I think of all the overachiever resumes that Melissa gets.

Seriously. She is hiring for executive assistants at startups and she gets resumes from Harvard, professional athletes, United Nations envoys. It’s all super surprising to me.

But Melissa brings things back to reality by reading a snippet from a cover letter: “I have a 3.9 grade point average from [redacted] college, and please note that it is an accredited school.”

I feel bad for the person and I think maybe I should get his email address and offer to rewrite his cover letter. Then I see the cover letter is written in all caps. Yes. ALL CAPS. And I realize he is hopeless.

Rule #2 Don’t highlight your stupid school.

Rule #3 Definitely don’t do it in all caps.

Melissa is hiring assistants for people you would just die of excitement to meet. Even I would die to meet them and I hate meeting people so much that I come to NYC and don’t leave my hotel room. I am trying to think of a way to tell you how great Melissa is at her job. I think this tells you:

She found a guy who has a gender-neutral name and came to the interview dressed as a woman. And during the interview everyone avoided pronouns and the interview went well and Melissa picked the person as her top pick for the job. And guess what? The hiring manager loved him. Or her. And gave her/him an offer. And I feel like that’s how good Melissa is, that she can get some boys club startup guy to offer a job to a cross-dressing transgender guy or whatever the lingo is.

Rule #4 Leave cross-dressing off the cover letter. Just assume people are fine with it. 

I have to call home to have my husband check to see if my son has been watching porn and my husband says we need to put some sort of security on the computer. And I start hunting for something I can tell my husband to download and I find android security and adultery security and I think Melissa is going to scream at me for being generationally challenged when it comes to search, but we hear chanting and we look out the window, which we can only open two inches because we are in Times Square and they don’t want jumpers, and we see there is a protest about the Eric Garner decision.

I get my camera to take a picture. “Quick!” I tell Melissa. “We are so cool for being here. We are on the cutting edge! It must be documented on the blog that I was in the middle of something exciting.”

Melissa says she has to take a picture because she is the official photographer of the blog. So she got to take the picture.

I am the assistant photographer. I am relegated to taking pictures of my knee.

I didn’t mean for this picture to go on the blog. I sent the picture to Melissa to show her that my knees are getting wrinkly and I think I need a face lift on my knee, or whatever it’s called for a knee.

Melissa says, “I hate when people write in their cover letter that I will be foolish not to hire them. Who do they think they are?”

Rule #5 Don’t threaten the reader. (Note: Melissa says only men do this.)

I say, “Do you have any cover letters where someone did well?”

And she says, “I have a part of the application where people have to write 150 characters about themselves. And this person wrote:

If you could only have 5 words on your tombstone, describing yourself, what would it say?
Mine: She wanted to learn, everything.

The punctuation is so gorgeous that I read the sentences twice, and I imagine myself using a comma with such intention.

And then I realize that I am too wound up in appearances. To be clear, I am not crazy. Appearances matter way more for women at work than men. But somehow I just wrote a whole blog post about make up and clothes and porn and plastic surgery and looking cool. And you know what the best part of this post is? That applicant who wrote a great sentence.

70 replies
  1. Jeff Yablon
    Jeff Yablon says:

    Fun as always Penelope. And you’re right about all the things … except the commute thing.

    Yes, if the point is “you’re an easy commute for ME”, it’s stupid. But if the point is “I can be in your office in 10 minutes any time you need me to, it’s an actual benefit to YOU.

    I happy to live withing about one minute of the 86th street express subway on the East Side If I told someone in Silicon Alley that I can get to Union Square in 15 minutes, that’s a real win for them.

    Jusy sayin’

    • Chris White
      Chris White says:

      I came to the site from my feed reader to say the same thing, more or less.

      I literally didn’t hire someone who I believe was probably the most qualified candidate for a position I had to fill recently, solely on his address being an easy hour commute each way.

      I do about that long of a commute and I hate it. I start enough work days in a way more negative state of mind and the same is true of my evenings because of it, and decided no matter how good he is I would rather not hire I guy I know is going to be at least a little miserable at least some of the time because of an overlong commute.

  2. Ann Eichenberger
    Ann Eichenberger says:

    Everlane makes cool clothes at amazing prices. However, their size Large is actually a normal size 8-10. Such sizing targets a very narrow niche.
    But what it really says that it only wants to sell to thin women. I find this marketing strategy offensive and, in my opinion, your alignment with this company diminishes the esteem in which I have long held you and your blog.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m a 10. So their clothes would be great for me. Well I’m a 10 unless I have PMS, and then I’m a 12.

      Actually, I’m borderline 10/12 so I know all the companies that size like Everlane because I have to be careful what I buy there:

      Forever 21
      For All Mankind
      American Apparel
      Club Monaco

      The list is huge, now that I think about it. So look, if you don’t fit in the company’s clothes, don’t wear them.

      And duh – everyone wants to be associated with thin people. Not just clothing companies. Do you see fat people in Kinkos commercials?


      • Crystal
        Crystal says:

        “So look, if you don’t fit in the company’s clothes, don’t wear them.” — DUH

        So look, Ann, if you don’t like how this blogger turns into “mean girl” at her reader’s expense, don’t read her blog. She is in the unique position to write mean things all day long, if she chooses. This will likely not affect her bottom line, for decades.

          • Chris Black
            Chris Black says:

            Having issues with marketing most likely is a thing that size 10 women do sometimes. So if she prefers to be called a medium so strongly that she is writing about it online that might be her issue. Or she doesn’t fit in their clothes. Either way, it’s her issue and I wish her well in finding a way to move past it.

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            Actually I don’t think this is not about being called any specific size – it was more a comment about the very limited size range in the clothing lines of several companies. The problem is more along the lines that the styles change so massively between the shops selling the size 2-8 clothes compared to the ones catering to what is actually in the US the average woman with a size 12 or 14. And it is actually not the size label per se – it is often that the clothes are simply too short for women who are taller. Size 10 does not mean someone is or feels “fat” it is simply about the length of the sleeves, or the pant leg, or that the sweater is perpetually too short despite an excellent fit in the shoulder area. It is poor fit in the shoulders and a good fit in the bust area which can force you to buy larger sizes.

            So, yes, these companies do subscribe to a certain idea of their customer. It is the assumption that thin people are automatically hipper, cooler, more energetic, more healthy, and above all, more beautiful. I think we all know that this is not the case – few people would call size 2 model at 5’11” beautiful and healthy and it is an “ideal shape” few can support while retaining moderately healthy eating habits. Each body is different in proportions (which is part of the beauty of humans and makes like infinitely interesting) – and thus the perpetual pitching of the one ideal thinness is also kind of sad. I am with Karelys here – it is good if you know at least a few basics in sewing and alterations (not difficult at all). Since I started knitting my own sweaters and cardigans which fit so perfectly I find myself nearly unable to actually buy a sweater – knitting one yourself you can add these nice things like an extra pocket, or a luxurious yarn you would not be able to afford in a store sweater.

      • C.A. Lewis-McCarren
        C.A. Lewis-McCarren says:

        The last thing you wrote about being associated with “fat” people…..wow. That just totally undermined what you teach on here Penelope. That EVERYONE has value and we should strive to utilize it where it works best I.e., jobs, careers, passions….etc.

        I happen to know what it is like to be “fat”. I also happen to know that it doesn’t help anyone trying to make changes in their life to be so mean and humiliate them because they have some sort of societal “deficiency”. People are people and you have to meet them where they are at TODAY. I am surprised at your comment because it shows such a lack of character – especially from someone as passionate as you are and your experience with not fitting in.

        You took Kate in and showed us her transformation with new clothes and a haircut. What if she arrived at your doorstep 100lbs overweight? Would you of slammed the door in her face because you assumed her weight made her less of a person? Less worthy of being your project? Less media value to you?

        To be fair – I don’t truly believe it WOULD have made a difference to you, I don’t think you have it in you to be so cruel…..but please Penelope, give us pleasantly plump people some credit – maybe we just have so much we are trying to manage already (because the world already thinks we equal LESS value because we have MORE fat) trying to over compensate in areas to make ourselves accepted that we don’t have the time or energy to put into being transformation superstars.
        As far as the clothes, yea they are great and the company is pretty cool. I get the business and how they market. It is too bad though that I don’t measure down to the required body size to be a part of the “cool” club. I’ll just be cool in the “pretty face, too bad she is fat club” and the “fat equals lazy and disqualified” club.

      • Kelly
        Kelly says:


        I liked your voice, point of view, and was considering requesting your coaching assistance and the INFP bootcamp. After reading this response, I am plus size and body positive but now wonder if you work with people outside of the median body size…

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      When I hear people’s problems I want to fix things right away not commiserate.

      So if a solution is what you’re looking for I’d offer this: reclaim the word fat. Take away the negative connotation. If you must wear size 16 jeans so what?
      Look at the world objectively and pick and choose your labels to your benefit. Take the sting out of everything you can.
      If Everlane doesn’t want your money why care? because you bought into the notion that fat should be offensive.

      Or if that is too much work, lose weight to fit their sizes.

      There are quite a few companies making bank on the hurt feelings of women who have been relegated out of cute clothes because of their sizes. They’re expensive but they make you feel included.

      I have always just shopped thrift stores and adjusted my clothes at home. I just assumed that everything I buy I must taylor so it looks just right. And viola! you look good in cheap clothes.

      • Elizabeth
        Elizabeth says:

        I’m somewhere around a 6 or even a 4(?!) in US clothes, and am the same weight as 20 years ago (back then I was an 8).
        In the UK and Australia I’m a 10 or 12.
        In Vietnam I’m an XXXL.
        In China, an M or L or XL, depending on the manufacturer.
        You are yourself, no matter what you wear.

    • Jennifa
      Jennifa says:

      Ann, I just had to respond in case you have bad feelings. Don’t have bad feelings, you can not hold P. in high esteem and still thoroughly enjoy and learn from the blog. I would recommend still reading it. Your esteem-o-meter may find new settings.

      So I had to click on Everlane….yawn! It looks ALL they sell is skinny, like they literally put skinny in a box and mail it. I never knew you could do that, but they figured out how.

    • Juan Restrepo
      Juan Restrepo says:

      I am sorry but if you are so offended by the concept of vanity sizing, I think you may need to check your own vanity out the door.

  3. Adam Gordon
    Adam Gordon says:

    I had a thought while reading this. I wonder wow many of your readers live vicariously through you and Melissa? In a the-grass-is-always-greener way.

    And then I realized that the majority of your blog posts are about finding happiness and satisfaction in one’s life and how that the living vicariously thought runs completely counter to the points you try to make in your blog.

  4. Lex
    Lex says:

    I follow a blog that typically offers the exact opposite advice from what you suggest in most cases, related to jobs, careers, resumes, etc. Notably, the commute comment was featured in a “best cover letter ever” example on the other blog, which makes me chuckle because yes, lots of people are likely copying it.
    I’m a makeup whore and cannot wait to see what you come up with!
    I bet the creative applicant has an amazing twitter feed too.

    • gingerR
      gingerR says:

      I can understand why the easy commute letter would be a dud, but in my experience people who have long commutes either want to work at home a lot or they shortchange work when things get bad on the roads.

      If I had two applicants of equal qualification I’d give the person who was close to work preference.

  5. Amy Jo Lauber
    Amy Jo Lauber says:

    Your blog posts are the only thing that makes me put down my cashew shrimp.
    I’m loving your love of that applicant’s punctuation and her response is indeed brilliant.

  6. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    Read Education blog first, then career blog.

    I too was feeling pity for my age 10 self! And then I read that exact sentence in the career blog. So weird.

  7. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    Makeup is hard to choose online because you don’t feel it, smell it, no one cleans your face and gives you a makeover to convince you to overpay for it.

    I hate the idea of buying clothing online but businesses are wising up and making it ever easier to send items back and forth for you to try at home, prance around in those jeans to see if they’re comfortable and don’t highlight the muffin top when you sit down. You get to walk around in the shoes and get to see how well they fit in your own mirror that you love because the length is just right and the lighting lies just enough to make you feel good about yourself. So what if I don’t have abs? I have amazing cheekbones in my bathroom mirror.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Karelys, I’m so excited to read your commnent because our research shows that Gen Y loves buying makeup online, but Gen Z wants to go to the store. And I am not totally sure about your age, but I’m pretty sure you are at the intersection of those two generations. I should print out this comment for our pitch deck :)


  8. Peter Degen-Portnoy
    Peter Degen-Portnoy says:

    Hi P;

    Regarding keeping the family away from porn, I have a suggestion for the solution we use at Hof Quatchsmacher (our house). I’ve configured my router (the part that connects out to the Internet Service Provider) to use opendns.org for the Domain Name Servers (DNS). It is very easy to configure defaults — no porn sites, adult chat, etc.

    Oh, and it’s Free.

    All the best,


  9. brooklynchick
    brooklynchick says:

    I am a recruiter and I read SO MANY bad cover letters.
    #1 mistake- it’s not personalized. Come on, that takes five minutes, tops. If it’s not customized to the job it’s getting deleted.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for weighing in as a recruiter. I think that when people write a cover letter they forget that a real person is taking their time to read the letter, and if it sounds like a robot wrote the letter it’s insulting to the person who is taking time to read it.


  10. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    I managed a team at this company where every time I had an opening I got a resume from this one guy. Resume was in line with the job. First two times I called him for a phone screen I asked why he was interested in this job. “Because it’s one mile from my home.” No other reason — just wanted a shorter commute. What I can’t believe is that I called him the second time.

    Same company, we got a resume for an open programming position that included a cover letter where this guy went off on a huge rant about what a programming prodigy he was, complete with entire sentences in all caps. That cover letter made its way all through the entire management team and we all had a great laugh.

    I quit writing cover letters two jobs ago when I realized that for the positions I hire, I never read them and I don’t notice it when a candidate doesn’t submit one. I scan the resume for qualifications and experience, and do a phone screen. The phone screen is pivotal and tells me more than a cover letter ever could.

    • Brad
      Brad says:

      I agree, a cover letter can only hurt you. It never really helps. Some people seem to think their cover letter is like a blaring TV ad – good or bad doesn’t matter as long it gets you noticed.

      • Jeff Yablon
        Jeff Yablon says:

        THAT I’m afraid I have to disagree with.

        If the cover letters are actually getting read (i.e., in a smaller or more personal environment; not a big corporate HR-who-don’t-really-care space), the cover letter is a chance to differentiate yourself.

        Wait, I just described a Nirvana that doesn’t much exist any more. Never mind.

        (bonus points for anyone who sees what I just did there … it’s like a grungy cover letter!)

  11. Cascadia
    Cascadia says:

    I’ve been involved in hiring at my work for several years, and quite a few times I’ve heard, “We can’t hire X, they live too far away. They won’t stay at the job long if they have a long commute.”

  12. Jane
    Jane says:

    You’re awesome. I love your posts. But it drives me crazy that I can’t read them on my mobile. Is it just me or are your blogs not formatted for mobile web?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I use my phone to navigate my site all the time, and it’s not perfect, but I can definitely read it okay. Is anyone else having the trouble that Jane is having? I don’t want my site to suck on mobile.


      • Adam Gordon
        Adam Gordon says:

        Looks fine on an iPhone 6 in Chrome. Mobile dev is very tough – there’s a lot of devices out there. See if you can get what phone Jane is using. Chrome has dev tools for testing layouts/views on phones. Taking a quick look at your source, I don’t see media specific CSS which makes me think WordPress may be handling it.

  13. Jillian
    Jillian says:

    I just left my job today because the commute was killing me and I can’t do it any more! It took me 2 hours to get home the other evening and I’m separated with a 4 year old kid, so I arrive home exhausted and late, then we are both grumpy the next morning because we didn’t get to bed early enough.. I just can’t do it! I recently did my Myers-Briggs profile on Quistic and can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I’m an ENFP, so working 9-5 for someone else was never going to work for me and I was miserable. I’m great at getting jobs,so I must write good cover letters!I usually state the benefits of hiring me FOR THE COMPANY. Once I get the jobs though, I hate them, I’m like a round peg in a square hole and want to leave after a few weeks.

    I’m taking inspiration from Penelope so I’ve decided to create my own job as I can’t find one I like, so I’m setting up as a social media freelancer and hope to write content too. The flexibility will work for my personality type as too much structure is really bad for me as I am quite spontaneous. I never want to write a cover letter ever again!!!

    • Kaneesha
      Kaneesha says:

      I’ve never, ever replied to anything, but you sound just like me! Except I got laid off and I am an INFP. OMG I hate cubicles!! Office life made me into the most unhappy person. I felt like I was killing my future self every day I walked in. I am self-employed now too! Except I don’t know how I’m going to make money. Doesn’t matter too much right now, b/c I’m never going back into a cube farm.
      Anyway, all that to say good luck to you!!

      • Jill
        Jill says:

        Kaneesha, I’m sure you will find a way. I have been out of work before and filled with dread and worry etc.. but this time I have a bit more faith in myself for some odd reason. It’s very hard to go off the beaten path, and yet it seems to work for so many people. I ended up thinking there was something wrong with me as it made me so miserable. I have been thinking for a while ” there has to be a better way” so hopefully this will work for me. Thank you SO MUCH for replying to my comment. I’m really happy to know there are people like me out there! Good luck and have faith in yourself!

        • Kaneesha
          Kaneesha says:

          Thank you too! It’s scary, but not worse than hating your life day in and day out for a paycheck! NFPers unite! Lol

      • Joanne
        Joanne says:

        Another INFP here. I was actually fired from my last job and although it’s been tough, I’m actually relieved. I dislike the whole corporate, cubicle environment but felt like I really didn’t have a lot of choice. I’ve been studying web design for the last year or so and am looking to transition into that. Hopefully I can work my way out of the cubicle farm.

        • Kaneesha
          Kaneesha says:

          I believe 100% you will be fine. There’s so much abundance in this world that once you learn how to tap into it, you’ll wonder how you ever felt you had no other choice. That’s where I am now. If I have to go back into a cubicle I will kill my soul, and who wants that? Web design is an awesome field..good luck to you!

  14. Mary
    Mary says:

    And here I was wondering if anyone actually read cover letters… I’ve been job hunting and revising cover letter after cover letter according to the requirements, but I felt like they my letters were just being ignored. I noticed companies like Google don’t’ even ask for cover letters anymore.

    I was wondering–what’s the best way to write the opening of a cover letter? I try to adhere to the standard, like “I’m excited about this position,” which usually ends up being very dry and lackluster. I worry this will scare away reader interest. Should I write something totally off the wall and atypical, or will that work against me? What kind of cover letters draw Melissa’s interest?

    Also, when is a cover letter *too* long?

  15. Susan
    Susan says:

    I was freelancing for a company for 2 weeks as a video editor when they asked me to find them a new receptionist (long story). I had cover letters from people who talked about how miserable they were at work and how working in the entertainment field would make them happy. It felt weird.

    My experience with cover letters/resumes is the opposite of what you’re describing. Maybe it’s because I work as a writer/social media consultant so I’m looking for contract and freelance work anyway. But I rarely even get asked for a resume and my cover letters and a unique subject heading have a super high conversion rate.

    I’ve had multiple employers say they hired me based on my cover letter.

    Also. I’m jealous, of Melissa.

  16. Logan
    Logan says:

    This post made me LOL! I like the idea that Melissa chose a Shakespearian gender bender Viola type character as the favourite candidate.

    I do think though having a George Sand persona might be more effective in a society that glamourises men in the corporate world despite the fact that femininity is a strength of its own and shouldn’t be hidden.

  17. through my autistic eyes
    through my autistic eyes says:

    I just throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and sandals. But for a job interview you have to dress up better. No makeup because it irritates me when it touches my skin.

    Supervising what your son reads on the internet is a very good idea. You don’t know what kids watch on the net nowadays, and what kind of people they talk to, like predatory grownups who pretend to be kids…

    Sounds like you’re living the good life in a nice New York hotel, although the noise and crowds might be enough to drive me crazy. I hate huge cities.

    By the way, this is the first time I hear someone does ‘facelift’ to a knee.

  18. Katybeth
    Katybeth says:

    And now we all clicked over to Everlane which should confirm you are an influencer. The cotton T’s are great. The sizing is tricky.
    I have perfect sentence envy all the time.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      Personal opinion: Joanna at A Cup of Jo blog does the best job making you want to buy Everlane. But then again she is theee target market for that company.
      She is pretty much an Everlane billboard (ha) come alive.

  19. lynndrc@comcast.net
    lynndrc@comcast.net says:

    Who else would you write about on your own tombstone? I think you gave the comma use undue credit! Unless you were being cheeky and I’m too world-weary to catch the humor.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      dem bastards! of course ;)

      I’d say something like … I don’t know. Something about people. And how annoying they were to me. Except when not.

  20. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I have a recommendation for Everlane after doing a cursory review of their web site. They are strictly an online company. Therefore all their communication with their customers are being done online. However, their online presence and contact information (via email, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook) is found in small print at the very bottom of their home page and other main pages. No customer or potential customer wants to hunt for contact information. Therefore I would recommend to them that their contact information to be readily available/easily visible at the top or very near the top of their web pages. Also I want to note that they appear to do customer service well based on what I observed on their social media sites.

  21. C.A. Lewis-McCarren
    C.A. Lewis-McCarren says:

    Knee skin issue: Virgin Coconut Oil (NOT refined) and a skin brush. Brush your skin at least 3x a week BEFORE a shower (you should be doing this anyway because you live in a cold climate) and after your shower, soothe on the coconut oil. Everywhere. NOTE: Virgin coconut oil melts at 76 degrees, so a little goes a long way. It will absorb at a slower rate than “lotion”, but it has excellent healing and restorative qualities. Bonus: It isn’t as expensive as Everlane clothes and a jar will last you a good long time.

    Cheryl’s Tip’o the Day! :)

  22. Erica Breuer
    Erica Breuer says:

    Love this! So much truth (and ha-ha “ah-has”).

    Face lift for the knees? How about a tummy tuck for strange saggy armpits … not mine, a friend’s. Er, um, yeah.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      you’re funny! while everyone is getting up in arms that P stated the obvious (people want to be associated with thin people, appearance matters more than we want to admit or want it to matter), you’re just joining in the fun and rolling with it.

  23. malaika
    malaika says:

    I’ve used your cover letter advice to the tee and been very successful with applications ever since.

    what I found when hiring a consultant…
    sending a CV in French when the posting is in English (?!?)
    asking if I can postpone the deadline until next year (?!)

  24. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    I just wanted to add my cover letter peeve: when they don’t address anything in the job description. The description is like a freebie list of things you should highlight, and so many people don’t!

  25. Maria G
    Maria G says:

    Penelope, your blog is so fun, interesting and inspiring to read! I dont write cover letters anymore. I make contacts with headhunters firts, if I like a job I see in the web (where no headhunter is involved) I just send my CV. They know if you are an interesting profile for thejob after 2 minutes reading your CV. That is how it works for myself when I am hiring. I would only considering a cover letter, if there is no way I can have a telephone-contact with the hiring company or a heandhunter AND if I am really dying to say something that will help me land the job and I cannot write in my CV. Most of the time, I try to pack whatever I am dying to say in my CV. So far, it has worked!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is really smart. The best cover letters are able to create some sort of personal feeling about the applicant. But in fact, phone calls are much better for creating that feelings, and as a bonus you can, indeed, skip the cover letter.


  26. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Ugh, Everlane sucks.

    I mean, get all the sponsorship money from them, sure. Get some free clothes. But take pictures of the stuff before you put it in the wash the first time and it comes out ruined.

    But don’t buy their clothes and don’t fall for their dumb fashion industry disruption. It’s not disruptive to sell factory made clothing at wholesale prices. It just means they can’t ever sell their clothes in a brick and mortar location without drastically lowering quality.

    In any case, they are definitely not selling luxury basics at affordable prices. The fit and style is basically the same sh** you can get at Lands’ End.

  27. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    “She wanted to learn, everything.”

    What??? Gorgeous punctuation? A very deliberate, all-caps HOW SO?

    A bridge too far, Ms. Trunk. Too. Far.


  28. Kameel Vohra
    Kameel Vohra says:

    I’ve ignored cover letters that look too obviously like they’re from a standard word template. If someone”s attaching a cover letter, I’d prefer they take the time to personalize it – else I prefer they’d skip it and let their CV do the talking.

    It can be hard to convey a sense of culture or personality, but that’s what I look for when I’m reading a cover letter. I want to gauge if the candidate has the right level of weirdness to match the team.

  29. Shaquille Telford
    Shaquille Telford says:

    It’s my first time on this blog, and after reading the first few paragraphs, I thought that I was on the wrong article lol. I really enjoy the way you write Penelope, and as a broke college grad, I now know how to improve my cover letters. So, thanks for that.

  30. Grammar Nerd
    Grammar Nerd says:

    “She wanted to learn, everything.”

    That’s a comma splice. It’s a semi-colon, an em dash, or a period, but not a comma.

    Gorgeous punctuation, my ass.

  31. Saskia C
    Saskia C says:

    This post really made me laugh. I agree with what one of the other readers said, distance does matter, however it should not be used as a selling point! I used to work for a recruitment agency and I remember hiring for a temp position where the employer would only consider candidates within a certain distance. If your office is difficult to get to, then it makes sense to hire candidates that can easily get to the location. But yes, not something to write on your covering letter…

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