Self-Promotional Cover Letter: How Much Is Too Much?

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Cottle 6 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #152712

    A business student at NYU is the talk of Wall Street for this cover letter, posted at

    It is very funny. Highlight: “I…can perform basic office functions with terrifying efficiency.”(emphasis added)

    Now the letter has gone viral with prospective employers forwarding it all over town “LOL” (see email chain here).

    Yet Business Insider says that the student’s self-confidence has won some commenters over.

    So when it comes to promoting yourself via cover letter – how much is too much?

  • #152730

    Steve Cottle

    One of the most helpful tips I’ve heard about cover letters was that employers don’t want to hear about you – they want to hear about what you can do for THEM. Keeping this in mind has always helped me phrase things in a way that applies to the employer and allows me to cut down on a lot of the “I do this, I do that.”

    It only helps so much, though. Not sure how much better “I will perform office functions for your organization with terrifying efficiency” sounds 🙂

  • #152728

    Henry Brown

    NOT sure there can be too much in a cover letter! However, what one does NOT want to do is come across as someone full of hot air … Would suggest that having some knowledge regarding the posistion and doing a positive “shout out” of what you can do for them, in most cases can only help…. What does not work is the positition is for something that has little or nothing to do with the performance of basic office functions and your cover letter goes on about how well you can do said task…

  • #152726

    Jaime Gracia

    Also discussing that your bench press went up X% is probably also not a good thing. If your efforts resulted in an X% increase in sales, market share, or efficiency, then that is something else. Demonstrate how you add value to that organization, and focus on that.

  • #152724

    Corey McCarren

    That is the most awesome cover letter I have ever seen and I envy its author. The self-promotion is absolutely over the top, but it’s to such a level that I think if I were reading it I would have to give that guy an interview. I recommend reading the entire thing via that link. It’s great.

  • #152722

    Amelia Brunelle

    interesting that you assume it’s a guy

  • #152720

    what an interesting comment Amelia. It is a guy who wrote it, but I would agree that men are stereotypically expected to be self-promotional vs. women self-effacing and group-oriented. Do you agree? If so do you think times are changing?

  • #152718

    Amelia Brunelle

    I just find assumptions we all make (I also assumed it was a man in my head) worth noting. I certainly do not care to be this over-confident, nor appreciate those who are, no matter their gender. But I do hope times are changing. These types of expectations make coming into a new position more difficult. When people have a way they expect you to be, if you don’t’ fill it, there is automatic dislike or frustration. If we all could assume less about someone based solely on their gender (and perhaps more on how they write their cover letters) the job search and new work environment would be less treacherous.

  • #152716

    Corey McCarren

    I appreciate you calling me out on that. I definitely did assume it was a guy and you are right, it’s never good to make assumptions. I began to assume it was a guy after it was mentioned that he can now bench “double his body weight”. There are plenty of women out there who can do that, and it definitely isn’t inherent in males. Lemme tell ya’, I’m not benching double my body weight any time soon!

    I do concede that I likely would have made that assumption regardless. I’m very much against the way we socialize gender roles beginning when people are children (toys are a great example), and its so pervasive that I often see it in myself, as you’ve pointed out.

  • #152714

    Faith Abiodun

    This is a question I’ve asked myself a number of times. You don’t want to undersell yourself and you don’t want to be ‘full of hot air’ as Henry said. But if you genuinely have a number of experiences that are closely related to the job you’re applying for, how much of that can you include in your cover letter? How many paragraphs is too long?

    By the way, I was assuming that the writer was female.

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