Monday, February 13, 2012

I'd rather be a #hotmess than a bad leader

Last week, you may have heard about the NYU student whose cover letter to JP Morgan boasted about his relentless work ethic, exceptional GPA, ability to bench press double his body weight, and the completion of 35 pull ups all in the hopes of persuading his prospective employer to consider him for a summer internship.  Sounds like a total #hotmess, right?

Well, this letter has since gone viral and this student has all of Wall Street laughing at him, not with him.  The kid author may need a class or two about best practices in cover letter writing, but the actions of the receiving director are nothing short of appalling and he should seriously be investigated for gross misconduct for violating an applicant's privacy.

Since Thursday, February 2, when a Bank of America Merrill Lynch director forwarded the cover letter out to his entire team, 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. 
Already investment banking and accounting teams at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Citi, Deutsche Bank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Wells Fargo, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Perella Weinberg Partners, and Barclays Capital have read the note, along with the student's relatively robust resume.

Three lessons we can all learn from this situation.

1.  Assume anything you write in an email will be forwarded or read by anyone and everyone.  This should not be news, but somehow we all seem to forget.

2.  This is EXACTLY how NOT to be a leader.  You don't motivate your team at the expense of putting down others.   Bad. Bad. Bad.

3.  As an applicant, beware if you are reaching out to hiring managers directly in addition to applying via the online HR process.  You run the risk of your email with your resume being forwarded onto others and your privacy cannot be guaranteed.  

Cheryl Reynolds
College Girl to Working Girl

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