G is for gimmick

A reader writes:

One of my recent ex co-workers asked me to review their cover letter. They used a gimmicky style where they used their name to highlight traits. An example would be “Don: D-Dedicated, O-On top of things, N-Never give up.”

They are applying to a professional accounting firm. Is this professional? I know that as accountants everyone is always looking for personality, but is this a good way to approach it?

What? Christ, no. If I got that cover letter, I would assume it was from a 12-year-old.

{ 23 comments… read them below }

  1. De Minimis

    Terrible idea—I have worked in accounting for a major firm and helped out with recruiting. Such a cover letter would probably be thrown in the trash, even if the candidate looked good otherwise.
    I guarantee people would think something like, “What if the candidate did something like that in their communications with a client or when representing us to others?”

    The time to stand out [in a good way] and show that you have a personality is when you meet with people in person. Cover letters and resumes are all about a professional presentation.

    The funny thing is, we actually did the using letters of your name to spell out traits during training, but as an icebreaker, after we’d already gotten the job!

  2. JT

    It’s not even a clever gimmick. Some time ago I drafted remarks for one person to introduce another at a large event. The remarks were quite good IMHO – highlighting why the person being introduced was noteworthy, while tying it to the interests of the speaker and the audience. The speaker didn’t like it and went with spelling out the other person’s name with adjectives for each letter. Now, gimmicks are a little more appropriate at events than in a cover letter, but it still fell flat. It’s just not clever.

  3. Anonymous

    I agree with everything previously said so all I’m going to add is that I laughed out loud (very loudly). I think I remember doing some sort of project like that in elementary school!

  4. anon

    “What? Christ, no” had me laughing out loud. Thanks for a funny start to a sloooow Tuesday morning.

    1. Kelly

      +3 Yes! The “Christ” comment had me rolling! Too funny! I could “see” the expression on your face as you typed that! Awesome!

  5. Jamie

    “What? Christ, no. If I got that cover letter, I would assume it was from a 12-year-old.”

    I would have assumed the writer was taking business advice from watching Dwight Shrute.
    Determined
    Worker
    Intense
    Good worker
    Hard worker
    Terrific

    1. Danielle

      Somehow, I never noticed he had spelled out his name with that line until you guys pointed it out. Now it’s even funnier!

  6. From Michigan

    I laughed at the question and harder at the answer!

    Kudos on tying in this question with the Sue Grafton question. Well played. Bring on the literary plot lines!

  7. Jamie

    Am I the only one bothered by the phrasing?

    “Don: D-Dedicated, O-On top of things, N-Never give up”

    The first two sentiments are referring to himself, the second is more generally inspirational (like the “Hang in There” kitty of poster fame).

    It should have been “Never gives up” – to keep it in the same context. Still stupid – but I prefer stupidity to be applied consistently.

  8. Anonymous

    Or a teacher. Honest to god, every single employee appreciation day (don’t ask!) that I have ever been to has one of these. Yes, I’m in education. Teachers seem to love it.

  9. JT

    The only people who can pull this off are rappers auditioning to be rappers:

    “People always ask me D M C what does it mean?
    D’s for never dirty,
    MC’s for mostly clean!”

  10. Anonymous

    All that would do is cause me to develop an inappropriate drinking game where I would challenge my friends to come up with alternative adjectives to spell out Don: Dork – Oaf – Nutjob.

  11. Anonymous

    I once reviewed a cover letter where the applicant referred to himself as a “man-child”, and then gave a personal narrative from his childhood. That was it. No mention of the position, or his qualifications for it.
    My guess is either 1) Someone encouraged him to go with a gimmick to get his resume noticed or 2) He accidentally attached a school essay instead of his intended professional cover letter. Either way, the application ended up in the “No” pile, after a great deal of giggling. No gimmicks!!

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