Jezen Thomas

Jezen Thomas

CTO & Co-Founder at Supercede. Haskell programmer. Writing about business and software engineering. Working from anywhere.

Kill on the Cover Letter, but Not Like That

A couple of years ago, I received the following email in response to a Haskell programming job I had advertised.

Life is cheap. I would kill someone for a Haskell job. Thanks for your consideration.

That was it. That was the entire email.

The applicant had attached their résumé to the email, and in fairness the résumé showed that this person would bring relevant and valuable experience to the team.

Now, I do love all sorts of humour, and I’m 99.9% certain that rather than being serious, this person was a little trigger happy with the hyperbole cannon.

But on the off chance that they were serious, how could I have it on my conscience that we ended up with a killer on the team even after they told me about it?! Could you imagine that tribunal?

I’m fortunate that when I do advertise a programming job on the internet, I’m inundated with strong applications. All of the best applications take the form of a brief couple of paragraphs in an email which describe why the applicant believes they’re a particularly good fit for the job. This is what I regard as the cover letter. The résumé should still be attached, but it’s the cover letter I’m reading first.

The cover letter sets the tone. It says “this is who I am, this is my understanding of what you’re looking for, and this is why I believe I’m the right choice.”

The cover letter is the perfect place to make the right introduction.

But, come on.

This ain’t it.