Jim Sweeney Cover Letter Examples

Is this the most modest job applicant in America? Wall Street bosses hail 'best ever' cover letter from student at 'average' university with 'no special skills' (although he forgot to mention he's a star athlete)

By Rachel Quigley

Published: 07:09 GMT, 16 January 2013 | Updated: 21:52 GMT, 16 January 2013

Humble: Matthew Ross was the consummate three-sports star at Placer High School and most recently wrote what is behind hailed as the best cover letter ever to Wall Street bosses

The finance student who penned what is being called the 'best cover letter ever' to Wall Street bosses asking for a summer internship appears to have hugely undersold himself when he told them: 'I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities.'

Because Matthew Ross, a 22-year-old undergrad at San Diego State University, has been revealed today as an ambitious high school sports star whose outstanding skills in baseball, basketball and football earned him almost heroic status at his high school in Auburn, Placer County.

Matthew's refreshingly sincere cover letter went viral yesterday after he sent an email to a broker at finance and investment company Duff and Phelps in New York, referring back to a chance meeting they had in a steak house two summers ago.

Rather than inflating his qualifications and bragging about his grades or past job experiences, the humble applicant simply stated his case and matter-of-factly asked for an internship.

He wrote: 'I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like SDSU to intern at Duff and Phelps, but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception.

'I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials...the truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you.'

He added that he would be happy just to 'fetch coffee, shine shoes or pick up laundry' and will work for 'next to nothing' just to be around professionals in the industry.

But far from having no special skills to speak of, Matt is a multi-talented sports star whose 'exploits on the athletic fields brought championships and stellar moments' to his high school, according to the Auburn Journal.

Not happy to excel in just one more sport, Matt was the consummate three-sport star at Placer High School before he graduated in 2009.

Scroll down to read the enlarged letter

Ingenious: The undergraduate finance student penned a refreshingly sincere cover letter this week asking for an internship at a boutique investment bank on Wall Street

Company: Matthew Ross is seeking a coveted summer internship at finance and investment firm Duff and Phelps in New York

He was the starting quarterback for two years and led the football team to the Sac-Joaquin Section championship game in his senior year. 

Big fan: Matthew's mother Lynell said her son is a great kid - smart and hard working

He was a starter on the basketball team for two years and his athleticism on the court was hailed as exceptional.

Matt was brought up to the varsity baseball team as a freshman and started for four years, with his final athletic moment coming when he was the winning pitcher in the section championship game against El Dorado, according to the Auburn Journal.

Despite the dazzling write-up in his local paper, even then Matt seemed to be self-deprecating about his skills and talents - despite coaches at the school raving about his leadership and character.

'I definitely enjoyed the camaraderie of each sport I played,' he said in an interview. 'I had a ton of fun just hanging out with all of my teammates. Also, every coach brought something different that I liked.'

He added that now he is studying finance at SDSU, he is taking academics 'more seriously'.

Athletic director at Placer High Mark Lee said of him in the same 2009 interview. 'There’s certain kids that you coach that really touch your heart. And Matt’s definitely one of them. We’ll really miss him next year.'

His mother Lynell Ross - a life coach and personal trainer - is another huge fan of Matthew, and told the MailOnline: 'Matt is a great kid, very smart and hard working, never afraid to put everything into everything he does.

'I am very lucky to be the mother of such two great smart kids. The letter sounds exactly like the type of thing Matt would write. He's great.'

And it appears that the 22-year-old's bold approach has paid off, reaffirming the old adage that honesty is indeed the best policy.

Ryan Bouley, a broker at Duff and Phelps, said if someone with Matthew's qualities were to come on board, he certainly would not be shining shoes and said he is just the type of person the company are looking for.

'His candor, humility and willingness to roll his sleeves up and work hard to get the job done are all qualities we think represent our firm.'

Mr Bouley said the company have been in talks with Matthew about a possible summer internship and are 'excited about the possibility of bringing him on board'.

All star: Matthew Ross was featured by his local newspaper for his excellence in high school football, basketball and baseball

Praise: The cover letter was sent around the bank and other Wall Street financial institutions

Nation-wide: The student may find himself inundated with calls today for job interviews or opportunities for internships

Interest: He might end up being more than just a lackey

The clear-eyed, candid letter instantly went viral, being forwarded to other investment firms, some as far as Houston, Texas.

Business Insider shared a list of promising replies, among them: ‘This might be the best letter I've ever received.’

The response to the letter has been overwhelmingly positive, with some recipients describing it as ‘hilarious but bold’ and ‘instant classic.'’

Without dropping names and boasting of his smarts, Matthew managed to pique the interest of the jaded finance community, which is likely going to land him an interview or two.

One of the recipients wrote: ‘I wouldn't be surprised if this guy gets at least a call from every bank out there.’


Matthew Ross' letter comes as a refreshing antithesis to survey results released last week showing that American students have an unprecedented level of self-infatuation.

Nine million people have taken the American Freshman Survey in the last 47 years, which asks students to rate themselves compared to their peers since 1966.

Psychologist Jean Twenge and her colleagues compiled the data and found that over the last four decades there's been a dramatic rise in the number of students who describe themselves as being 'above average' in the areas of academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability, and self-confidence.

But researchers found a disconnect between the student's opinions of themselves and actual ability.

While students are much more likely to call themselves gifted in writing abilities, objective test scores actually show that their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts.

Though they may work less, the number that said they had a drive to succeed rose sharply.

These young egotists can grow up to be depressed adults.

A 2006 study found that students suffer from 'ambition inflation' as their increased ambitions accompany increasingly unrealistic expectations.

'Since the 1960s and 1970s, when those expectations started to grow, there's been an increase in anxiety and depression,' Twenge said. 'There's going to be a lot more people who don't reach their goals.'

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Professional writers are often told to ‘show’ a scene through their writing rather than ‘tell’ about it. Readers are eager to envision characters in action, not just hear about what they did in a general way. The same advice holds for writing a job-search cover letter. Hiring managers want to bring into their organization men and women who can ‘show,’ not merely ‘tell’ what they are capable of. They are looking for the assurance that you not only can fill the vacancy but also contribute to the company in a significant way.

Do you know the KEY to cover letter success?

Cover Letter Example Text:

In my current position of Sales Manager at ABC Marketing Services, I trained new sales recruits, established monthly goals for the team, conducted sales reviews weekly, and exceeded standing sales records three months in a row.

Now that’s showing. The cover letter includes specific actions the hiring manager can see and point to when considering whether or not to invite the job seeker in for an interview.

Telling, on the other hand, looks like this: In my current sales position I’m involved in a variety of tasks related to selling company products.

Notice the lack of details, the limp wording, and the complacent tone. This type of writing does not inspire confidence. In fact, just the opposite. The reader will pitch this cover letter into the shredder faster than a brochure for a phony moneymaking scheme.

Hiring managers receive hundreds of cover letters each week. They leaf through them hoping to find a gold nugget in what is often a pile of rubble––cover letters that are bland and boring. Yours, however, could be the one that sparkles. And all it takes is a little extra time and attention on your part to achieve that status.

Make a list now of the specific actions you’ve taken over the course of your career, the nitty-gritty details that set you apart, that show your skills instead of just tell about them.

Did you put out an emotional fire among a team of workers when one member lost control of himself or herself? Have you come up with a way to increase the profit margin of the company you now work for? What did you do to make that happen? Perhaps you’ve stepped into leadership at a meeting that appeared to be stagnating due to differing opinions or strategies for fixing a recurring problem. Think about such things and then include them in your next cover letter.

It takes so little to be above average. Dare to dream that you can have the job your heart wants, the one you know is right for you and right for the company. Then put yourself out there on paper. You don’t have to blast your horn in order to be noticed—but it’s more than okay to toot it a little so the hiring manager will hear you, see you, and then call you in for an interview.

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