Job applications

Adding Personality To Your Cover Letters, Part 1: Know Your Audience (And How Do Mullets Figure In?)

Me & My BrotherWhy is a mullet pictured here?

In the ebook, I talk a lot about writing a letter with personality, and about fitting your letter to its intended audience. If you’re funny, and you’re applying for a job at a startup, it’s OK to be funny in your letter. (If you really are funny, that is.) If you’re applying at The New York Times, you probably want to be a little more sedate.

But sometimes, the front the company projects isn’t at all how the company culture actually is. Plenty of places that produce serious work have crazy office cultures. They present a business front to the world, but inside the company is all party.

So what to do? Turns out you can get a pretty good idea for the tone your letter should strike by reading the job ad. Take Funny place, right? Check out the site’s ad for a marketing intern*:

Marketing Intern

Are you a fan of and interested in experiencing what it’s like to be part of the CH marketing team? Cool story, bro. But seriously, we are looking for someone resourceful, organized, focused and driven, who spends way too much time on the web, so that they can spend even more time on the web. Are you this awesome person?

As a Marketing Intern, you will learn about all of the behind-the-scenes work that keeps thriving and successful. Generally speaking, you will:

Learn how to use Google Analytics and other web analytics tools to compile and trend site performance
Brainstorm creative new ways to attract a larger audience through display, text ad, email, and social campaigns
Learn how to syndicate original content to secondary content portals
Become (re)acquainted with the lingo and protocol of the interwebz
Learn how to promote individual pieces of content
Apply what you’ve learned in your courses to actual Sales and Marketing group’s operations
Get insight into trends and developments in online media and technology at large
Candidates should be very detail oriented and have an interest in media and entertainment, and have a pretty thorough understanding of tech, pop and nerdy internet cultures. Extra points if you’ve ever had to use the internet to promote something. Please include the exact days and times you are available. This is an unpaid internship and you must be eligible for school credit, and able to commit 3+ days a week.

Please email your cover letter and resume to quay [at ]

This isn’t your typical job ad, but it’s also not that out there.

This says that while’s front end is home to some of the funniest content on the Web (I admit it, I’ve spent too much time on their ridiculous videos), the site is all business in the back. Kind of like a reverse mullet I guess. (Pictured: a regular mullet.)

When you write your cover letter, are you going to spend three paragraphs dropping the latest memes? Are you going to stick clipart on your resume? Nooooo. The language in the ad is pretty sedate, so while they’ve signaled it’s OK to say “interwebz,” you shouldn’t go overboard. Play it straight.

In Part 2, we’ll dissect a cover letter whose writer didn’t understand about mullets. #Fail, unfortunately.

*By the way, this is, as far as we can tell, a legit, currently-open ad, so apply away.