How to Get a Job: A Classic Cover Letter You’ll Never Forget

Editor’s Note: Weekly Wrap is on a well-needed summer vacation. It will return after Labor Day.

It’s a tough time for job seekers, especially for those who have been out of work for some time.

But, it’s not much fun for hiring managers and HR either. Even if you aren’t actively recruiting and looking for candidates, you’re probably flooded with resumes from all those out-of-work people looking to get back in the game. If you ARE looking for people, well, my apologies because you’re surely overwhelmed with desperate job seekers clawing to find any kind of paying gig.

It’s at times like these — when both job seekers and hiring professionals are at their wits end — that we step back and remember a job seeker who crafted probably the single greatest cover letter for a job ever. It comes from the late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and it reflects a simpler time when all it took was a heavy dose of attitude and some zippy writing to get your foot in the door of a new job.

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Before Monster, CareerBuilder, or LinkedIn, you had to actually write to a hiring manager and mail (by U.S. Postal) a resume and cover letter. Then you sat back and waited for a response. This cover letter by Hunter Thompson is a classic example of how you can wake up a hiring manager with some wit, verve and attitude. You may have seen it before, but here in the late days of summer with so many still out of work, it’s worth reading again.

Back in the days when men cowered away spinelessly in lives they hated, Hunter S. Thompson was defining what it meant to be a fearless man. The following is a letter Mr. Thompson wrote to the Vancouver Sun in effort to secure a journalism job at the newspaper in 1958. At that point he was still a young man living in a basement apartment in New York City with no money, lots of debt and a major drinking habit.

The Vancouver Sun has given us his brilliant application letter, one of hundreds of his letters included in a book called The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman,1955-1967.

Here’s the letter. And take note all ye job searchers out there. This may be what you need to do, now that you have nothing else to lose.”

For Hunter S. Thompson’s classic cover letter, click here.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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1 Comment on “How to Get a Job: A Classic Cover Letter You’ll Never Forget

  1. Ah yes – but he didn’t get the job, as far as I know 🙂  Did the Sun weed itself out as not living up to his standard?  Or did they weed Hunter out as, well, hmmm.  Still, what a fun letter.  I’m amazed it was kept loing enough for someone to realize the writer had become a famous personality!

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