I read an interesting article this morning by Nicholas Carlson at the Business Insider about Tristan Walker, a Stanford MBA student who sent a letter (eight letters, actually) to the founders of FourSquare to ask for a job. Ultimately, he got the job and is now their Vice President of Business Development. He didn’t use a boiler plate cover letter like so many job seekers do, showing why it makes sense to break the traditional mold of a one-size-fits-all approach to cover letter writing.
Here’s the letter:
Hey Dennis and Naveen,
How’s it going? Hope all is well!
My name is Tristan Walker and Im a first year student (going into my
second year) at Stanford Business School (originally from New York).
Im a huge fan of what you both have built and excited about what you
guys have planned for FourSquare. It is an awesome , awesome service.
I would love to chat with you guys at some point, if you’re available,
about FourSquare. This year, I’m looking to help out and work
extremely hard for a startup with guys I can learn a ton from. Dennis,
with your experience at Google and the Dodgeball product, and Naveen,
with your experience at Sun and engineering in general, I know I could
learn a great deal from you both!
Before business school, I was an oil trader on Wall Street for about
two years and hated it! Moved out to the Bay/Stanford to pursue my
passion for entrepreneurship and the startup world. This past spring I
had the opportunity to work for Twitter as an intern and learned a
ton. Solidified my commitment to working at a startup that I’m
passionate about, and FourSquare is one of those startups that I
I know you guys are probably getting inundated with internship-type
requests, but thought it’d be worth a shot! I can assure you Im humble
and Im hungry! Let me know if you’d be interested in chatting further.
I definitely look forward to hearing from you.
Obviously, Tristan’s a smart guy who would be a viable candidate for any job under the sun, but he did several of the key things that we preach to clients regarding the cover letter:
- He knew his audience and tailored his message accordingly, stating why his background at Twitter would be a great fit at a start-up like FourSquare
- He demonstrated his passion for working in a start-up culture and that he believed in FourSquare’s product.
- He positioned himself as someone who was willing to learn and grow within the company, acknowledging the founders’ own specific backgrounds as an opportunity to expand his skill set.
- He was persistent. It’s a fine line between persistent and annoying, but sometimes you do what you have to do to get noticed.
- And finally, he asked for the job.
We can’t all have a Stanford MBA, Wall Street experience, and an internship at Twitter, but we can follow Tristan’s example and find better ways to connect with prospective employers.