Funny is Great To a Point

Too Clever By Half

A cover letter should demonstrate your enthusiasm, self-knowledge and personality.  Unless you’re applying for a position as a stand-up comedian, however, don’t overdo the humor.  The appropriate use of humor, and a convivial, professional tone can break the ice and engage the hiring manager – but the inappropriate, offensive or even unintentional use of humor can be the death knell for your job search. Sometimes doing something as simple as using a well-done, original cover letter template can be a good way to strike the right balance.

A cover letter with a joke that makes fun of the potential employer, for instance, or makes damaging suggestions about the business, can quickly send your resume to the waste basket.  For example, it’s not advisable to toss off a remark like; “I noticed in the news that you are downsizing – Lucky for me!” in your cover letter.  While you may find your comments clever, your potential employer will probably not appreciate your quick whit turned toward them.

Even a funny comment directed toward yourself may come off a bit “snarky.”  The following are some actual examples that have appeared in cover letters for applicants of an engineering firm:

“I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”


“References: None. I’ve left a path of destruction behind me.”

Funny? Yes. Smart? You be the judge, but being too cute usually backfires.

Potentially worse than inappropriate jokes or comments, can be accidental humor caused by your own cover letter mistakes.  The use of an error-free cover letter template and a thorough review of the letter once complete, may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at some of the errors made, creating unintentionally hysterical consequences.  The following are some additional examples from actual cover letters:

“Finished eighth in my class of ten.”

“I show great attention to detale.”

“Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping’. I’ve never quit a job.”

These examples are funny for the reader, but disastrous for the applicant.

It’s okay to offer a humorous side of your personality in your cover letter, but don’t use the wrong kind of humor, and do use a good cover letter template, or the last place you’ll be laughing will be “to the bank.”