#GIRLBOSS Selected Quotes
and the Value of Cover Letters

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Quotes from #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso

#GirlBoss by
Sophia Amoruso

The Job Search and “The Necessary Evil: Cover Letters,”

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” —Leonardo da Vinci

I love cover letters. Yes, they’re painful to write— and trust me, often painful to read— but a cover letter is your first opportunity to make an impression on your future boss.

As an employer, when I go through hundreds of applications from people who all have very similar-sounding education and experience, cover letters are the only glimpse I have into a person’s personality.

Cover letters separate the #GIRLBOSSes from the girls. That said, few people seem to know how to make a cover letter sing.

It’s incredible how low the bar is, so you’re in luck! I’m about to help you navigate the weird, unnatural world of putting your best foot forward in a few paragraphs.

Cover Letter Mistake #1: The cover letter is all about what you want. Nasty Gal gets so many cover letters that detail a “passion for fashion” and then proceed to talk about how this job will help the applicant pursue her interests, gain more experience, and explore new avenues.

If a cover letter starts out like this, I usually end up reading the first couple of sentences before hitting the delete button.

Why? Because I don’t care about what a job will do for you and your personal development. I know that sounds harsh, but I don’t know you, so the fact that you want to work for my company does not automatically mean that I have an interest in helping you grow your career .

I have a business that is growing by the day, so I want to know what you can do for me. It’s as simple as that.

Cover Letter Mistake #2: Your cover letter basically says that nothing you’ve ever done is even remotely applicable to the job you’re applying for.

When we posted a job for a copywriter a while back, I remember reading an application from someone who had graduated with an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, one of the most prestigious writing programs in the country.

This is what stood out the most to me about her résumé, but it wasn’t even mentioned in her cover letter. A cover letter can connect the dots between where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re trying to go. Unless you spell out what that is in your cover letter, your potential employer may never know.

If you’re light on extracurricular activities coming out of college because you had to work forty hours a week to pay for it, then by all means make sure that it’s obvious.

Someone who shows evidence of financial responsibility and work ethic can be just as impressive, if not more so, than someone who was president of the Bowling Society or secretary of the Wine Tasting Club. Even if you’re applying to work at a bowling alley that serves only wine. (Okay, maybe not then.)

Cover Letter Mistake #3: You give so- called constructive criticism— without being asked.

When I’m interviewing people, I’ll often ask what they think Nasty Gal could be doing better, and I am genuinely interested to hear what they have to say.

But detailing the ways that you think a company needs to improve in a cover letter is like meeting someone for the first time and telling her that you think she’d be so much cuter if she lost just five pounds.

It’s distasteful. You would be surprised to learn how often people think that dedicating their entire cover letter to detailing Nasty Gal’s flaws is a good idea. It’s not. I always want to write these people back and say, “Opinions are like [@ssholes]; everybody’s got one.”

But I don’t, because I’m a #GIRLBOSS so I keep it professional-ish.

Cover Letter Mistake #4: Either you didn’t take the time to read it, or you just really, really can’t write.

In Jason Fried’s book Rework, he writes that one of the smartest investments a business can make is in hiring great writers, and I completely agree. No matter what you are hired to do, you will be infinitely better off if you are able to clearly communicate your ideas. We can’t all be Shakespeare, but spend some time on your cover letter and have someone else look it over to make sure it reads well.

If it looks like you don’t care about your cover letter and rushed through it, then I’m going to assume that you will be just as careless in your work. On that note, another piece of advice: Spell-check exists for a reason; use it, but don’t rely on it. If you don’t know the difference between “there ,” “their,” and “they’re,” you’re in bad shape.

We’re lucky enough in the United States to get by with only having to know one language, so nail the one we’ve got! If I have to read another e-mail that begins with “I’ve followed Naty Gal since the eBay days,” I will throw myself out the window. As we are only on the third floor, that means that I will have to deal with a really gnarly sprained ankle and it will be all your nonthinking, non-spell-checking fault. Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (pp. 152-155). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Chaos Magic

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” —Roald Dahl Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 122). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Would you consider?

If you’re frustrated because you’re not getting what you want, stop for a second: Have you actually flat-out asked for it? If you haven’t, stop complaining. You can’t expect the world to read your mind. You have to put it out there, and sometimes putting it out there is as simple as just saying, “Hey, can I have that?” Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 112). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Early victories

It was shocking how fast it all happened. Nasty Gal went from doing $ 150,000 a year to doing $ 150,000 a day, and now we do $ 150,000 over lunch. I think that part of the reason Nasty Gal has been so successful is because my goals were never financial ones.

I believed in what I was doing, and fortunately other people believed in it as well. I cared as much about the process as I did about the results. No decision was too small. Whether it was the word choice in a product description or the expression on a model’s face, I treated everything with the utmost care.

At the time this was just because, like I said before, I’m the kind of person who pays attention to something as small as a crooked shipping label. In hindsight, I see that it’s those small things that can make or break a business. Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 103). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Team mates vs Room mates

Shared living situations are also a blueprint for financial disaster, so try to spread the utility love among your roommates rather than volunteering to have all the bills in your name.

Better yet, if you’re worried someone might not pull her weight, don’t live with that person. Living in the party house is a blast until the party’s over and you’ve got an $ 800 gas bill and your roommates— who are, like, your best friends and you guys are gonna know each other forever— are suddenly MIA.

Bills, sadly, are not an ignore-it-and-it-goes-away problem . If you’ve been getting an overdue notice from the cable company every two weeks for the last three months, and all of a sudden it stops coming, that does not mean that they’ve gotten over you and moved on to someone else. Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (pp. 105-106). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition

Listen to your parents

I come from a long line of hustlers . My dad has worked in home loans for as long as I’ve been alive, my mom sold houses before becoming a writer, and they have both worked entirely on commission since before I was born. In short, how much money they brought home was a direct result of how hard and how smart they worked. Sometimes we rented single-story houses; sometimes we owned two-story houses.

My dad always said, “You’re only as good as your next month,” and in Nasty Gal’s early days that was how I lived as well. Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 108). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Cash Is King?

Money is a guarantee that we may have what we want in the future. Though we need nothing at the moment it insures the possibility of satisfying a new desire when it arises. —Aristotle Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 106). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Advice for the Millennial cohort,

You Are Not a Special Snowflake

“Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed that 40% believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance.” —Joel Stein in Time magazine Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 166). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

 

Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson famously defined “entrepreneurship” as “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 186). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

 

Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees. —Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO and author of Delivering Happiness Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 188). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

 

Access to talented and creative people is to modern business what access to coal and iron ore was to steelmaking. —Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class Amoruso, Sophia (2014-05-06). #GIRLBOSS (p. 209). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

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2 Responses

  1. Keegan Hess says:

    I really enjoyed this reading as it provided me with a lot of insight that is useful for me as I am building up my resume. Reading all of the mistakes that are in this article about what not to write on a cover letter made me revise how my cover letter approached each business that I am applying for. The one mistake that really stuck out to me was the to not criticize or have ways that the business can improve because it is “distasteful.” I completely understand this point because a boss does not want to hear that from someone that is not yet a part of their business yet because they are unaware of what you are capable of and it just does not give a good first impression.

    • Jack Yoest says:

      Keegan, you are exactly right — we should never criticize a previous manager or even a competitor. Complaining is easy — even if justified.

      Well Done,
      Jack

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