Today the fabulous website, Letters of Note, published a letter from Da Vinci to the ruler of Milan. Not content to kick all of our asses in art, engineering and design, Da Vinci also schools us on how to write a kickass cover letter. Don’t see why this letter is so fabulously brilliant and why you should take notes as to it’s awesomeness? Don’t worry, Mama’s here to fill you in.
My Most Illustrious Lord, (Do you see how he kicks some ass here in THE SALUTATION LINE ALONE? This is why he is a genius who is remembered though time and we are all basking in his light. Da Vinci knows who he is writing to and writes the correct address. No “Dear Sir or Madam” for him – Da Vinci knows to whom this application is going, and manages to slip a nice little compliment in there too – illustrious – GOOD ONE.)
Having now sufficiently seen and considered the achievements of all those who count themselves masters and artificers of instruments of war, (The implication here is that Sforza is the master, and the Da Vinci is familiar with his work. RESEARCH the company you are applying to, and demonstrate that you’ve done your research in your cover letter. Just like Da Vinci, who is already kicking your ass in the first paragraph.) and having noted that the invention and performance of the said instruments is in no way different from that in common usage, I shall endeavour, while intending no discredit to anyone else, to make myself understood to Your Excellency for the purpose of unfolding to you my secrets, and thereafter offering them at your complete disposal, and when the time is right bringing into effective operation all those things which are in part briefly listed below: (Already, how could you resist this? Da Vinci understands he’s go to put his best foot forward with his prospective employer, and leads strong. He lets him know that he is experienced and available to start working exclusively for Sforza. Also, the “secrets” thing is just begging the reader to go further with this letter. Sounds intriguing. Secrets. YEAH. Who doesn’t want to know Da Vinci’s secrets? The Answer: EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW HIS SECRETS. This is irresistible. LEARN FROM THIS MAN.)
1. I have plans for very light, strong and easily portable bridges with which to pursue and, on some occasions, flee the enemy, and others, sturdy and indestructible either by fire or in battle, easy and convenient to lift and place in position. Also means of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
(Okay, so, see what he does here? He’s like – RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, I’VE GOT PLANS. Da Vinci has already started work BEFORE he’s even employed! That’s right, he’s coming to the job with the wheels already rolling. He’s like “Hey, Sforza, you know what you got on day one if you hire me? PLANS. PLANS FOR BRIDGES YOU NEED.” Da Vinci is ready to start. In your cover letter, you should make it clear that you are too.)
2. I know how, in the course of the siege of a terrain, to remove water from the moats and how to make an infinite number of bridges, mantlets and scaling ladders and other instruments necessary to such an enterprise.
(INFINITE? This is ballsy, and a great example of how you’ve got to talk about how freakin’ brilliant you are in a cover letter. It’s not like someone else is going to do it for you – you are the one whose got to tell people how awesome you are, and if that means an INFINATE number of bridges then GODDAMN you write that shit down.)
3. Also, if one cannot, when besieging a terrain, proceed by bombardment either because of the height of the glacis or the strength of its situation and location, I have methods for destroying every fortress or other stranglehold unless it has been founded upon a rock or so forth.
(Da Vinci has CLEARLY heard about a current problem the company is facing – bombardment and all it’s difficulties, and he is proposing a solution. HE IS A MAN WHO CAN SOLVE REAL WORLD PROBLEMS. That’s what companies like. You find out what their problem is, and you are like “You know what the solution is there? ME. I’m the solution. CALL ME.)
4. I have also types of cannon, most convenient and easily portable, with which to hurl small stones almost like a hail-storm; and the smoke from the cannon will instil a great fear in the enemy on account of the grave damage and confusion.
(Specifics. It’s all about specifics. DaVinci isn’t like “Um, I can build cannons or something…” he’s like “HEY ASSHOLES, MY CANNONS ARE EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER WANTED AND HERE IS HOW! YOU WANT TO HAVE A HAIL-STORM OF ROCKS FROM THE SKY THAT WILL MAKE YOUR ENEMIES WEEP? CALL ME.)
5. Also, I have means of arriving at a designated spot through mines and secret winding passages constructed completely without noise, even if it should be necessary to pass underneath moats or any river.
(More secrets. Sounds exciting. Maybe you should try to make your cover letters less freakin’ boring and more Mission Impossible. Like Da Vinci does.)
6. Also, I will make covered vehicles, safe and unassailable, which will penetrate the enemy and their artillery, and there is no host of armed men so great that they would not break through it. And behind these the infantry will be able to follow, quite uninjured and unimpeded.
(We all know that injury back in the time of no-antibiotics was basically the worst thing ever. Da Vinci has a solution for that. BAM. Another problem solved. By the greatest man who ever lived. He’s not just like “Oh, I can do this one thing.” He’s got lots of skills and ideas he can apply.)
7. Also, should the need arise, I will make cannon, mortar and light ordnance of very beautiful and functional design that are quite out of the ordinary.
(He’s like, “Listen, I know you are a LORD, so it’s not like your cannons can just be any old cannons, they need to be beautiful too. So while other guys might give you a decent, working cannon, my cannons are going to be FREAKIN’ beautiful. And when the enemy sees these radiant cannons, they’re going to be all “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW PRETTY THEY ARE! HOW COME THEY HAVE TIME TO MAKE PRETTY CANNONS? IT MUST MEAN THEY ARE BETTER THAN US LET US QUICKLY RETREAT!” Appeal to your reader. That’s the ticket.)
8. Where the use of cannon is impracticable, I will assemble catapults, mangonels, trebuckets and other instruments of wonderful efficiency not in general use. In short, as the variety of circumstances dictate, I will make an infinite number of items for attack and defence.
(You don’t like cannons? They not your thing? Don’t worry. I HAVE OPTIONS. Da Vinci is saying here “LISTEN, I’m not just the cannon man, I’m the man who will solve all your problems. No one wants an employee that can only do one thing. Da Vinci: IS MORE THAN THE CANNONS.)
9. And should a sea battle be occasioned, I have examples of many instruments which are highly suitable either in attack or defence, and craft which will resist the fire of all the heaviest cannon and powder and smoke.
(Da Vinci sees the complications that can arise, and he can meet them. HE GETS YOU.)
10. In time of peace I believe I can give as complete satisfaction as any other in the field of architecture, and the construction of both public and private buildings, and in conducting water from one place to another.
(The complete confidence of this statement is amazing. He’s like “OH YEAH, SO, UM, WITH ALL THIS SHIT I’LL BE DOING FOR YOU, THE WAR IS GOING TO BE OVER REAL SOON, BUT DON’T WORRY, BECAUSE I CAN MAKE SOME PEACE STUFF TOO.” Da Vinci sees beyond the current situation to the future needs of the company. Because he is a genius. Take notes.)
Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze and clay. Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible as well as any other, whosoever he may be.
(Some people, knowing Da Vinci’s work, would lead with this statement. After all, Da Vinci is only the most amazing human at these things. AND THIS IS WHY DA VINCI IS BETTER AT WRITING A COVER LETTER THAN YOU ARE. Because Da Vinci knows this Lord isn’t looking for an artist at the moment, he wants WAR MACHINES. But does that mean you leave this shit off? HELL NO. You just place it right.)
Moreover, work could be undertaken on the bronze horse which will be to the immortal glory and eternal honour of the auspicious memory of His Lordship your father, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.
(Again, he makes it personal to his employer. GOOD MOVE, GENIUS.)
And if any of the above-mentioned things seem impossible or impracticable to anyone, I am most readily disposed to demonstrate them in your park or in whatsoever place shall please Your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.
(Look at how this man ends – he basically INVITES himself to an interview while still coming off as humble at the end of this thing. He’s like “Don’t believe this is possible? LETS GET TOGETHER AND I’LL SHOW YOU. If Da Vinci is half as confident, charming and fabulous in the interview as in this letter, this position is in the bag. There is no way that this Lord isn’t going to want to see all this stuff – he basically can’t say no, and Da Vinci’s employment is secured. Because his cover letter is better than yours. Always. For all time.)
Da Vinci has thrown down the mic. Take note.