So, you’ve written your cover letter… you’ve customized it for the company and position you’re seeking, you’ve opened and closed strongly, and you’ve stated your case. You’re ready to submit your application, but before you do, go back through your cover letter one more time and eliminate these commonly used phrases because they can kill even the strongest of cover letters.
1) “I think I’d be a great fit.”
Opinion phrases can inadvertently cast doubt on what you’re saying. You “think” you’d be a great fit? Why don’t you know you’d be a great fit? Would other people disagree with you and think you wouldn’t be great fit? Why do you only think you’d be a good fit? You don’t want to leave these thoughts in the hiring manager’s mind.
These types of opinion phrases can make you sound insecure. Sure, you may have simply been trying to avoid sounding too cocky, but instead, you’ve undermined your own abilities. Don’t use opinion phrases. Period. And keep in mind that sentences such as “I’m confident I’d be a good fit” are also opinion phrases that can cause similar problems.
Instead, drop the opinion part of the sentence and just state your position because if you’re saying it, it’s obviously your opinion. You don’t need to clarify that it’s your opinion. Moreover, simply stating, “I’d be a great fit,” is far more convincing than the same message with “I think” or “I’m confident” in front of it. It’s also shorter and gets right to the point.
Cover letters often highlight our best qualities, but if everything is just “good” – i.e., “I’m a good writer,” “I have good project management skills,” “I’m good at working with other people” – we actually sound rather average.
There are so many more exciting adjectives that we could use that will really make us sound spectacular. For example: “I’m an accomplished writer,” “I have expert project management skills,” and “I’m efficient and experienced at working with other people.” These small word choice changes make these phrases take on a whole different connotation. Clearly the person being described in this paragraph is much more qualified than the one described in the first paragraph.
Here’s a list of many other words that you can substitute for the word “good” that will help you shine throughout your cover letter:
Skilled, talented, experience, accomplished, expert, successful, apt, seasoned, thorough, capable, competent, efficient, etc.
Use any one of these (and more) words to replace “good” and see how quickly your cover letter improves.
3) “This position would help me because…”
Sometimes we may feel inclined to describe how a position fits well with us and our goals in efforts to explain why we’re applying for the job. Thus, it may seem fitting to describe how a certain job would help you further develop your leadership skills, for example. However, the hiring manager truly does not care how this job can help you. He is primarily concerned with how you will help him and the company. That’s it.
So instead of trying to use these types of arguments to explain why you’re applying for the job, use a different tactic. Simply describe your abilities in the context of the company’s needs and then detail how, together, you two can achieve the company’s desired results and goals. You can fix their problems and address their needs – THAT is why you are applying for the job.
4) “As you can see on my resume…”
If the hiring manager can see it on your resume, you don’t need to highlight its presence there. They can see it for themselves.
Similar to point #1, this is a phrase that could indicate some insecurity on your part. If you have the experience, it should be blatantly obvious on your resume; thus, you shouldn’t have to point it out.
So instead of saying, “As you can see on my resume, I’ve been working in medical communications for the last three years; thus, I will be an asset to the marketing department of XYZ pharmaceutical company,” drop the first part, and just say, “I’ve been working in medical communications for the last three years; thus, I will be an asset to the marketing department of XYZ pharmaceutical company.” This is a more direct statement that is not only stronger, but also projects unwavering confidence.
5) “I’m the best candidate because…”
Speaking of confidence… confidence in a cover letter is great, but there is a fine line between confident and cocky. If you are overly confident, you will merely appear arrogant.
You may believe you are the “best” candidate, but without reading ALL of the applications yourself, you really can’t be completely sure that you are indeed THE best candidate for the position. And imagine if you were the hiring manager and you read 10 cover letters in a row, all of which stated that they were either “the best candidate,” “the ideal candidate,” or “the perfect candidate.” That would get pretty annoying rather quickly and you’d probably dismiss all of them.
Instead, remain confident without crossing the line into arrogance and cockiness by using any of these words:
Excellent, great, terrific, strong, outstanding, unique, etc.
Conveying the idea that you would be “a strong candidate” for the position is much more accurate, demonstrates your confidence, and doesn’t overstate your abilities.
Eliminating these five common phrases from your cover letter will instantly make your letter sound stronger, and, in turn, your letter will be much more effective.
Your cover letter is your first opportunity to impress the hiring manager. Don’t unintentionally doubt your own abilities, make yourself sound average, or frustrate the hiring manager in the process. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and with cover letters, that first impression comes across in your word choice, so make sure you choose words and phrases that make you shine!
** Review your cover letter(s) for these mistakes, correct them, and let us know how it goes! **
Share your thoughts below by clicking the “Leave a Reply” link or by clicking the chat bubble in the top right of the post.