1. “I Think I Would Be A Good Fit”
In the modern work world, people typically apply to positions for a handful of reasons: they feel they’d be a good fit for the position, they’re interested in what the position might have to offer, or they’re absolutely desperate and would take anything. Regardless, you don’t need to explicitly state that you believe you would be a good fit or that you’re confident that they’d recognize that you’d be a good fit for the position. It’s important to remember that both your resume and cover letter need to demonstrate and showcase that you’d be a good fit for the position.
You shouldn’t just hope that you can tell them that you’d be a good fit. A solid cover letter needs to demonstrate visibly through your previous work experience, education, and skills that you’d be a good fit for the position. Focus on bringing real examples to your cover letter that highlight why you’d be a good fit instead of just telling them.
2. “I Am A Game Changer”
Companies are inundated with dozens to potentially hundreds of cover letters and resumes that they need to sift through for each position, let alone for every single position they have to review in a month’s time. HR professionals, recruiters, hiring managers, employers, and organizations don’t have time to read through fluff language or phrases that don’t tell them what they need. If anything, phrases like these often frustrate HR professionals because everyone feels like they’re a game changer. Once again, it’s important to demonstrate how you’d be an effective hire and why they should consider you over other candidates instead of telling them.
3. “I Need This Job Because”
Individuals need jobs for a variety of reasons. Some are looking to advance their career, others are looking to switch industries to try something new, some might be looking to expand their workload, and others are looking to get into the workforce for the first time. It doesn’t matter what your reasoning is for applying to the job, you don’t need to explicitly state it with the phrase, “I need this job because…”. It’s also important to remember that you don’t want to sound overly personal when you’re drafting your cover letter. Even if it might seem like a good idea to try and win the heart of the professional reviewing your resume, you should try and keep your cover letter as professional as possible.
4. “This Job Would Help Me”
Another common cover letter phrase that you should avoid is the too-often repeated: “this job would help me do (X) and (Y)”. As we’ve highlighted earlier, every single professional is seeking a new position or looking for a new career for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons that job seekers pursue new opportunities is because they’re already looking for a switch in their responsibilities or they’re hoping to make a difference elsewhere. You don’t need to explicitly state this in your cover letter.
Human resource professionals automatically assume that you’re interested in the job and that you’re passionate about the work or the purpose behind the work. Therefore, you don’t need to explicitly state how the job would help you, and instead, you should focus on highlighting how you can help them based on your skills, previous work experience, and education.
5. “I’m Seeking a Salary Of…”
One of the biggest no-no’s in the modern work world is to even bring up salary. In fact, salary negotiations shouldn’t even occur until they offer you the job. Talking about it too early can make it seem as if all you care about is the amount you’ll have each pay period. In addition, highlighting the money you’re seeking from the get-go might even disqualify you from further consideration if your price point is too high or too low.
Too high and the company might not be able to or can’t afford to pay you and they will begin to consider other candidates. Too low and they might worry about why you’re asking for so little, which can raise additional concerns about whether or not you feel you’re qualified for the job.
While some job boards do tend to put the pay range in the job description or highlight best-guesses based on previous jobs with the same title, you should still avoid mentioning this in your cover letter at all costs.
6. “I Think…”
This is another one of those common cover letter phrases that you should avoid before submitting your cover letter with your resume. It’s one of the many common cover letter phrases that you don’t need to explicitly state since your intention is already understood. When you’re writing your cover letter to highlight your interest in the job or highlight why you feel you’d be a good fit for the position based on your previous experience, you don’t have to explicitly state that you think or feel a certain way in your cover letter.
In addition, stating “I think” can also be a reference to underlying doubt. It comes across as you not feeling as confident as you could be. Instead, consider using phrases that make you appear more confident like, “I believe,” or, “I feel that”.
7. “Detail Oriented Individual” or “Detail-Oriented Professional”
One of the biggest problems with cover letters is that there are tons of guides and recommendations out there that say you should throw in all kinds of buzz words to grab the reader’s attention. While it’s absolutely true that you should have some relevant keywords to get past those applicant tracking system robots that are automatically sorting and narrowing the candidate field, you shouldn’t feel obligated to use cliche buzz words or phrases that every cover letter or resume uses.
Instead, if you’re going to include buzzwords, keywords, or phrases at all to describe your work ethic, use ones that callback to your resume and your effectiveness in previous positions. In addition, you should never feel obligated to explicitly state that you’re detail-oriented. In the professional world, every employee needs to be detail-oriented, otherwise, it could potentially cost the employer and organization hundreds to thousands of dollars. Instead, highlight key examples that will adequately and confidently show how you’re a detail-oriented individual or your attention to detail helped save the company money or improve efficiency!
8. “To Whom It May Concern”
It can sometimes be difficult to find exactly who you should address your cover letter to when you’re getting ready to send it out, but you should do your best to avoid including “To Whom It May Concern” as your addressee. If you’re lucky, the job description you’re looking at will highlight who you should address the cover letter to or who will be overseeing the applicants or reviewing applications. If the job description you’re looking at does not include the individual who will be reviewing your application, then do your best to conduct some research and find out who might be reviewing those applications.
One of the best ways to identify those individuals who might be reviewing the application is to browse the company’s profile on LinkedIn to identify potential HR professionals. If that doesn’t help you in your pursuit of identifying the individual you should address your cover letter to, then you can always call up the company and ask to speak to an HR professional who would know who you should address those cover letters to. If all else fails, then you can use the common, “To Whom It May Concern”.
9. “I’m Passionate About” or “I Like To Do Things That”
Another common cover letter phrase you should do your best to avoid is the frequent, “I’m passionate about…” or the less enthusiastic version “I like to do things that…”. As we’ve highlighted earlier, you shouldn’t feel obligated to once again echo that you’re passionate about something or that you like to do one thing or another that the job description highlights. It’s already clear that you’re passionate about something that the job description or the employer has to offer. You shouldn’t feel like you need to echo it over and over when you’re already submitting your application, resume, and cover letter.
Instead, you should focus on highlighting your professional experience or work history that details your passions in a particular role, industry, or work world.
10. “Ever Since”
One way that many job seekers and professionals like to highlight their passion for a particular role, industry, or set of responsibilities is that they like to use the phrase “Ever since I was…” or, “Ever since I had this previous role…”. Once again, you don’t need to restate the obvious when you’re drafting your cover letter. If you’re truly passionate about a role or set of responsibilities since you were younger or at a certain point in your career, it will be evident when they’re reading through your resume or reviewing your professional experience.
If you’re new to a particular industry or looking to make a career change, then there are other ways that you can demonstrate your passion for a particular role. Some of these ways that you can highlight your passion are by showcasing your volunteer experience or calling back to your education or the skills you’ve developed over time which would be useful in the role.
11. “I Like To Do Things That”
Similar to some of the other common cover letter phrases you should avoid we’ve highlighted earlier, you don’t need to explicitly state that you like to do things that are a big piece of the job description. Instead, you should demonstrate that you’re passionate about those things by highlighting your previous experience.
12. Industry-Specific Phrases or Jargon
One of the fastest ways to hurt your chances of moving forward to the next stage of any job application process is to confuse the individual who is reviewing your cover letter and resume. One of the fastest ways to confuse individuals reading your cover letter is by using industry-specific jargon or industry-specific phrases that they don’t understand.
It is a rare occasion when the individual who is reviewing your resume has professional experience in the industry they are actively recruiting for. In some cases, there are technical recruiters who only recruit for one particular industry or identify candidates who might be a good fit in that industry, but that doesn’t mean they understand the industry-specific jargon or know what every industry-specific or field-specific phrase means. Therefore, you should avoid using them at all costs.
Eventually, once you get past the first wave or two of pre-screening for candidates and get on to the interview stage, employers and managers who are familiar with industry jargon will understand what you’re saying, but you shouldn’t disqualify yourself or confuse individuals before you even get to that stage. Try to minimize phrases that might seem overly-complicated or industry-specific to avoid confusing individuals who are trying to understand whether or not they should push you forward to the next consideration stage.
13. Phrases That Beat Around The Bush or Elaborate Too Much
Another thing you want to do your best to avoid are any phrases that beat around the bush or elaborate too much. As we’ve outlined earlier, employers and HR professionals don’t have time to sift through dozens of cover letters that don’t get to the point. They want succinct cover letters that highlight your professional experience, draw attention to important points on your resume, and highlight why you should move to the next phase of candidate consideration. Avoid using any phrases or words on your cover letter that overly complicate it or lengthen it for no reason.
The next overused common cover letter phrase you should avoid is labeling yourself as a “self-starter”. These phrases usually indicate that you’re a go-getter or that you’re capable of doing tasks without constant oversight. While it’s great that you’re a self-starter, there are other ways to highlight that by calling to significant points on your resume like when you led a task or oversaw different production cycles of a company project.
15. “My Name Is”
One of the quickest ways to disqualify yourself from further consideration is to overstate the obvious throughout your cover letter. You shouldn’t take up ample cover letter space or reading time by restating things like your name. If your cover letter is properly formatted, then you should already have your name at the top.
16. “Forward Thinking” or “Forward Thinker”
Another easy trap to fall into when trying to describe yourself or your previous accomplishments in your cover letter is to use another cliche and common cover letter phrase like “forward thinker” or tying it into a longer sentence along the lines of, “Forward thinking individual with a demonstrated passion in (x)”. Instead of using cliche phrases and words throughout your cover letter, try to find ways to highlight that personality trait through direct calls of your resume or prior professional experience.
17. “I’m Confident I’m The Perfect Person For This Job”
One of the things that frustrates employers and HR professionals is when they read things like, “I’m the perfect person for this position,” or something similar. What makes you believe that you’re the perfect person? Is there truly no other individual who might have more experience or skills that would make them a better fit over time than you? Including this phrase on your cover letter is certainly bold, and it can also turn people off because of your overconfidence. Instead of declaring that you’re the perfect fit for the position, highlight why you’d be a great candidate for them to consider by detailing your previous experience.
18. “Fast Learner”
It’s important to highlight your skills and character traits throughout your cover letter. The caveat to doing that, however, is through direct highlights of your professional experience and the resume you’ve attached with your cover letter. You should never feel obligated to explicitly state that you’re a fast learner or some of the other key examples and common cover letter phrases we’ve highlighted above. When you include common catchphrases like this throughout your cover letter, it makes it appear like you’re trying to hide some of your other weaknesses. Try to avoid making it seem like you’re weak in some areas by including cliche phrases like this one.
19. “I’m The Best Candidate”
Similar to all the notes we mentioned with stating you’re the perfect person for the job, you also don’t want to use it’s neighbor phrase, “I’m the best candidate”. This phrase once again frustrates employers and human resource professionals because it can be so difficult to determine whether or not a candidate is objectively the best at one thing or another. Instead, you should replace these kinds of phrases with more appropriate descriptions and reflections of your skills and experience with things like, “Experienced in…”, “Adept in…”, “Skilled in…”, etc.
20. “Work Well Independently or as Part of a Team”
One of the ways that job seekers and professionals are trying to showcase that they’re comfortable in any work environment or company dynamic structure is to use the common cover letter phrases of “I work well independently,” or “I work well as part of a team”. While it might be true that you can do both and you’d be comfortable in both scenarios in a professional environment, employers are only looking for candidates who can do this already. You shouldn’t have to explicitly state it. Not to mention, these phrases have been overused to the point where they’re actively frustrating individuals who are reviewing your cover letter.
21. “Think Outside The Box”
Another common and cliche cover letter phrase that you should do your best to avoid is the one where you try to highlight your creativity and ability to “think outside the box.” While it’s true that companies, hiring managers, and human resources are actively looking for candidates who can think outside the box or solve problems with creative solutions, try to come up with other ways to highlight your ability to do so in your cover letter.
22. “Can’t Convey On Paper” or “Can’t Convey In Short Detail”
This is a red flag that will immediately flare up if you decide to include this phrase on your cover letter. While including this might seem like a good idea because you want to showcase how you cannot contain your excitement at the prospect of being considered for the position, it also highlights how you might have an inability to effectively communicate with others in a professional setting.
As a working professional, you’ll be tasked with putting things on paper or communicating via email or team messengers like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and you’ll need to be able to effectively communicate through written communication. When you include this common cover letter phrase, it raises alarm bells that you’re incapable of communicating effectively. Don’t send the wrong message by including this on your cover letter.
23. “Writing To Apply”
As we’ve mentioned earlier on your cover letter, you should avoid any phrases that take up ample room and restate the obvious. If you’re submitting your cover letter, resume, and application to a job posting, then you don’t need to once again highlight that you’re “writing to apply” to a particular position. The only time this common phrase should be used is when you’re submitting an email or letter to an entire HR department and you’re not certain who is going to receive it or it isn’t clear from the get-go what you’re writing about.
24. “I Left My Last Job Because…”
It’s important to always remember the reason that you’re crafting your cover letter. You’re writing your cover letter because you’re trying to highlight what hiring you can bring to an organization. You’re trying to highlight ways that you can impact them in the future and moving forward as a vital employee of their organization. You don’t want to include reasons or detail your reasoning behind leaving a previous job.
Doing so might even hurt you in the long run if you accidentally mention something that is prevalent in their current work environment or make them question whether or not you’ll talk badly about them if you decide to move on to a future position down the road as well.
Keep your cover letter focused on highlighting ways that you can bring them something new in the future if they decide to choose you over other candidates.
25. “I Have Excellent Written and Oral Communication Skills”
Another key phrase that you should avoid on your cover letter is to use the common “excellent written and oral communication skills”. Often time job seekers and professionals will choose to include this on their cover letter because it’s frequently listed in job descriptions. In fact, nearly every single job description includes this as a pre-requisite or requirement. Even though it includes this part of the job posting, you should identify other keywords or phrases to include in your cover letter. This particular phrase is so overused from every single candidate that employers, hiring managers, and human resource professionals are sick and tired of seeing it.
It might seem like a good idea to include a bunch of common cover letter phrases throughout your resume, but it’s important that you stand out and draw attention to your resume. Using common cover letter phrases won’t do you any favors in your attempts to highlight why they should choose you over other candidates. Instead, focus on speaking to your resume and demonstrating why your professional experience and skills would make you the ideal hire.
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