7 Cringeworthy Phrases That are Ruining Your Cover Letter

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July 22, 2024 at 6:25PM UTC
Like working on a resume, writing a cover letter is one of the most frustrating parts of the job search. It requires not only a strict attention to detail, but an undeterred focus on selling yourself to someone you've likely never met before  — in about 250 words. If you're going through a hefty job hunt, you're probably churning out letter after letter, which, even for people who like writing about themselves, gets boring
Unfortunately, repetition and boredom often causes us to lean on some pretty outrageous language in our job applications. These seven cringeworthy phrases are commonly used in cover letters — even if everyone in HR hates them — because they're just such great fillers. If you've got any in your writing, it's time to get rid of them. We've given you some phrases to use instead. 

1. "I think..."

If you're writing something in a letter, it's obvious it's what you think. This phrase weakens your language and makes you sound like you lack confidence, something you definitely don't want to project to a hiring manager. Let your sentences stand alone without this awkward introduction. 

2. "As you can see on my resume..."

If certain information about you is available on your resume, anyone who reviews it is going to know that. Instead of using this phrase, which is a bit condescending and more than a bit unnecessary, just break down the experience or skills you're recapping in a new way that's more conversational and appropriate for a letter format. Rather than write "As you can see on my resume, I have five years of experience as a sales manager," say: "I've worked as a sales manager for five years." This gives you more space to share the amazing skills you learned and projects you managed. 

3. "I'm writing to apply..."

If you're sending a cover letter, it's obvious you're applying to a job. Instead of using this cringeworthy phrase to introduce the job you're interested in, fit the position title into the thesis of your argument. Rather than write "I'm writing to apply for the customer success manager position," say: "My five years of experience as a customer success representative, along with my project management certification, makes me an excellent candidate for the customer success manager role."

4. "Thinking outside the box"

This is the cover letter cliche to end all other cover letter cliches. Everyone and their brother says one of their skills is "thinking outside the box" or being innovative in some way, shape or form. Rather than use this very general, kind of jargon-y phrase to describe yourself — and providing zero value to the hiring team in the process —  describe the truly innovative work you've done in your position. Discuss the changes you've made, the initiatives you launched and the creative solutions you've come up with. That's what they want to read. 

5. "Excellent communication skills"

Your excellent communication skills should be a given from your well-executed cover letter. This phrase is so general that no one could possibly deduce anything about you from it. Instead of describing yourself as an excellent communicator — something many, many people would say about themselves — list specific skillsets you have around communication, if it's mentioned in the job description you're responding to. 

6. "My name is..."

If you're formatting your cover letter like a letter, and you should be, your full name should be available in the header and the signature of your document. As a result, you don't need to repeat it again in the body. Rather than starting your letter with an unnecessary introduction, launch right into the meat of what you're trying to say. This makes you look confident and gives you more space to tackle the information the hiring manager actually wants to read. 

7.  "Perfect fit" 

It's cringeworthy to describe yourself as a perfect fit in your cover letter for several reasons. The application and interview process should be approached as a two-way street, where the candidate and the hiring team learn about each other and decide mutually if it's a good fit. This is probably your first approach to the role, so you really have no idea if it's a fit yet — much less a perfect fit. And if you act like you do, that screams delusion, desperation or rigid self-centeredness, none of which are qualities a hiring manager loves in a candidate. Rather than describe yourself as a perfect fit for the role, describe how your experience makes you qualified for the role and express your interest in learning more about how you can benefit the team. 

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