We don’t know when job applicants stopped paying attention to the quality and creativity of their cover letters, but we may assume where this trend is coming from: we assume that the employers don’t even read those cover letters.
They find all information they need in the resume, and then they schedule an interview to see if this is the real person for them.
Most recruiters and hiring managers won’t read the cover letter. Still, they will include it as a requirement for the job applicants. Most job hunters know this, so they stop paying attention to the way they write their cover letters. They just use the same template over and over again, repeating the same clichés that might cost them a job.
That’s a problem.
We said that most recruiters won’t read the cover letters. Not all recruiters. Many will still read. How do you know what this particular recruiter is going to do?
You can’t know that. Your best bet is to assume that they will read the entire application very diligently, so you have to make it perfect.
It’s time to start recognizing and avoiding cover letter clichés. That’s your first step towards writing a better cover letter that will be more enjoyable to read.
Cover Letter Clichés to Avoid
1. “I’m the best candidate”
Any decent online guide on how to write a cover letter will tell you the same thing: sell yourself and be as self-confident as possible. That might lead you to including one of the most common clichés ever: “I’m the best candidate for this job.”
If the recruiter sees that, they will think: “Oh, really? How could you possibly know that? Can you see all other applications I got? No; you can’t. So you’re just making assumptions and you’re cocky, and I don’t like that.”
There is a thin line between self-confidence and mere arrogance. You could still use a similar phrase to explain that you’re a great fit for this particular position. Why don’t you write just that? “I’m a great fit for this position because…” Now that sounds better, doesn’t it?
2. “My objectives for this job are…”
It’s important to include your objectives in the cover letter, so the employer will know how this job fits into your career plans.
But when you start the sentence with “My objectives for this job are…” it sounds like a template. It’s too obvious and it makes you look like a five-year-old answering a question.
Write a more natural cover letter. Write this part as if you were talking to the employer during an interview and you were explaining how this job fits into your plans for the future. There’s no need for a boring introduction, bullet points for the objectives, or anything else that would make your resume look too familiar. Everyone else is doing that. You don’t want to be like everyone else, right?
3. “As I already wrote in my resume…”
This is a very common phrase that candidates use when repeating the same things they already wrote in the resume. It’s a filler, and it’s what recruiters and hiring managers detest the most. They don’t want you to waste their time by repeating something they already read in the resume.
Even if you’re referring to a job you mentioned, you don’t need to mention the resume. Just clarify what job you’re talking about, and write something they don’t already know.
4. “I need this job because…”
Why are you applying to this position? The answer is simple: you need this job. But you should never make that obvious to the employer. That just makes you look desperate. A sentence like this would make the employer think that you have no other choice but to apply for this particular position. So that makes you lose your competitive edge.
Employers want to compete for the best candidates. They want to hire someone who they need; not someone who needs them. You understand the difference, right?
Instead of writing “I need this job because…” you can write something like “As an organization, you’ll benefit from my presence because…”
Tell them why the organization needs you; not why you need them.
5. “I am good at…”
“I am good at writing content and planning marketing campaigns for brands.”
When an employer sees something like that in a resume, they assume it comes from an average candidate. Anyone can be good at something. The organization won’t hire them because of that reason. Recruiters aim to hire above-average candidates.
Instead of good, you can use more specific adjectives, such as efficient, seasoned, experienced, talented, skilled, or accomplished.
But even if you use some of those adjectives, you can’t leave that sentence hanging. It will still look like a cliché. When you explain how exactly you’re experienced at writing content and planning marketing campaigns, for example, you’ll get the employer’s attention. In this case, it’s important to include figures, examples, and activities you’ve been in charge of when working on a similar position.
6. “I believe I would fit in well in your company.”
This is one of the silliest cover letter phrases, ever. It makes the employer think: “Oh; you believe you’d fit in well? Well then I should just hire you because you’re a believer… Not!”
You never use phrases like “I think” or “I believe” in a cover letter. They make you sound insecure. In addition, they are completely irrelevant to the employer. They are not interested in what you think or believe.
You can replace this cliché with a phrase that makes you look more self-confident. For example, you may say “I am certain that I would fit well in your company because…”
That sounds more convincing, don’t you think?
7. “To whom it may concern”
Out of all phrases, this has to be the worst one. Instead of addressing the letter to a specific person, you don’t care enough to figure out who the hiring manager is, so you just write a general phrase like this one.
It’s boring, too common, and incredibly formal. Even if you don’t know who the hiring manager is, you can still do better than “To whom it may concern.” Just write “Dear Recruiter” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”
Invest More Effort in the Cover Letter
A cover letter is not easy to write, but your effort is well worth the results. Start by avoiding the common clichés that might cost you this job. With that, you’ll be one step closer to it.