Cover Letter Mistakes: 5 Words and Phrases to Delete from Your Cover Letter

Cover Letter Mistakes: 5 Words and Phrases to Delete from Your Cover Letter

Cover Letter Mistakes: 5 Words and Phrases to Delete from Your Cover LetterCover letters are not dead, and cover letter mistakes can still cost you a job to someone who does a better job in their letter. One easy way to write a strong cover letter is simply to avoid certain overused and ineffective words. Here’s why you don’t want to use 5 of these too-common words and phrases, and what some alternatives might be.

Read till the end. I saved the best for last.

5 Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

1)  Using the word “hope.”

Examples

I hope to hear from you soon.

OR

I hope to be able to contribute my skills to ABC company.

Why You Should Avoid this Cover Letter Mistake

Hope springs eternal. The company doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams. They care about what you can do for them.

Alternatives to “Hope”

I look forward to speaking with you further regarding my qualifications.

OR

My ability to take clear, decisive action will allow me to make an impact at ABC company from day one.

OK, now we’re talking!

2)  Saying you want to improve or hone your skills.

Example

I am excited to hone my programming skills at ABC company.

Why You Should Avoid It

Companies do not hire you in order to train you. They want someone who will make a contribution. Just like “Objective” statements stating what you want are no longer desirable on resumes, don’t tell a company in a cover letter what you want to get from them.

Alternative to Avoid this Cover Letter Mistake

I look forward to contributing my programming skills to the efforts of ABC company to make the web accessible to everyone.

(No neediness here. So much better.)

3)  Saying you are “drawn” to a company.

Example

I am drawn to ABC company because of its outstanding reputation and high-quality service.

Why You Should Avoid It

You get drawn to a person across a crowded room. Companies don’t care to hear that you are drawn to them. And a bonus tip: companies with outstanding reputations don’t need to be told that you want to work there because of their outstanding reputations. Who wouldn’t be drawn to those companies?

Alternative for “Drawn”

The relationship management skills I built while working in a state office are a match for ABC company’s commitment to outstanding customer service.

(That’s so much better, isn’t it?)

4)  Talking about how you “feel.”

Example

I feel the relationship management skills I built while working in a state office are a match for ABC company’s commitment to outstanding customer service.

Why You Should Avoid It

Can you see how adding “I feel” at the beginning of this sentence killed it completely? Tell a psychologist how you feel. Tell a company what you can do for them. If you must, use the word “believe” instead of “feel.” But see if you can avoid this type of language altogether.

Alternative for “Feel”

The relationship management skills I built while working in a state office are a match for ABC company’s commitment to outstanding customer service.

5)  Referring to “Your company.”

The worst possible cover letter mistake is to write a generic cover letter. Never, ever, write a cover letter where you only refer to the name of the company when you say “I’m applying for a the position of X at ABC Company.” Use the name of the company multiple times throughout the letter.

Don’t just use the name of the company. Tell them why you want to work specifically for them. Speak to their mission and values. Do you know someone who worked there? Have you used their products for 20 years? Don’t be afraid to get personal. That human touch could be the thing that gets you the job.

Examples

My father and greatest insurance mentor, J.B. Krankshaw, who was mentored by ABC Insurance founder L.B.J, had a phenomenal 40+-year record as an ABC Insurance agent.

In my mind, Jimmy’s has differentiated itself, prompting me to become a full-fledged, app-carrying brand fan. I was one of their first consumers when they first opened in my town, and last year, I enthusiastically helped the XYZ Digital Marketing team win the Jimmy’s competition.

Take these five tips to heart when you’re writing your next cover letter and you’ll avoid some common cover letter mistakes. Not only that, but I promise you that more creative and powerful language will show up, making your cover letter more effective than you ever thought it could be.

Did you try it?  Share examples in the comments please!


Are you struggling to craft a creatively worded cover letter that gets attention? We’d love to help! The Essay Expert offers entry-level, mid-level, and executive-level cover letter writing services.


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Comments (17)

  1. This was really helpful and it was great that you provided an alternative to the “not to use” words. Some people just say don’t use these words but they don’t provide examples of what to subsitute it with.

    • Aug 19, 2010

      Thanks Jimmy, I agree that some blog articles can be frustrating in that they tell you what’s wrong but don’t give concrete ways to improve it. I’m glad you enjoyed my article!

  2. Aug 20, 2010

    Hi Brenda,
    Great tips! I think one can use them in situations other then job interviews too. I think replacing words that convey hesitation with power words conveys that one is a decisive person and believes in action rather than mere words.

    Laya

  3. Aug 27, 2010

    Excellent advice that puts the focus on the employer’s perspective of the hiring process. Thank you!

  4. Sep 24, 2010

    This is terrific advice as I know I use the term ‘feel’ in my cover letters.

    What are your thoughts on ‘believe?’

    As in “I believe that my qualifications are a perfect match to your job requirements and I am an ideal candidate for the position of XXXXX”

    • Sep 24, 2010

      Great question Jason. I would avoid that language if at all possible, since 99% of cover letters include it! “Believe” is better than “feel” but I’d rather just hear you talk about how you will contribute.

  5. Amy Welch
    May 4, 2012

    Thanks for the great tips. I will be revising all my cover letters with these guidelines in mind.

  6. Cheryl yates
    Aug 5, 2016

    This was SO helpful!! I tend to use “I feel” and I’m so glad I read this before hitting send.

    • Brenda Bernstein
      Aug 16, 2016

      I’m glad too Cheryl. Thanks for letting me know my article was helpful for you!

  7. Garry Goodman
    Jan 16, 2018

    In fact, in out time, the ability to express yourself valued highly. Your words are your reflection. Most interesting: somehow I was at training dedicated to communication. When you listen to the speaker, you can see how many of them use these “stop words”. Little thought was given to the replacing few words in his vocabulary. You can hook more confident in the most people`s eyes if you will do it!
    Im my blog for papercheap.co.uk I raised the issue of people`s communication. Communication occupier a huge part of our life, it`s difficult to imagine the world as it is now without it. In fact, your manner of speaking, your words will show your personality. When you skillfully use words and know how to use their power – then there will not be such doors that you can not open.

  8. Feb 23, 2018

    Hello,

    I would like to make a cover letter that will appeal to the hiring manager. How will I tell them that I have all the qualifications except that my English is only beginner to medium. Because English is not my mother tongue, I can just say simple English, good enough to understand and to be understood. I was fired from my first job because she wanted someone with an excellent communications skills. And my succeeding jobs, my bosses always corrected my English. I knew that I have lots of good qualities and my only problem is the English. I cannot say that my English is so bad. I can communicate effectively, there are times that I cannot tell the correct words. If it were not, how can I have, let’s say, 8 errors in a year if I could not communicate effectively.

    Please e-mail me what should I put in my cover letter to tell all these things so that I can find the right employer which will appreciate my strength rather than my one and only weakness, which is English. Thanks.

    • Brenda Bernstein
      Feb 25, 2018

      Hi J.A., the biggest thing I would recommend, if your English has been an issue in your employment, is to take classes or improve your English in some other way. If you could write in your cover letter that you’re studying English, I believe that would be the most attractive solution to an employer! Also I would write your cover letter yourself so that the employer knows the level of your English and can base their decision on your true ability.

  9. Michael Robert
    May 9, 2018

    Very helpful. I’ll review my cover letter using all of the advice provided in this article. Thanks for sharing.

    • Brenda Bernstein
      May 9, 2018

      You’re very welcome, Michael. Thank you for your comment!

  10. Hayden Fink
    Jul 25, 2018

    Thank you for these helpful suggestions regarding the content of cover letters. I believe that you are spot on with your advice!

    • Brenda Bernstein
      Jul 31, 2018

      You’re very welcome Hayden!

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