Cover letter clichés are a no-no, but how are you supposed to know if you include them? If you're like most job seekers, you feel caught between two conflicting impulses as you draft your cover letter: You want to stand out, but you also want to fit in. This can put your writing in an awkward place.
As you toe this line, be mindful of overused phrases that might put your readers to sleep. Remember that most candidates will include these tired expressions too. Like a flock of penguins, all of you will come off as degree-holding, politely smiling "hard workers" with ambition to spare. Below are five types of cover letter clichés to avoid; know that you can write a top-notch cover letter using our Cover Letter Builder, which provides job-specific text examples for your letter, plus the ability to download in a variety of formats.
It's all about me
"I" statements are problematic cover letter clichés, especially because they're so easy to do. Glance over your draft cover letter and note how many of your sentences begin with I, as in:
- "I believe I'm perfect for this job."
- "I've been searching for a position in the real estate industry for a long time."
- "I would like to help people and make a difference in their lives."
A few "I" sentences are fine, but vary them with sentences that emphasize your reader. Try writing sentences like these instead:
- "According to your post, you need a candidate with strong HTML skills."
- "You're about to open a branch office in Indiana."
- "You may be looking for a candidate who can handle a fast pace and tight deadlines."
Next, you can explain how you fit the bill.
Business clichés are a universal sight in a stack of candidate resumes. Overused phrases like "outside the box," "solution-provider," "change-driver," or "cloud-focused" can stay out of your cover letter. It's so easy to use these terms without thinking though.
Go over your initial draft. If you used these words, make sure they serve a specific purpose and reflect real knowledge of your industry. Next, challenge yourself to specify. For example, instead of "I think outside of the box," you could write "I seek to challenge myself creatively with all ideas."
"Original thinkers," "go-getters," and "hard-chargers" litter the applicant field for every open position under the sun. Get rid of these cover letter clichés and replace them with something more concrete.
Use terms that apply only to you, not to every candidate on the planet. Rather than writing "I am an original thinker," try "I pride myself on offering unique ideas and solutions consistently."
Skip meaningless phrases like "References available upon request," or "To whom it may concern." If you plan to direct your letter to a specific reader, use the person's first and last name (Dear Sally Waxler).
Don't worry about honorific terms if you don't know what they should be — and by all means, don't guess. Mr., Mrs., and Ms., don't need to appear in your letter. (Who cares about your reader's marital status? It's not 1952.) As for the references note, don't bother including that idea whatsoever. Having references is expected now.
Avoid writing "this is the exact role I'm looking for" and its siblings, which include: "This is the perfect position for me," "I believe we are a perfect match," and "This job was made for me."
Your cover letter should be written so well that your reader will come to this conclusion upon finishing it. Instead, include references to what the job entails and list the specific qualifications that make you a perfect fit.
For more on how to make your letter stand out in a crowded field of well-qualified applicants, rely on the tools available at MyPerfectResume.