5 Cover Letter Phrases to Stop Using

5 Cover Letter Phrases to Stop Using

You might be a detail-oriented team player, but a hiring manager is going to trash your cover letter if that’s all you have to say about yourself. Why? These buzzwords are tired and cliché, and even though every hiring manager has read them thousands of times, they ultimately mean nothing. It’s time to ditch phrases like these for good and improve your cover letter with more meaningful language instead.

1. I can work well independently as well as on a team

This is not something that anyone needs to say – if they have any work history or education on their resume, it’s implied. As a result, this statement looks like page filler to a hiring manager.

That being said, some employers will put requirements like this on their job postings. If this is the case, you still don’t need to outright say you work well independently and on a team. Instead, give examples of jobs where you lead your company to success through both your independent and team efforts.

For example, working as a stylist on a photoshoot entails pulling together a look on your own but also ensuring that your look works with the creative director’s vision, the work of both the makeup artist and hairstylist, and so on. Think of examples like this you have in your own work history to bring into your cover letter.

2. I am a very detail-oriented person

This also looks like filler, but more than that, it can come back to bite you if you have even a single error on your resume or cover letter. It’s best to avoid saying you’re detail-oriented and simply prove it by triple-checking every single thing on your application package, maybe even having a friend or family member look it over. Ensure that there isn’t a single typo and the layout you’ve picked looks pristine – that way, the hiring manager who looks at it will see your attention to detail in action.

3. I think outside of the box

Not only is this statement a cliché, but it’s vague – it could mean absolutely anything, and a hiring manager can’t guess what you were thinking when you wrote it. Besides, does it really show that you think “outside of the box” if you’re using a common statement that people have used for years? This phrase is working against you!

Think about what this statement means to you and find a concrete example from your past work to exemplify what you mean by it. Maybe you’re talking about how you have a unique creative vision – talk about a social media campaign you constructed where your idea for the visuals drove up the company’s follower count. Or, maybe, it just means you can figure out a way to solve virtually any problem – detail a time you had to get creative when solving a workplace problem. Real examples speak volumes over generic statements!

4. I have excellent oral and written communication skills

Like the first point, this is something that’s implied since you’ve had jobs or gone to school before, but it also might be listed in a job posting.

Regarding written communication skills, your application package should show off your written communication skills – another reason to edit and then re-edit to make sure it’s perfect. But, aside from that, you should discuss the specifics of your written communication skills, highlighting whatever is most applicable to the job – fashion journalism? Copywriting? Press releases? Written communication could be a lot of things.

As for oral communication skills, you also need to use specific examples from your past work experience. You can discuss successes you had in your retail career that came from strong connections with your clients, or the fact that you were selected to make multiple presentations at your company. Most jobs require great verbal communication skills, so dig for something in your past that best applies to the job you’re applying to.

5. I am excited to hone my skills at this company

If you’re hoping to refine your skills in the workplace, that’s great! However, it’s not something an employer wants to know about. Unless it’s an internship or entry-level role specifically seeking people new to the industry, employers are looking for people who are accomplished and proficient in their skills. Saying you’d like to improve your skills will only get you moved to the bottom of the pile – take it off your cover letter entirely.

In general, avoid all the age-old clichés that are common to cover letters. Don’t be vague – be as specific as possible and follow up each claim about yourself with an example from your past experience. Cover letters with brand new phrasings, metrics, and tons of examples will be refreshing to any hiring manager.

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Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.