The words to cut out of your cover letter NOW

The Words You Need to Get Out of Your Cover Letter NOW for Success — Including “Reliable” and “Incredible”

  • Australian recruiting experts have revealed the words to cut from job applications
  • Job seekers should never use popular buzzwords or clichés to describe skills
  • Words like ‘trustworthy’, ‘unbelievable’ and ‘I believe’ should be avoided
  • A cover letter is an ‘opportunity to stand out’ from other candidates


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A group of recruiting experts has revealed the words job seekers should avoid when writing a cover letter.

Job seekers should never use popular buzzwords or clichés – such as “people person, “I believe” and “unbelievable” – to describe their skills.

Instead, experts recommend using “active words” and giving examples of how you’ve worked well to achieve something.

A cover letter is an ‘opportunity to set yourself apart’ from other candidates, so it’s important to avoid generic phrases.

Job seekers should never use popular buzzwords or clichés – such as “people person, “I believe” and “unbelievable” – to describe their skills

‘I believe’

Emma Harvey, Manager at recruiting firm Robert Walters in Melbourne, told the Australian job seekers company: SEARCH job seekers should always use strong terminology when writing a cover letter.

“Phrases like ‘I believe I’m a strong communicator’ can give the impression that you’re the only one who thinks this,” she said.

Instead, Ms. Harvey recommended using “active language” and providing examples to support your claims.

For example, you could write, “I exceeded my budget by x percent” or “I managed a team of four.”

‘Trustworthy’

Ms Harvey said employers assume that employees are trustworthy, so it makes no sense to include this in a cover letter.

Alternatively, job seekers can switch this generic quality to describing skills relevant to the job description.

“If the job posting mentions that you’re part of a team, give an example of collaboration and what has been achieved,” she said.

A cover letter is an 'opportunity to set yourself apart' from others, which is why it's important to avoid clichés or generic phrases

A cover letter is an 'opportunity to set yourself apart' from others, which is why it's important to avoid clichés or generic phrases

A cover letter is an ‘opportunity to set yourself apart’ from others, which is why it’s important to avoid clichés or generic phrases

‘Self-starter’ and ‘people person’

Due to the repeated use of cover letter terminology, other expressions such as “self-starter” and “people person” often lack depth and meaning.

Mark Smith, Managing Director of recruitment agency people2people, told SEEKm that these terms have become clichés and that recruiters are “tired of reading it.”

“Clichés have very little value, so be specific about your qualities and achievements,” he said, adding: “For example, if you started a new business development program, what was the outcome?”

‘Salary’

Job seekers should never state the salary in the cover letter, as this can limit the negotiation opportunities.

“Don’t state your salary expectation as it may not be in line with the employer’s budget,” Ms Harvey said.

She suggested not to write a “negotiable salary” because you might be selling yourself short.

Due to the repeated use of cover letter terminology, other expressions such as “self-starter” and “people person” often lack depth and meaning

‘Incredible’

Words like “incredible” can come across as arrogant or complacent, experts have revealed.

While it’s important to be confident in your abilities, it’s important to avoid “exaggerating words and sayings.”

“Let the results speak for themselves,” said Mr. Smith.

“Talk about whether you were generating half a million dollars in sales or there was a 30 percent increase while you were a sales manager. This allows a recruiter to quantify your skills. It’s hard to quantify a word like “incredible” or “fantastic.”

The words you should change on your resume:

Replace these words:

  • Loyal
  • Energetic
  • punctual
  • Motivated
  • Hardworking
  • Team player
  • ‘I believe’
  • Trustworthy
  • Dynamic
  • Salary
  • unbelievable
  • people-person
  • self-starter

With powerful action verbs such as:

  • Developed (e.g. “I developed a new training manual”)
  • Achieved (e.g. “I have met all my sales targets”)
  • Managed (e.g. “I led a team of three”)
  • Started (e.g. “I started a health and safety program”)

Source: To search

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