5 Common Words to Erase from Your Vocabulary on Cover Letters

Posted by Eric Sorrentino

Jun 18, 2013 8:59:00 AM

cover letter failMy mission in today's blog is to provide online students who are looking for a more desirable job with an early advantage in their job search.

The intent of a cover letter is to make a favorable impression with potential employers, with the ultimate goal receiving an invitation for an in-person interview. If you can prove to the employer in a confident manner that you are the right person for the job through the cover letter, you're on the right track.

Naturally, then, the question becomes, "How is that done?" We've written several articles with cover letter tips, which can be found here. It's also important to stay away from certain words that could turn the employer's interest in another direction. Here are five words to erase from your vocabulary when composing cover letters:

1. Feel

The word "feel" has a passive connotation and should be avoided when trying to make a favorable impression with employers. Here's an example:

Passive: "I feel that my experience would translate well to this position."

Instead, use: "I'm confident my experience would translate well to this position."

2. Assisted

Most employers are looking for team players who lead, not team players who assist. As a result, refrain from saying the word "assisted" in cover letters (and resumes, for that matter). Use stronger action verbs such as developed, led, managed, organized, etc.

3. Maybe

This word hints at indecisiveness, which you do not want to communicate to a potential employer. Be firm in your statements, without being pompous (tips on how to do that can be found here). 

4. Creative

Using the word "creative" does not make you stand out to employers. Don't get me wrong: It's good to be creative. But everyone's saying it. According to Newsday, "creative" was recently ranked the No. 1 buzzword to avoid in cover letters and resumes.

Employers look through stacks of resumes every day. Give them something original. Instead of simply saying you're creative, show how you're creative with specific examples that link to tangible business results.

5. To whom it may concern

OK, so I cheated on this one. That's five words. But job seekers should not use this phrase in the salutation of cover letters unless absolutely necessary.

There are many ways to locate a name for your cover letter: LinkedIn, a Google search, calling the organization on the phone. We wrote a separate blog article specifically on this topic. Locating a name will make your cover letter more personal and professional. Even if this person isn't the hiring manager, at least the individual is in a related department, and it shows you've done more research than most applicants.

For more "words to eliminate" blogs, check out some of our previous entries:

Looking for additional tips to help turn cover letter submissions into interview invites? Click the image below to download our eBook, "Make the 'Call Pile' With Attention-Grabbing Resumes and Cover Letters."

describe the imageAbout the author: Eric Sorrentino joined Grantham University as Social Media Manager in October 2011. Prior to that, he blogged about Big 12 Conference athletics for KUsports.com and was a sports copy editor for the Lawrence Journal-World. Eric received his bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Kansas.

Topics: online degree programs, current students, former students, Career Tips, cover letters, vocabulary series

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