Words to Never Use in Cover Letters

Using the right words on your cover letters can give you the extra edge. However, using the wrong words, can cause your resume to end up in the “rejected” file.

Below are 6 costly mistakes to avoid adding to your next cover letters.

“To Whom It May Concern”, “Dear Sir”, “Dear Madame”

Generic salutations can be a bit sterile as well as sound like you are using a cut-and-paste cover letter.   Conduct a little research to find the name of the hiring manager.  “Let’s say you are interested in a  Senior Staff Accountant position at ABC Company.  The job description indicates this position will report to the Accounting Manager but does not list their name.  You can search LinkedIn for this person by using the advanced search feature and type  “ABC Company” for the company name, “Senior Staff Accountant” for keywords and fill in the zip code where the company headquarters are located and click enter.

Stick to Your Usual Vocabulary

Hiring managers look for alignment of language and dates in prospective employees’ applications, resumes, and cover letters. Convey your integrity with word use that matches that in other application materials. Craft a cover letter that represents your communication style as well as business acumen by:

  • Integrating active verbs that you regularly use in verbal and written communication. Examples include:
    • Design
    • Analyze
    • Launch
  • These can be used in past, present, or future tense.

Cut Out Cover Letter Clichés

It’s okay to use clichés over coffee, but not in your cover letter. These off-handed phrases can slip into writing far too easily:

  • “You most likely know that…” or similar statement.
  • “Team player” or “heavy lifter.”
  • “Think outside the box” or “seasoned professional.”

Clichés do not describe your accomplishments. Give hiring managers what they want—concrete, specific details of your abilities, such as:

  • Led a team that streamlined financial analysis processes, saving a client 20% on accounting expenditures within six months.
  • Participated in a workplace wellness committee that contributed to a 10% decrease in absenteeism during its first year.

Stay Away from Flowery, Cutesy Language

Save flowery, fun communication for personal cards and letters. Prepare a professionally written cover letter that reveals your passion and enthusiasm for your work as you:

  • Describe your commitment to consumers’ success.
  • Summarize accomplishments that highlight your innovation.

Forget Flattery—Focus on Sincerity

Hiring managers are skilled at seeing through insincere language. They are confident professionals who trust their company’s services. Show your sincerity by describing your interest in the organization’s values and professional principles.

Please feel free”

End your cover letter with a clear and direct call-to-action. Don’t be gentle. Be confident and show the recruiter that you know you are right for the position by concluding with a more self-assured request for an in-person interview.