This article was updated on July 14, 2021.
If you’re applying for a new career, most employers will request a cover letter in addition to your resume.
Since most hiring managers receive hundreds of job applications, you have a tiny window to make an impression.
The truth is, most managers only briefly scan the documents you provide unless you can grab their attention.
In your efforts to get the attention of the hiring manager, here is the one phrase you should never include in a cover letter plus one additional bonus phrase, which should be avoided at all costs.
What’s the purpose of a cover letter?
Many job applicants fail to understand the significance of a cover letter. The cover letter offers insight into your writing ability, reading comprehension skills, as well as the way you structure your thoughts. Instead of copy and pasting a cover letter template you found on the internet, take the time to craft a unique and purpose-driven letter to give yourself the best chance of landing the job.
The cover letter may be the only opportunity you have of making an excellent first impression. Because this letter should be unique and original, it can be more impactful than your resume. Hiring managers know most people inflate their experience on their resume to the cover letter is a more personal insight into the potential employee’s abilities.
This document allows you to relate your skills and qualifications to the hiring manager in a more personal format. Rather than stating your ability to effectively manage a team, you can write a short paragraph about your experience and an actual situation or problem you overcame.
Use your cover letter to explain these main points
- The intent is to clearly show you have done your homework and have knowledge about the company and the job position
- Display how your skills have been used in past situations and how you will use these experiences in the new position
- Expand upon the information contained in your resume
Power phrases you should include in your cover letter
Before we present the one phrase you should never use in a cover letter, let’s cover a couple of power phrases to help you stand out from the crowd.
- “After reading your mission statement, I am even more excited about this position because it aligns with my ideas and objectives”
- “Last year, I was tasked with a few challenges. A few examples of how I overcame these obstacles include…”
- “If I am offered this position, I will be ready to hit the ground running”
The above power phrases will show you have thoroughly researched the company, give you the ability to provide real-world examples, and provide your willingness to jump right into the position. These three main points are critical to include in a powerful cover letter.
This is the one phrase you should never include on a cover letter
- “To whom it may concern”
The vast majority of applicants are going to include this phrase at the top of their cover letters. This is an extremely impersonal greeting and the first impression you will give to the hiring manager.
The impression you give with this introduction is: you’re lazy.
If the job application doesn’t list a contact person, almost all candidates will include this phrase. If you want to stand out from the crowd, do some digging and research who the hiring manager is. Do online research or call the Human Resources Department to find out the hiring manager’s name.
By taking the extra time to make your cover letter personal, you will give yourself a significant advantage over the other applicants.
Bonus: avoid this additional phrase in your cover letter
- “I’m confident I’m the perfect person for the job,” or any similar phrase
This phrase comes across as cocky and arrogant. It’s not up to you to decide if you’re the perfect person for the job; it’s the hiring manager. Avoid any phrases that suggest you think you will get the job or are looking forward to working for the company.