6 Phrases Employers Never Want To See In A Recent Grad's Cover Letter

After you’ve applied for a job, employers may ask you to send a cover letter.

Before you begin writing, stop and think about the high volume of candidates you’re up against.

Your submission has to stand out if you want to get an interview.

One of the best and simplest ways to do this is to delete the overused, filler cover letter phrases listed below.

Seeing these over and over again will immediately turn employers off your application.

1. “To Whom It May Concern”

Personalization will take your cover letter from an okay submission to a grade-A application.

After all, there’s a human reading on the other end, and you have to make that connection to get noticed.

Starting off your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” is impersonal and makes employers think you’re mass emailing your letter to any and all open positions.

To grab the employer’s attention, address your letter to the decision-makers in the company.

Googling a hiring manager or head of department involves minimal effort on your end, and it goes a long way.

If you can’t find the person you need to address, then a “To Whom It May Concern” isn’t bad.

But, you should still try to start your letter with something more detailed like, “To Company X Hiring Managers” or “To Company Y Marketing Department.”

It will show employers you put a little extra thought into your cover letter before clicking “send.”

2. “I’m a really hard worker.”

You may be the hardest worker the company has ever seen, but everyone uses this phrase while applying for a job.

It won't distinguish you from any other candidate.

Think of some of your more original traits, coupled with a story that proves you can do exactly what you say you can do.

An example: “When working at my last company, I used my creative marketing skills to increase monthly signups by 40 percent.”

3. “I think I would be a great fit.”

This phrase is wrong for two reasons.

The first is, this is yet another generic phrase that can be found in any cover letter.

However, the real reason we’ve mentioned it is because your cover letter is the time to sell yourself and to convince the employer you’re the best candidate he or she has ever come across.

Avoid using weak language like “I think,” “I hope” or “I wish,” and instead, take control of the hiring manager’s attention with strong, self-assured language.

For example: “This position speaks to my customer service and retention skills. My three years of experience in ed tech make me well-equipped to take on product testing and user experience at your company.”

Note that you shouldn’t be arrogant.

You can balance confidence and humility by showcasing your capabilities, while also talking up the company and its accomplishments to show the employer what an incredible opportunity this would be for you.

4. Avoid any mention of skills or qualifications unrelated to the position.

Did you read the job description?

Because that’s exactly what the employer will wonder when he or she sees you’ve listed out all your incredible skills that unfortunately have absolutely nothing to do with the position.

Map out the parts of the position that speak to your work experience or skill set, and then reflect your tailored qualifications in your cover letter.

It’s an added bonus to think of an impressive story that supports each of your points, as for why you’d be best for the position.

It comes across clearly and convincingly in your writing.

That doesn’t mean you actually need to tell a story for every qualification you list.

Remember: Your cover letter should be no longer than a page.

5. “I may not have a lot of experience, but… ”


If you’re a student or a recent grad, employers already know you don’t have a lot of experience up your sleeve.

Your cover letter should make them second-guess their underestimation, not confirm it.

Be confident in your abilities, and make sure it comes across in your writing.

You may have a lot of potential, but this is the time to talk about what you can bring to the table right now.

How will the company benefit from hiring you?

6. Avoid phrases that rehash your résumé.

Your cover letter isn’t the time to rattle off a list of the same accomplishments you mentioned on your résumé.

Instead, its purpose is to give the employer a more well-rounded version of who you are as a candidate.

It’s your extra edge, so use it to talk about an accomplishment that isn’t on your résumé.

As an alternative, you can elaborate or provide more information on a résumé bullet point if you think it needs more attention.

Use these tips to get your cover letter noticed, and you’ll be one step closer to landing your next job interview.

This article was written by Kema Christian-Taylor for WayUp.