10 WORDS AND PHRASES THAT ARE KILLING YOUR COVER LETTER
For creative writing, Joyce Carol Oates got it right when she advised, "Be daring, take on anything." But when you are trying to make a good first impression on you future boss, concision and confidence sets a qualified applicant apart from one who doesn't sound sure of her own experience.
Empty words steal power from your writing
Notes that people often use fluff words and phrases that turn off prospective employers and that you should always read through letters aloud to catch empty phrases.
Cutting after you have a rough draft of the letter is essential, and here are some words and phrases to help you make your writing lean and efficient:
- "I THINK" The employer knows you think it because you've written it down. Cut it and all variants such as I believe, I suggest,etc.
- "I FEEL" Similar to the above, your reader already knows this, and it adds hesitancy to your language.
- "IN THE CITY OF..." If you name the city "San Francisco," "in the city" of is just empty language.
- "IN THE MONTH OF..." Same principle as number 3, you are stating the obvious.
- "REALLY/VERY" These are supposed to intensify, but they actually are overused and end up meaning nothing. Pick a powerful adjective and you will sound more potent.
- "Always/Never" These and other absolutes are rarely accurate, and therefore weaken your writing.
- "THINGS" Referring to things is referring to nothing because you're not specific. State specific items instead.
- "THE FACT THAT..." This phrase makes you repeat yourself - you state that this is a fact and then you state the fact. Simply state it as a fact and cut the phrase.
- "ALL EXCESS ADVERBS" This is a rule that both Ernest Hemingway and E.B. White emphasized. Lots of adverbs simply mean that you are using weak verbs and descriptions. Cut most -ly ending and other adverbs.
- "CLICHES" Cliches are overused words and phrases that have been repeated so much that they lose all meaning. Cut "in the nick of time" and "by the skin of my teeth" and every other phrase that you've heard a million times.
Darin's notes: I find great power in advice that encourages me to trim down. We almost always overwrite, cluttering our language with unnecessary words. I usually cut almost half of a story or letter I write.
We use filler language, usually to sound important, but we accomplish the opposite. Other words to look out for: to be verbs, there, it, you, which, and that. Choose power verbs, nouns, and descriptors.
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Source is FastCompany.com
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