The cover letter is a major headache for most applicants. What has to go in, what scares HR managers off, and how do they stand out from the crowd? There are plenty of formulation tips and templates, but these are often full of empty phrases and empty words. And so most applications today sound boring and read like chewing gum. Cross out these empty phrases in your application and make better use of the limited space for what the reader should really learn about you.
I recently caused a stir with my extremely honest cover letter, but also received a lot of approval – by the way from applicants as well as HR professionals. For me, it was about showing the edge as an applicant, about real clarity, and about making yourself tangible for a new employer. But showing the edge doesn’t work with empty phrases, so the following applies: less is more! Here is a selection of the most popular phrases I often read in applications – and I’m sure some of them are hidden in your application:
Empty phrases that you should avoid in your application
I hereby apply for the position advertised in the XING job exchange as…
Yes, the first sentence is the most headache. “I can’t just fall in with the door!” Many applicants tell me about coaching. Just as popular as an introductory phrase:
I read your job advertisement with great interest and am therefore applying to you.
That’s nice. Not only do you inform your new employer where you found out about the position online, but you also make it clear that you are interested in the position. What! Just a glance at the subject line reveals which position it is about. An entry without informational content that you can actually save yourself.
You can drop the door in the house. The first sentence of your application should be right and make you want to read on. Write about your real motivation, what attracts you at this point or why this particular employer is attractive to you. Honestly, straight ahead, without stilted flourishes and something soaked between the lines.
You are one of the world’s leading companies in the field of … and are particularly characterized by…
Applicants have learned that it goes down well when they show that they have dealt intensively with their new employer. So they quote in their application letters what they have discovered great about the culture and values, the strategy, or the future visions on the company website. And as if by coincidence, everything fits in with your own values and career goals:
I’ve always wanted to work for an international market leader who…
It goes without saying that you as an applicant should find out more about the company. In the conversation, you will have plenty of opportunities to exchange ideas about the products, the corporate strategy, or the corporate culture. And: How great your employer is – or not, the HR manager or your future boss knows himself.
So don’t waste tight space in your cover letter writing about something that is of no news to the reader. Also: sloppiness is ingratiating and makes you as an applicant small.
Job advertisement phrases
Are you looking for an assertive and resilient personality with a desire for new challenges? Then I am the right one for you!
You may have heard about it: Some companies have incoming applications scanned for keywords and sort them out in the first round. So, the more keywords you add to your application from the job advertisement, the better. One might think.
From an employer’s point of view, I not only rate this approach as inhuman and questionable in terms of the quality of the selection, but I also believe that this tactic will make your application even more meaningless and interchangeable. Because anyone can parrot.
Again, don’t write about anything the reader already knows. There is no evidence to show that you can read and copy. And you should also save yourself the assessment that you are the right person for the job. Firstly because you would not have applied otherwise and secondly because it is now the turn of the other side to evaluate your application.
Ability to work in a team and good communication skills round off my profile.
Are you a team player? And can you speak or write emails on top of that? Well, if that doesn’t particularly qualify you for this job! Yes, I know, exactly these empty phrases are also in every job advertisement as a requirement for the ideal candidate. But who says that you have to play ping-pong?
I read this “round off my profile” in almost every application. I wonder why it is so attractive to have a well-rounded profile. This expression, given out of habit, symbolizes exactly what I find fault with many applications: soft-washed items without a profile.
Instead, describe what exactly makes you a team player or good communicator. What role do you like to take on in the team, or how can your future boss notice that you are a team player? What are you good at communicating? Are you good at presenting, do you find it easy to write texts or are you a talented phone operator? Put an end to empty phrases and make yourself more tangible.
Could I convince you with my application?
Whenever I read these and similar closed questions at the end of an application, a “no” is on the tip of my tongue. I not only find it dangerous to put such questions in the head of the reader of your application but you also implicitly question whether you were able to “convince”. As great as the rest of your application is, that question makes you small.
A good application leads to as few questions as possible that the HR manager or your future boss asks while reading. The best thing to do is to refrain from asking questions in the cover letter.
No more empty phrases in the application! Show your profile with an edge
Go through your application sentence by sentence. What do you write, and what do you actually want to express? Can you get to the heart of what is important to you? Do you reveal something about yourself or do you hide behind general phrases?
It is not the most impressive choice of words, the most complicated sentence structures, and the most serious German that lead to the goal, but rather the reader’s desire to get to know you better as a human being.