You only have 10 seconds to grab an employer’s attention and you don’t want to waste it by being negative and unoriginal, according to experts.
You only have 10 seconds to grab an employer’s attention and you don’t want to waste it by being negative and unoriginal, according to experts.

Avoid these words in your cover letter

Don't reinforce negativity in your cover letter if you are serious about nailing the job.

Jackie Rahilly, director of Brisbane-based recruitment firm Appoint, said her number one tip for prospective candidates was to remain upbeat.

"Be positive. Check your letter for any negative wording such as 'I've never', 'I don't', 'I can't', 'I won't', 'didn't like', etc."

Employers want a positive person in the workplace and that needs to come through on the cover letter before they will even employ you.

"Most employers want an employee to be positive, flexible and adaptable to change. Using those words does not give the right impression," Ms Rahilly said.

You have less than 10 seconds to grab their attention, Ms Rahilly says, so make sure you use it effectively with a killer first line.

"Have an awesome opening sentence to make them want to read on. Spend some time crafting it so that it makes the right impression and sets the tone," she said.

Ms Rahilly has seen candidates address the wrong person and reusing cover letters throughout her decade-long career.

She told news.com.au that the best advice she could give candidates was to be positive by removing negative words like "never" and "don't" that have no place in a cover letter.

"Also inject your personality yet be professional. Slang, being overly familiar or too 'cute' are unlikely to do you any favours," Ms Rahilly said.

While the letter should be professional, it should also take on the tone of the workplace - a legal firm's language will be very different to a start-up's, for instance.

"Find the right tone for your letter. You should always write in the company's voice," Ms Rahilly said.

She said job seekers needed to remember the basics to get around the bots and also show employers they could focus on a task at hand.

"If you say you have a 'high attention to detail' make sure that is evident across your letter. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors have no place in any cover letter, but even more importantly when you claim to care about detail."

Remain upbeat and positive to stand out in the crowd.
Remain upbeat and positive to stand out in the crowd.

Leah Lambart, career and interview coach with Relaunch Me, agreed with Ms Rahilly and said the first few lines of the cover letter were crucial.

"You have six to 10 seconds to capture the attention of a recruiter, therefore they don't have time to read two pages of long paragraphs," she said.

Ms Lambart has more than 17 years' experience working in recruitment and more than 2000 coaching hours and spends her time coaching clients to think like a recruiter.

Ms Lambart said some simple ways to capture a recruiter's attention included basic formatting.

"I recommend using bold headings and some bullet points as well as plenty of white space. Make it easy for recruiters to read and, ideally, you want the keywords to jump off the page to capture their attention," she said.

The cover letter is the most important part of a job application no matter how tempting it can be to just click easy apply on sites like LinkedIn.

LinkedIn easy apply can be deceptive and you should steer clear.
LinkedIn easy apply can be deceptive and you should steer clear.

"I believe that candidates should always include a cover letter even with the easy apply option. If they are only able to upload one document then they can include the cover letter as the first page of the document," Ms Lambart told news.com.au.

Ms Lambart said her reasoning behind that was because a CV reflected a static view of work history, while a cover letter was more personal and directly addressed the company's need.

"The cover letter provides the opportunity to explain why you really want to work for this particular company and to show a match of skills, experience and values," she said.

The cover letter was also a chance to explain any CV gaps or unusual moves, particularly if seeking a role in another city.

"The cover letter is the ideal format to explain any detail in regard to relocation. Recruiters will often discount candidates based on location so take the time to explain why you are planning the move," Ms Lambart said.

Just as you need to start strong, Ms Rahilly said it was equally important to finish in the same way.

"Finish strong. Drive home the fact that you really want this job and why you're highly suited to it," she said.



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