Today’s Solutions: April 17, 2024

Looking for a job? A simple Google search will yield a plethora of inspiration in the form of sample elevator pitches, résumés, cover letters, and interview responses.

But be cautious! Some of these instances feature terminology that will hinder your ability to portray the confidence you’ll need at each stage of your search. Even if you write everything up on your own, you may come across as less confident than you intend to.

Examine your phrasing carefully to ensure that you present yourself as a confident applicant. Edit out the following sayings that make you appear less qualified:

I wanted to reach out to you

This well-known statement appears at the start of many job-search emails. The candidate could be addressing the letter to a networking contact, a recruiter, or a hiring manager. So, what’s the problem with this phrase?

Firstly, it is written in the past tense (“wanted”) instead of the present tense (“want”). It’s as though the candidate has changed their mind and no longer wants to communicate. Or that they are too nervous to show that they are actually reaching out. According to Wharton professor Jonah Berger, using the past tense is always less convincing than using the present tense.

It is also worth noting that the verb “want” comes across as weak. It refers to intent rather than action and thus makes the job seeker seem unconcerned about what they are doing. Following this logic, it is advisable to eliminate intentional verbs such as “wish,” “think,” “feel,” and “hope.” “I am reaching out to you because…” is a better way to start a letter.

I am a manager

Saying you’re a manager is weaker than describing the work you’ve done in that role. In fact, this applies to any position you’ve had– it’s always better to talk about what you’ve accomplished rather than the title you had.

Substitute verbs for nouns whenever possible. Instead of “I’m an IT manager,” use “As an IT specialist, I lead a team that delivers results for our global clients.”

Better yet, give numbers: “As an IT specialist, I oversee a team that has delivered four new infrastructure programs for our global clients.” Then, you have an opportunity to explain these programs’ impacts.

I’m looking for a job

You’re obviously looking for work, otherwise you wouldn’t be contacting a potential employer or recruiter. However, saying so implies that you have searched and have come up empty-handed. When you say, “I’ve been looking,” you generate a similar impression. Both phrases have a frustrated undertone.

No company wants a job seeker who has sifted through a slew of job postings. Don’t highlight the fact that you’ve been looking for the right employment. Every employer wants to believe that a job seeker has specifically targeted their company, so it’s better to remove this phrase from your script.

I am interested in the role

Saying you’re interested in an advertised position won’t cut it. It simply does not inspire. Separate yourself from the crowd by exciting the reader with language that demonstrates your enthusiasm for the posted position. Include phrases such as “love,” “excited,” “enthusiastic,” “committed,” and “believe.”

For example, “I love the idea of assisting your company in building its brand.” “I am excited about this position because it will allow me to expand on my extensive background in HR leadership.”

I admire your company

It’s fine to express you admire the company with which you’re interviewing but don’t stop there. If you do, it seems like a general compliment that you use with every company.

It’s important to express why you admire this company in particular. Perhaps it has a stellar reputation for customer service, is a market leader, or has a welcoming atmosphere. Be precise about your admiration. 

You’ll need to conduct extensive study to demonstrate why you respect the hiring organization, but that research will reflect highly on you as a great candidate.

I’m not sure

Job seekers can be tempted to undercut themselves when gaps in their experience or doubts about how prepared they are for the position come up. However, it’s best to resist the urge to do this.

Don’t phrase things like: “Although I’ve been out of the job market for three years…” or “Even though I have no experience with international banking…” because such expressions will undermine the impression you are attempting to make.

Furthermore, do not convey any reservations about your knowledge of the role for which you are applying. Saying things like, “I’m not sure how this role would support the team,” or “I’m not sure I could accept that salary,” makes you appear hesitant.  Instead, keep any doubts to yourself. If you do have uncertainties, say something like, “I am excited to learn how this role will help the team” or “I will consider that salary and get back to you.”

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