Job Applications: 7 Excruciating Clichés to Avoid

Recruitment consultants and HR people read a lot of applications and see the same phrases day in, day out, on application after application. You want your application to feel fresh and original, not inspire a sigh of apathy from them. You can do this by avoiding the following six phrases in your application:

‘I’m passionate about…’

It’s good to be passionate about something, but unfortunately, it can also make you sound as if you’re trying to win a beauty contest rather than apply for a job. People in charge of hiring see this line so many times that the content must be really well considered or original in some way if it’s to hold their attention.

‘I’m highly motivated’

You might be, but then so are all the other applicants. More importantly, the person reading the letter would expect you to be motivated. They’re not going to be willing to employ someone who is constantly late or who bolts for the door as soon as it’s time to clock off. Leave this one out of your application.

‘I’m enthusiastic’

The person conducting the interviews will be able to tell this when they meet you, so you don’t need to mention it in your application. It’s good news that you’re enthusiastic, but the employer will be looking for someone who will do the job well. They’re interested in your skills more than they are your levels of enthusiasm.

‘I think outside of the box’

Put this in your application and you automatically damage your own credibility. Lots of people refer to themselves as being thinkers ‘outside of the box’ in their applications, so you’re not saying anything original. Presenting your application in a different way to the rest — now that’s outside-of-the-box thinking.

‘I’m an effective communicator’

Perhaps you are, but this is too vague. Describe how you communicate effectively. Maybe you can explain things clearly to other people and not use jargon. Maybe you communicate ideas to staff effectively so that things run smoothly. You need to communicate this effectively on paper, spell it out for the reader. Examples always work well.

‘I am responsible for…’

Being responsible for something could imply anything, so as with the point above, outline your duties clearly. Avoid the phrase ‘responsible for’, of course, and replace it with clearer statements such as ‘I coordinate the Creative team’ or ‘I review the production process each month’ or whatever duties are relevant to your role.

There’s lots of competition out there, so you want to rid your application of clichés and stand out. Do this by avoiding the phrases above and provide potential employers with something fresh that makes them sit up and take notice — and more importantly, something which persuades them to reach for the phone and invite you to an interview.

By Peter Jenkins