Cover Letter Mistake: Wordiness

Cover Letter Mistake Wordiness

A common weakness of cover letters is wordiness. Wordiness or verbosity occurs when we use more words than are required.

Cover letters are prone to verbosity because we often try to sound formal and intelligent. Also, in attempting to emphasise our achievements we can overstate. The result is a confusing and ineffective cover letter.

Wordy Cover Letter Example

To demonstrate, I found this Executive Assistant cover letter from ResumeLab.

ResumeLab is an online resume builder that helps you to create a resume with pre-written content. They also offer examples and ready-to-use templates for cover letters.  For example, this cover letter for an Executive Assistant position.

The biggest weakness of this cover letter is the verbosity of the writing.

Here is an example:

With my 5+ years of experience as an executive assistant, I am confident in my ability to manage complex travel schedules while maintaining a high level of confidentiality for senior level executives for McKesson Corporation.


You can say the same with less words:

As an Executive Assistant with five years of experience, I will confidently manage complex and confidential travel schedules for McKesson Corporation senior executives.

The strongest paragraph from the cover letter is the one below. The strength of this paragraph comes from providing specific and quantified examples of the applicant’s previous success.

Unfortunately, however, the impact is lost due to poor writing. While it may be grammatically correct, the awkward phrasing and unnecessary words make the paragraph difficult to follow.

Remember, your cover letter is a demonstration of your communication skills.  Therefore, you need to write clearly and concisely. 

Here is the paragraph:

In my current position with Children’s HealthCare of Atlanta, I manage all aspects of scheduling for 5 top level executives and provide assistance to them regarding various administrative duties, including the creation and design of high-level PowerPoint presentations. I also analyzed the company’s office supply expenditures and negotiated new terms to save a minimum of $10 per ream of copy paper. My changes helped bring administrative costs down 28% through a five-year period


Here is an improved version:

As Executive Assistant at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, I manage scheduling for five senior executives and assist with administrative duties, including creating PowerPoint presentations for executive-level audiences. My achievements include reducing administrative costs by 28% over five years. For example, I analysed office supply expenditure and negotiated to save a minimum of $10 per ream of copy paper.

The original version uses 73 words and the updated version only 59. Despite using fewer words, there is improved cohesion in the paragraph and more detail has been added.  

Additional Notes

These improvements were made:

  • Replaced ‘high-level presentations’ with more meaningful description. It would be best if you avoided empty descriptors like ‘high-level’. Instead, provide additional detail that lets the reader know the significance. For example, if ‘high level’ means the presentations were delivered to an executive audience, state that. Or, if the presentations were technically complex, you should explain that.
  • Added transitions and reordered points. You should help the reader move through the paragraph with transitions. A transition is a word or phrase that connects one idea to another.
  • Updated ‘my current position’ to Executive Assistant. By using your role title, you provide helpful context to the reader and also assist with ATS scanning
  • Resolved verbose writing. Replaced ‘provide assistance to them regarding various administrative duties’ with a more concise ‘assist with administrative duties’
  • Spelled out five. Whole numbers smaller than ten should be spelled out
  • Incorporated stronger language.  For example, ‘achievements’

Another Example

Here is another example of cover letter wordiness from ResumeGenius. This one is a Copywriter cover letter.

The first line reads:

I’m writing to you in hopes of applying to the recent copywriter position I saw on [Website Name].


This is an awkwardly phrased opening.  The writer is not hoping to apply, they are applying. That is the purpose of the cover letter.

This can be more simply stated as:

I wish to apply for the Copywriter position I saw on [Website Name]. 

The second paragraph is similarly wordy:

While pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at Sacramento State, I have developed strong compositional and editing skills, as well as an eye for detail. I served as assistant editor for the university newspaper and have been involved in two separate and independent non-fiction and journalistic magazines. I also served as an intern for the Jelly Belly company, where my responsibilities included copyediting and writing support.


Compared to:

Completing my journalism degree at Sacramento State, I developed an eye for detail and strong compositional and editing skills. I was Assistant Editor for the university newspaper and was involved in two independent non-fiction and journalistic magazines. Additionally, I interned for the Jelly Belly company, providing copyediting and writing support.

The third paragraph in contrast has too few words. As with the previous cover letter the strongest content is the past achievements provided. In this cover letter however, very little information is given. The dot points fail to provide the required context and results to make them meaningful.

Take this first example:

Writing 19 articles for the Sacramento State university newspaper

As the reader, I am wondering:

Why was this significant? Is 19 a lot of articles to write? Over what time period? Was this a difficult accomplishment, why? Are the articles good? What were they about? Did they receive any feedback? What was the purpose or impact, and did they achieve this?

This is where the words need to be. Explaining these achievements.  This is the content that will convince a potential employer to interview you ahead of other applicants.

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