A couple of cover letter use:

  • I believe that I could ..
  • I am confident
  • I am very interested

What do you think about them? Should they be mentioned with evidences or avoid since they are feelings and may indicate uncertainty?

  • 1
    How does I am confident that ... indicate uncertainty? Dec 6, 2014 at 17:43
  • I mean that they are feelings of a stranger, so does they matter?
    – Thomas Lee
    Dec 6, 2014 at 17:44
  • 1
    You're a human, not an emotionless robot - if you're really interested in something, then say so. Just don't express over-the-top enthusiasm in every sentence.
    – Moriarty
    Dec 6, 2014 at 17:48
  • I agree, but I think this could matter from region/country to other.
    – Thomas Lee
    Dec 6, 2014 at 17:52
  • You should consider how the person reading it will use the information. Dec 6, 2014 at 18:29

3 Answers 3


Personally, I think your sentence fragments all suggest both a lack of evidence and a lack of confidence. But more importantly, I think you're simply asking the wrong question.

Instead of focusing on the detailed language of your cover letter, focus on the content. Who are you? What have you done? What makes you an asset to your target departments? Instead of expressing your interests, demonstrate your accomplishments and your vision. Instead of stating your beliefs or your confidence, show the reader clear evidence of your expertise and your impact. Show, don't tell.

The advice that I give my own students and colleagues when they apply for graduate school or for jobs or for tenure is to aim for the next target.

  • Graduate applications should not say "Please admit me" but rather "I will become an independent researcher. Let me get on with it."

  • Thesis proposals should not say "Please let me pass" but rather "I will have a strong PhD thesis. Let me get on with it."

  • Thesis defenses should not say "Please let me graduate" but rather "I will get an academic job. Let me get on with it."

  • Job talks should not say "Please hire me" but rather "I will get tenure. Let me get on with it."

  • Tenure packages should not say "Please give me tenure" but rather "I will be a full professor. Let me get on with it."

And the way each application should "say" its message is not by stating your interest or belief or intention or confidence that you'll pass the next stage, but by presenting clear and compelling evidence that you'll pass the next stage. And of course you never want to actually suggest the impatience implicit in the phrase "Let me get on with it"; rather, you want to convince your audience to let you get on with it.

Don't try to convince that reader that you believe that you'll be successful. Make the reader believe that you'll be successful. Show the reader that you will be successful.


There is nothing inherently wrong with expressing your feelings in a cover letter. Your feelings, however, are not generally useful information for the reader of your letter: they don't know you, and so what basis to they have for evaluating how your feelings relate to your likelihood of making a good addition to the department?

As such, statements about feelings are generally low-value at best, and can be problematic if they are expressed in a way that causes people to have doubts about you. You don't have to pretend that you're a robot: it's fine to say something like "I find the interdisciplinary opportunities of this position exciting." Just know that it's an inherently low-content statement, and that more value will come from the places where you show more concrete evidence of your connections and value for the position that you are applying for.

  • I agree to some extent, but all applicants are very excited about any position, so maybe it is better to avoid feelings which could show a graduate student mentality more than a senior mature candidate.
    – Thomas Lee
    Dec 6, 2014 at 19:48
  • 1
    @ThomasLee I think it's all in what you're excited about and how you express it: "I am excited to apply" = junior, "I am excited about the particular opportunities of this program for these reasons" = more mature.
    – jakebeal
    Dec 6, 2014 at 20:01

The listed phrases don't necessarily convey uncertainty. Infact, if supported with evidence, they can become strong leading points into reading about your experiences and skills.

For example, consider the following statements in your cover letter:

  1. I believe that I can give the a different dimension with my skill set because I have been awarded .

This interests the recruiter as (s)he would be interested in knowing how you can bring new dimension to the job and what special skills you possess that makes you stand out from the crowd.

  1. I am confident that I have which I believe is essential for the role as I have had (say) over 5 years of experience in this field with honours.

This would again intrigue the recruiter to believe your confidence (if it is ofcourse supported with solid evidence!)

  1. I am very interested in the because I believe that having already done , this role can help me develop my career in the field in the following ways and in turn I can help the organisation grow .

The recruiter would be interested in your past experience and look to understand how you can grow and make the business grow.

I hope that the examples are adequately clear.

  • I agree, but as I mentioned earlier that avoiding feelings could make more sense, look at: The Worst Job Letter Ever Written (Not really…) theprofessorisin.com/2012/09/28/…
    – Thomas Lee
    Dec 6, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    Downvoted. Given the focus of this site, OP must be asking about academic job searches (or else the question is off-topic. Academic job searches don't use recruiters, and adacemic search committees generally aren't looking for employees to "make the business grow"
    – JeffE
    Dec 6, 2014 at 20:27

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