How to Use Keywords in Your Cover Letters
When you are writing a cover letter, it's important to make sure that every word counts. Your cover letters should enhance the employer's appreciation of your qualifications so you can move from applicant to interviewee.
Keywords are a vital element of a persuasive cover letter which portrays the candidate as a highly qualified applicant for the job. These words fall into three general categories: skill words, results-oriented words, and words which show recognition for achievements.
Keywords work in a couple of different ways. First, the keywords you include in your resume and cover letter will be used to match your application with the skills required by the employer. Secondly, keywords that are incorporated into a cover letter will show the hiring manager how and why you are highly qualified for the job.
Job seekers should carefully analyze the skills required to excel in their target job and incorporate them into their cover letter. Those keywords should also be included in your resume. It will be more genuine if you paraphrase the skills mentioned in job ads as opposed to listing them verbatim. Skill words are most effective when connected to a specific role or project where the skills were crucial to success.
For example, instead of saying "Quantitative stock analysis is an asset which I would bring to your firm." you could say "I utilized quantitative stock valuation techniques to create a portfolio for high net worth clients which beat the market for three consecutive years."
The skills keywords included in your cover letters (and your resume) will help your application get selected by the software employers use to select candidates for further consideration. They will also show the hiring manager, at first glance, what skills you have that are related to the job he or she is hiring for.
Examples of skill keywords include wrote, analyzed, quantified, planned, programmed, designed, created, built, taught and trained.
Results Oriented Keywords
All employers are looking for employees who will add value and generate positive results for their organization. That's why it's critical to integrate results-oriented language into your cover letters. Think about the bottom line for each job on your resume and how you might have made things better in your role.
Your cover letter should showcase your accomplishments, not just your skills or personal qualities. Results oriented words are most effective when coupled with some numbers which quantify your impact as in "I reduced turnover amongst first-year hires by 20% by implementing a mentoring system." By using these types of keywords you are clearing showing what you accomplished in your previous roles.
Examples of results-oriented keywords include: increased, reduced, redesigned, upgraded, initiated, implemented, reformulated, generated and produced.
Hiring managers will be more likely to believe that you will be an outstanding performer if it is clear that previous employers have viewed you in this way. One way to do this is to incorporate language which demonstrates that employers have recognized your contributions.
Ideally, recognition phrases will include the type of individual who noted your achievement and the basis for your recognition. For example, one might say "I was designated as the team leader for the budget reduction task force by my Division Vice President based on my previous record of accruing cost savings." Recognition keywords attest to how you have excelled in your previous jobs and how you have accomplished more than was required.
Examples of recognition related keywords include honored, awarded, promoted, selected, lauded for, received a bonus for, recognized, chosen and credited.
- List of Resume and Cover Letter Keywords
- Keywords Lists for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Job Applications