use keywords

How to use keywords in your cover letter

Your cover letter is your opportunity to sell yourself to the recruiter. It gives you a chance to inject some personality into your application and show why you’re the perfect person for the job.

This means that it’s important to tailor your cover letter so it is specific for each and every job you’re applying for. Keywords can help with this and can be used to cater your application towards the job role and company.

If this sounds confusing, don’t fear! Below we explain how you can find and include the right keywords in your cover letter to help you out.

The benefits of using keywords

Think of keywords as your magic tool to help you tailor your cover letter. This is because when you use these words you’re including the specific language, skills and terminology the recruiter is looking for. All of this shows the hiring manager that you have the skills required for the role.

However, using these words not only ensures that the recruiter is noticing your cover letter, but Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) too. Recruiters can programme these systems to search for the keywords they want and this will pull up cover letters that match their preferences.

So if you don’t use keywords that the recruiter is after, you may fall at the first hurdle. To avoid this you need to use the right words to ensure your application makes it through the initial screening process.

How to choose the right keywords

Now you know that you need to use keywords, it’s time find the best ones for your application. The first step is to look at the job description. Here it will clearly tell you the skills the recruiter is looking for. This means that if they want someone who is a good communicator, you know to include this phrasing on your cover letter.

You could also look for inspiration on the employer’s website. Look for any pages that describe the company dynamic or values that are important. For example, if they mention teamwork quite a lot, you know to emphasise this on your cover letter.

Also, it should be noted that there are different types of keywords. The main two types are results-oriented and skills. Results-oriented keywords show off your accomplishments and achievements whereas skills keywords show off your personal traits and abilities. You should aim to use a combination of these on your application.

The most important part is to apply all these skills to yourself. Try making a list of your own skills and qualities and match these to the employer’s desires. It’s no good saying you’re an extroverted leader if this isn’t true – it’s important to be honest or you could be caught out at the interview.

How to add them to your cover letter

Keywords are not limited to one section of your cover letter; you need to use them throughout for maximum effect. This means you need to cater each paragraph to show off the words you’ve decided on. Doing so highlights to the recruiter that you’re suitable for the position and will show off your skills.

A handy tip is to write a plan for your cover letter first to ensure that you don’t miss anything. This can help you find a good flow and structure.  A common mistake is to try and use keywords as much as possible in the application. But this won’t impress the hiring manager. Especially if it looks too littered or random.

Here’s an example of how to use keywords:

‘I lead a team to increase the number of sales on the company’s new software development by 50%. I was responsible for planning and managing the project, which involved leading a team of 10. We had to build relationships with clients and come up with creative new strategies to sell the products.’

In the example, the keywords flow naturally to tell a story of how you used your skills. The recruiter can see that this candidate can successfully lead a team, build professional relationships and is creative. Use this method throughout your application to demonstrate how you’re proactive and practical in real life as well as on paper.

In summary

If you can apply these techniques to your cover letter, it ensures that you’ve created a perfectly tailored and effective way of grabbing the recruiters attention. While this can be difficult, spending the time on researching and planning your keywords will get you a long way.

When you’ve perfected your cover letter and are ready to get applying, why not check out the latest vacancies on CV-Library.

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