If you are, or soon will be thinking about sending out your resume, then today’s post is for you.
At this point most jobseekers realize the importance of including keywords in their resume, but the cover letter is often overlooked. It pays to remember that the cover letter is actually the first thing a potential employer is going to see, so when writing yours, make sure every single word counts.
The ultimate goal of the cover letter is the same as the resume. All employers have problems that they need solved and your job is to show them why you are the one who can solve them. The judicious use of keywords can go a long way towards achieving this goal. In fact, with the advent of applicant tracking systems (ATS) keywords will help your cover letter in two distinct ways.
First, the tracking software will pick up on them, allowing your application to make it through the initial screening. Second, once an actual human reads your cover letter it will set the stage for your resume, highlighting your skills and accomplishments.
Ultimately you need to show potential employers 3 key attributes- your skills, how you get results, and how you have been recognized in your field.
Show Your Skill
It is important to show the hiring manager that you have the skills that he is looking for. Pay close attention to the job description and try to match your skills as closely as possible to what they are looking for. Words like wrote, analyzed, planned, programmed, designed, created, built, taught and trained are all good skill keywords you should use in your resume.
What Really Matters Are Results
Explaining you have the appropriate skills is great. Showing you can take those skills and get results is better. Always keep in mind that every employer is trying to solve a problem of some kind. If you can show you have solved similar problems in the past, then he is more likely to have confidence you can solve his now. Focus on terms like increased, reduced, redesigned, upgraded, initiated, implemented, reformulated, generated and produced. Writing a good cover letter is a lot like writing a good story, and it is always better to show than just tell.
Let Your Accomplishments Shine
Once you have established that you have the skills required and you have put them to use, it is time to show off a little. It is one thing to claim you have what an employer is looking for; it is another to prove it by showing how you have been recognized for your successes. Do not shy away from terms like honored, awarded, promoted, selected, received a bonus for, recognized, chosen and credited. Words like these show that previous employers valued what you brought to their organizations and tell hiring committees that you are someone who can be trusted to help them in the future.
So now you have some concrete examples of keywords that you can use in your cover letter. Not applying for a new job any time soon? That’s OK to, because I am sure you know someone who is. Share with a friend. Your humble resume writing professional will thank you.