Keywords Are Key in Your Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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A cover letter is your personal story of why you want the job you seek. Yet this seemingly simple document must be fine-tuned to serve its intended purpose. Include several eye-catching cover letter keywords to get noticed, land the all-important interview and wow your future boss.

Alissa Strong of Seattle University's career services department suggests using verbiage from the job description as cover letter keywords. Find action verbs, unique words and adjectives from the original job description, and weave them into your story. When the job description calls for someone who "relies on pertinent sales skills to enhance customer service interactions," definitely write "rely" and "enhance" somewhere in your cover letter.

Convert job description verbiage into action verbs. If the job description states "must have great verbal communication skills," outline in one sentence precisely why you communicate well with others. For instance, relate how you "communicated frequently with my team members regarding the vital Smith project that earned Acme a multimillion dollar contract." The cover letter keyword and job description word still match thanks to "communicated" and "communication." HR managers prefer action verbs to passive voice because they show someone is motivated and ready to work.

Describe how you fit with the company. This means take cover letter keyword concepts and make them personal. Write a short, personal story about what drives you. For example, if you interview for a car sales position with the largest car lot in town, explain how you and your dad spent a few hours every Saturday afternoon maintaining the family car as a child. The story relates why you like cars and why automobiles are a passionate part of your existence thanks to fond childhood memories. This passion translates into sales dollars for your manager. Cover letter writing is both a personalized art form and a science.

Do your life goals and aspirations match that of the company? Read the firm's mission statement, and pull a few cover letter keywords from that document. If the company believes "human connections lead to dynamic interactions," then write about how you connect and interact with people on a regular basis.

Most importantly, be honest and sincere with your cover letter writing. Use vital keywords without embellishing or fabricating facts about yourself that are not true. In normal conversation with your friends, you might brag about how you brought in $4 million in a week to the investment firm. In a cover letter, write about how you "assisted my supervisor every day to finalize one of the largest client contracts in the company's history." Both statements are important and true. However, the second one is more precise and serves its purpose better for cover letter verbiage and keyword usage.

Cover letter keywords enhance a vital step of the job-seeking process. Like your resume and job interview, everything you say in a cover letter must be precise and relevant in order to stand out from the crowd. Keywords give you an edge over other candidates.


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