How to Write a Cover Letter: Keywords Can Make the Difference

Posted by: on Oct 9, 2012 | Tags: Cover letter advice, How to write a cover letter, job application cover letters, , , the best cover letters | No Comments
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Degrees2Dreams How to Write a Cover Letter by Tarja Ryhannen MitrovicEvery cover letter must contain one essential element: keywords that are important to the company you seek to join. How do you do that? Read on!If you want to learn how to prepare a cover letter, before setting pen to paper, or cursor to computer screen, you must thoroughly dissect everything you can find to give you insight into the “target” company and the specific job you hope to fill.

Read everything about the company you can find

Break down the job listing, scour the company mission statement, go to their “Press” page and read their releases, Google their CEO and read any speeches he or she has given.

Find and read anything that gives you insight into the company’s culture, vision and mission as well as insights into the expectations the hiring manager has for the job you’re seeking to get. You need to read it all, and then you need to read it all again. Internalize it.

Pay attention to words the company uses the most

As you read all the material, pay attention to the words, phrases, and ideas that the company seems to use the most. You are looking for the keys to their culture and their needs — the words and phrases that will resonate with the hiring manager when he or she is reading your cover letter (use the same keywords in the “Profile” section at the top of your resume and, where appropriate, in the descriptions of other jobs you’ve held).

In all of their material, your potential employer is telling you in carefully thought-out language everything you need to know about the company. These are the words and ideas you should employ in your cover letter (and your resume) as long as they truthfully apply to you!

Go beyond the job description, read their mission statement, too

The company’s About Page and the actual job description will describe the company culture, the characteristics of their employees, their work ethic.

In the job description, the company will lay out in great detail the duties and responsibilities they consider essential to success for the person they ultimately hire.

So as you draft your cover letter, take these words and phrases and apply them to yourself, and your talents and experiences. Employers love nothing more than to find applicants who share their values and have a track record of success in the areas of expertise they require for the job.

The employer is looking to hire someone who lives and breathes the organization’s culture. Your cover letter is a great way to reassure the employer you’re a good fit. You can only do that if you’ve studied the organization’s literature.

Lace your cover letter (and resume) with their own keywords

Integrate those keywords and keyword phrases into your cover letter (and resume) wherever they truthfully apply. This will make you look like an excellent match for their skill needs and an excellent fit in their company culture.

Finally, by matching your experience with their needs, you will be respecting the time and effort it took for them to create those detailed job descriptions in the first place. They spent hours meticulously wording each part of the job description because those are their needs. So pay attention to specifically how you are the answer to their needs.

Keywords help you beat the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

There is one very practical reason to include keywords in your resume. It’s call an ATS or Applicant Tracking System. This is a computer system that scans your resume before a human even lays eyes on it. If the computer doesn’t find the keywords the hiring manager has programmed into the algorithm, the computer will reject it and you and your candidacy are, as they say, “toast!” (Here’s a piece on how to beat an ATS!)

Get those keywords in your cover letter and your resume, and you should start getting replies to the inquiries you send out instead of having your application disappear into a black hole!

By Sam Tormey

John Wilpers

John Wilpers

Founder & CEO at Degrees2Dreams
I am the founder and CEO of Degrees2Dreams, a company I created to empower college students and recent grads to leverage the power of social media to build a rewarding, fulfilling, fun career. I have been working in media for forty years, and continue to speak and consult with media companies around the world, including newspapers and magazines in Norway, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Washington, England, Korea, The Ukraine, Austria, and others. Prior to launching Degrees2Dreams, I worked with major media companies including the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor,, The Miami Herald, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and BostonNOW. I have also been the editor of multiple online city sites in AOL’s Digital City network. Outside of publishing, I am the founder of a self-esteem building soccer program that has graduated 4,000 girls since 1996 ( I am also a long-board surfer, and have performed as “Mother Ginger” in a Boston production of “The Nutcracker” for the last 15 years. My wife of 36 years and I live in Marshfield, MA with my two daughters.
John Wilpers

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