Keywords have become king when it comes to writing both CVs and cover letters. This is really due to the fact that nearly every single job application is submitted via email and therefore easily formatted by sophisticated software used by recruiters to filter out the good from the bad applications. Recruiters and HR managers frequently use software to scan CVs and cover letters for keywords in order to speed up the traditionally tedious process of reading each and every CV that finds its way into their inbox.
A new lease of life for cover letters
Cover letters were steadily developing a reputation for being stuffy, unnecessary and rather pointless in the eyes of many recruiters. But with scanning software, recruiters have found a new way to use cover letters to their advantage. Simply put, the software reads the cover letter or rather the cover letter's keywords, decides if it makes the cut, then filters them into the 'read' or 'bin' pile. This way, recruiters know almost immediately whether a CV is worth their time reading or not.
It is true that many still choose to bypass the cover letter, instead jumping straight to the CV – a process that can be achieved at the simple click of a button. However, there are still a large number of recruiters who view the cover letter as extremely important, so it is best to be safer than sorry, and put in the effort to create an engaging cover letter with useful keywords.
Avoid keywords at your peril!
While it may not be quite as important as before; the implications of omitting keywords from a cover letter or CV can be extremely high. They can be the difference between your CV and cover letter being thrown in the trash folder or having an actual chance of getting the job. The key to getting past these scanners is to look at the prominent words in the job description and make sure you use them in both your CV and cover letter.
Recruiters may be using a spellcheckers and specialised keyword scanners to filter your cover letters and CVs, but if you remember to use keywords, you can pass these initial checks and get your CV seen! Remember, they are trying to recruit the best person for the job and the scanner is a tool to help them do that. Granted it is a somewhat crude one but, we have to live with it. These days recruiters don’t even have to read your CV to know that you are probably not right for the job. So just make sure you put those keywords in!