How Your Cover Letter Can Get You in the Door

Cover Letter

You thought all you needed was a head for numbers to get a job in the finance and accounting world? Think again. When you reach that point in your job search where you need to write a cover letter, you’re going to need words, too.

Granted, you have the advantage when the demand for specialized skills outweighs the supply of available finance professionals. But along with your resumea cover letter is a necessary tool for standing out in the job market. It can help you move quickly to an interview, and another, to offer and, eventually, your ideal career opportunity.

Ninety-one percent of executives in a Robert Half survey said they found the cover letter is important when evaluating candidates for finance jobs. So get to work!

You can boost the chances your cover letter will open doors for you in your job search by keeping these five tips in mind:

1. Be concise.

The ability to express your career goals quickly — either verbally or in writing — is your ally during a job search. This goes for the cover letter as well. Show upfront the value you bring to the table.

2. Address your cover letter to the hiring manager.

You will make a much stronger case for your candidacy if you can grab the hiring manager's attention, and nothing does that better than using the person's own name. Use sites such as LinkedIn or the company’s own website to identify the right person. In some cases, a quick phone call to the company can also yield this information.

3. Use perfect grammar and spelling.

While quickly written emails and texts on phones are part of the modern business world, the cover letter is not the place for abbreviations, slang, emoticons, typos or misspellings. As a finance and accounting professional, you need to display your keen eye for detail. Take the time to reread every line and make sure you showcase your ability to communicate effectively. A weak cover letter does more harm than good, and it’s worthwhile to have someone you trust proofread your work.

4. Never reuse a cover letter.

You may have applied for similar finance and accounting jobs, but a well-crafted cover letter is your opportunity to tie your resume (ideally reformatted for each role), professional experience and accomplishments to the specific requirements of the position. Avoid copying and pasting from documents used earlier in your job search. Take time to prepare a tailored letter that gives examples of your accomplishments as they relate to the position at hand.

5. Be positive.

Use positive language and always focus on the win-win you and the company can achieve. Instead of talking about how bored you were with your current company, describe how ready you are for new challenges. Similarly, don't express dislike for the company culture where you’re working now. Instead, talk about how excited you are about the great things you've heard about your prospective employer.

Don’t write anything that might be viewed as simply going through the motions. Use a professional tone to convey passion for your career in finance and accounting.

There is no exact formula for landing the ideal position, but with the right words, you can use every opportunity available to set yourself apart from the competition. Think about why you are a great candidate for the role, make notes of what comes to mind, and create a compelling case for your candidacy with a winning cover letter.

Read more job search tips and how to format a cover letter here