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How to Perfect a Cover Letter for Accounting – guest blog from The Accountancy Partnership

Introducing our new BFFs, The Accountancy Partnership who have kindly stepped in to offer their advice and insight into Accountancy careers over a couple of guest blog posts. First up, Kara Copple offers advice on…

How to Perfect a Cover Letter for Accounting

Cover letters are no one’s favourite thing to write but they are an essential part of a job application. A cover letter is a way of introducing yourself and allows you to expand on the points outlined in your CV.

They’re not easy things to write. You need to be able to sell yourself, get the tone right, be descriptive but brief and also stand out among the competition.

Here are some tips on how to write a winning cover letter:

Be brief and trim the excess

On average, employers are less likely to read a cover letter that goes over one page. With so many to get through, they’re looking for ways to narrow down the pile of applications and something that’s unnecessarily lengthy is simply not going to hold their attention in comparison to something much punchier.

Try to aim for half a page to a full page for your cover letter. When it comes to editing, try to be brutal and trim the excess. We all have a tendency to try and bulk up our cover letters with lots of unnecessary descriptions to make it sound nice. It doesn’t necessarily have to sound nice, it needs to be functional.

Every sentence should have a purpose and if it doesn’t, then it should be reworded or just taken out in order to keep it brief.

The purpose of the cover letter is to be offered an interview. Therefore every paragraph should either:

  • Highlight or demonstrate a skill they’re looking for
  • Highlight relevant experience/qualifications
  • Show that you’ve researched the company/industry

Use keywords

You should always make it as easy as possible for someone to read your application. The people you’re sending your application to are receiving hundreds of CVs and cover letters. The reality is that most people hiring will skim read your cover letter and CV first to see whether they should take it further.

So as well as keeping it brief, you should also focus on including relevant keywords that a hiring manager will be looking out for. For an accounting position, a hiring manager is looking for things like ACCA, ACA, MAAT and names of accounting firms you’ve worked for or interned with in the past.

Target it to the company and the role you’re applying for

Hiring managers and employers can spot a cover letter that has been sent out to loads of different places straight away. They see them all the time. You need to tailor each cover letter to the place that you’re applying to if you hope to catch their attention.

This means you have to research the company you’re applying for. It will give you a better idea of what you’re getting into and whether you’d be a good fit for them and vice versa. Having knowledge of the company you’re applying to will help you to stand out among the other applicants and will also make you feel more prepared and confident if you’re offered an interview.

If you’ve had experience in different areas of accounting, try to just stick to talking about the one that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. So if you’re going for a job in tax, don’t start talking about audit unless it’s going to help. It’s better to specialise than to cram lots of information into a small space.

Avoid clichés

Hiring managers are really tired of reading about how everyone is great at “working alone and as part of a team”. That phrase in itself is meaningless unless you can demonstrate how you did this. Even then, the phrase is so overused it’s enough to make any employer’s eyes glaze over when reading it.

Try to keep your cover letter fresh if you hope to stand out among the hundreds of applications. This might even mean Googling overused phrases in cover letters and CVs just so you know exactly what to avoid.

Writing a cover letter is much harder than it initially sounds. It’s a balancing act between writing too much and writing too little, making sure it’s functional, without sounding robotic, being original without standing out for the wrong reasons. However, a bit of practice and following the tips above should increase your chances of success.

Written by Kara Copple at The Accountancy Partnership

Stayed tuned for The Accountancy Partnership’s next post on ‘The Future for Accounting and How Graduates Fit In’.

If there are any other topics you’d like to see covered, either by our good selves or one of our guest writers, leave a comment or email us – careers@brighton.ac.uk.

cover letteremployabilityguestjobseeking

Paul Rothwell • 03/02/2017


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