How to write a brilliant cover letter
A cover letter, when sent together with your CV, gives you an opportunity to further tell the reader exactly why you should be considered for interview.
Although not all job applications require a cover letter, it is always a good idea to provide one. Why miss out on a further chance to market your expertise and convince the employer you have what it takes?
Focus your letter for each application
Some job seekers use the same cover letter for every application. Whilst you may have the core content, the more you can align the letter to the specific requirements of a post, the better the letter will resonate with the reader. Even jobs with the same job title can have quite different requirements so read the person specification and use this as the basis for showing the reader how you meet these requirements.
Keep your cover letter short
Just as most recruiters will scan read a CV, the same is true for your cover letter. So, there is little point including lots of detail. Keep your cover letter to three or four short paragraphs. At the beginning introduce yourself and summarise why you are applying for the role. The rest of the letter should be used to support your application using specific examples of experience and highlighting the necessary financial qualifications, technical accounting expertise and personal qualities.
Your cover letter should complement your CV
Occasionally when we review a customer’s CV they might say ‘I didn’t put any achievements in the CV as I included them all in the cover letter’. Your CV and cover letter need to act both independently as well as together. Always include examples of achievements in your CV. However, you can pick your two or three most impressive achievements and cite these in the cover letter too. As long as you don’t repeat verbatim what is in the CV, repeating an important message can help to hammer your strengths home. This is the process by how all advertising works after all.
Presentation and formatting
Ensure your cover letter contains three or four coherent paragraphs where there is a set theme for each paragraph. Address the respondent by name if you can and include a heading at the top with the job title and reference number. It goes without saying your cover letter should be proof-read carefully to make sure there are no spelling mistakes or typos. Sign off with a warm and positive message along the lines of ‘I believe I have all the attributes to succeed in this role and would warmly welcome being invited to interview’.
This article is written by Neville Rose, Director of CV Writers.
CV Writers are the official CV partner to ACCA Careers.