If you will be applying for entry-level finance jobs or finance or accounting internships in the near future, you should include a cover letter with your application and resume. As we mentioned in part one of this two-part post, writing a cover letter isn’t exactly brain surgery, but it’s important to do some solid research about the companies you are targeting, present the letter in an appropriate style and include a few key items to make a good impression.
In the second installment of this two-part post, we’ll discuss the presentation and content of your finance job cover letter.
If you’re applying for an internship or entry-level position in finance or accounting, your cover letter and resume should be professional in tone. As with any type of career, you need to present yourself in a fashion that reflects the industry you are pursuing.
The finance industry and the people who work for finance companies are steeped in professionalism and old traditions. Your cover letter and resume should reflect this. In addition, typos and grammatical errors can land your application in the trash before a hiring manager even has the chance to read it. So review your cover letter (and resume) closely before you submit it.
You should also “make your case” in one page or less, because most busy recruiters and hiring managers won’t make it past the first couple of paragraphs unless the cover letter highlights key qualities that they desire in a candidate.
Review the job description closely, then include pertinent, quantifiable accomplishments that pertain specifically to the job in question. Candidates seeking out finance careers are plentiful, so you need to look like a star.
It’s also important to stay on point. Achievements that don’t apply to the finance jobs you are considering can typically be left out. Items that need more explanation can usually be presented better during the interview phase.
So what should you include in your entry-level finance job cover letter, and where?
1. Your contact information. If you’re creating a word document, follow standard letter style with your contact information up top and in your closing paragraph. For email body cover letters, contact information in the closing paragraph should suffice.
2. Your current status, the job for which you are applying and a brief but compelling explanation as to why you’re a good fit. You need to make a big bang out of the gate so incorporate these key items in your opening paragraph.
3. Who and what you know about the company. If you have any company contacts mention them here and explain how you met them. Follow up with why you want to work at XYZ Company. This is where your research really comes into play, and it’s a good place to show your passion for the finance industry and this company specifically, which is important.
4. A bulleted list of quantifiable accomplishments if possible. Include specific, quantifiable accomplishments that pertain to the company’s goals, and avoid other achievements that don’t apply to success for this position (too much information). You can derive these stats either from previous work experience, class work, finance case study competitions, scholarly papers, volunteer work, etc.
5. A strong closing paragraph that reinforces why you would be an asset. Summarize your accomplishments here and explain why you’d be a good candidate or asset to the company. Then follow up with the best way to reach you (your contact information as noted above, phone and email address should suffice).
6. Keywords drawn from the job description throughout. Both your cover letter and resume should include keywords throughout that are derived from the job description and are tied specifically to your qualifications. Keywords play a key role in your cover letter and resume making it through applicant tracking systems, so don’t skip this step.
If you’re ready to pound the pavement and find the finance career of your dreams, Doostang can help. We specialize in helping recent finance and accounting graduates and MBAs find accounting and finance jobs at top accounting, banking and finance firms. Visit our website to search jobs and learn about the wide range of services that Doostang offers.
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Isaacs, K. “Cover Letter Tips for Finance Professionals.” Monster.com. Available at: http://career-advice.monster.com/resumes-cover-letters/cover-letter-tips/finance-cover-letter-tips/article.aspx. Accessed October 24, 2013.
“2013 Corporate Recruiters Survey.” Report 01. Graduate Management Admission Council, 2013. Available at http://www.gmac.com/~/media/Files/gmac/Research/Employment%20Outlook/crs-2013-hiring-report-01. Accessed Oct. 28, 2013.
DeChesare, B. “The Investment Banking Cover Letter Template You’ve Been Waiting For.” Mergers & Inquisitions website. Available at http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/investment-banking-cover-letter-template/. Accessed Oct. 30, 2013.
“Example of a covering letter for a graduate finance traineeship.” University of Kent website. Available at http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/covlet.htm. Accessed Oct. 30, 2013.
“Investment Banking Resume;” “Private Equity Resume;” “Hedge Fund Resume.” Street of Walls website. Available at: http://www.streetofwalls.com/. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.