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Finance professionals play a key role in overseeing an organization’s financial health. In such a case, companies are unceasingly racing to search for the most capable employee that can help ensure their continued viability. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 750,000 new jobs are projected to be introduced in the marketplace by 2030. Hence, finance and accounting talents will remain in high demand in the years to come.
When applying for a finance position, a compelling cover letter can be your best weapon to differentiate yourself from other qualified applicants. While a best practice resume is considered to be the most powerful tool during a job search, the role of a cover letter has become bigger in recent years. Yes, not all job posts will require you to submit one. However, taking this extra step can go a long way to advance to the next stage of the application process. So, in this article, we will guide you on how to create a well-crafted cover letter to help you increase your chances of securing your next finance job.
1. Analyze the job requirements
Your cover letter should be personalized for the company you want to be part of. So, it is important to have a deeper understanding of the specific requirements and qualifications the employer is seeking on a potential employee. Read the job description thoroughly to better understand what the job requires you to do and what the company’s specific needs are. This will allow you to determine what aspects of your professional background and personal traits you have to emphasize to convince them that you are the best choice. Make sure to take note of all the key skills, words, and phrases from the job post and add them to your cover letter wherever relevant.
2. Start with an engaging opening
Your finance cover letter is your first introduction to hiring decision-makers. To start on the right foot, address the recipient properly in the salutation using their specific first name. Otherwise, you can use some recommended generic greetings, such as “Dear Hiring Manager”, “Dear Finance Department Hiring Team” or “Dear VP of Finance”. Then, in the first paragraph, indicate the role you’re applying to, how you learned about the job, and the unique reason they should consider you for the role. Introduce yourself by briefly describing your financial expertise, demonstrating your drive, and specifically pointing out how your skills can benefit their company.
3. Highlight your finance skills
Ultimately, employers want to know that you have the ability to do the job successfully. In today’s rapidly evolving workplace, you must demonstrate everything from your impeccable hard skills to your genuine personality traits and soft skills. While this is the case, remember to emphasize those with direct relevance to your target job. Showcasing your technical capabilities allows hiring decision-makers to determine whether or not you would be a great fit for their team.
Having top-notch financial knowledge and abilities isn’t everything to excel as a financial professional. Soft skills are also necessary to be successful in the finance space. Adding some of your unique personality traits, behavior, and social attitudes help you demonstrate your capacity to navigate difficult working environments while still producing positive outcomes. Let us take a look at some of the essential hard and soft skills you can include in your finance cover letter.
a) Hard or Technical Skills
- Accounting Skills – accurately managing financial transactions, analyzing financial data, generating financial reports, conducting financial analysis, and performing other related tasks according to established accounting principles
- Financial Management – focuses on applying general management concepts to plan, direct, and control financial activities to effectively utilize a company’s financial resources
- Business Intelligence – proficiency in utilizing finance-related tools to organize, analyze, and contextualize financial information and convey data-based insights to all organizational levels for better decision-making
- Cash Flow Management – managing and tracking the ins and outs of a business’ funds to establish profitable strategies and avoid financial loss
- Financial Reporting – creating comprehensive financial-related reports and disclosing the financial position of the company to upper management and stakeholders
- Financial Modeling – devising financial models summarizing a company’s earnings and expenses to calculate the financial impact of future projects, initiatives or decisions
- Financial Planning – identifying and formulating the most appropriate financing and investing activities for the company to achieve strategic goals and objectives
- P&L Management – strategizing to reduce business expenses and increase profit
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) – strong knowledge and ability to employ these principles to create clear, consistent, and comparable financial records
- Data Management – collating, storing, managing, and maintaining a large amount of data to support in making data-driven financial decisions
Let us give you an example of how you can showcase your hard skills in your cover letter.
“As a Finance Manager with CBA Enterprise, I am in charge of the entire company’s and its 5 international subsidiaries’ cash flow forecasts and budgets. My proficiency in utilizing Oracle enabled me to ensure accurate analysis and presentation of financial data to executive leadership. Hence, I have played an instrumental role in the company’s business planning and investment decision-making.”
b) Soft Skills
- Analytical Thinking – assessing and understanding a critical situation to come up with an intelligent response or a fit-for-purpose solution
- Communication – being able to communicate and collaborate with all employee levels, share insights, and articulate complex financial details to non-technical audiences in an easy-to-understand language
- Attention to detail – being able to identify errors and discrepancies to maintain financial accuracy
- Leadership – influencing teams and promoting teamwork to enhance efficiency and results
- Decision-making – making educated business decisions even during complicated scenarios to maintain the company’s financial sustainability
- Interpersonal Skills – being able to deal with people in diverse levels, backgrounds, and personality types and build healthy relationships
- Business Acumen – interpreting a business problem and devising solutions to improve financial performance
- Organizational Skills – organizing information and financial documents for easy access
- Anticipation Skills – being able to think long-term and look ahead to what the business or customer needs to offer suitable solutions
Here is another example you can use as a guide to showcase your soft skills in your cover letter.
“Having served various financial leadership roles in 3 different Fortune 100 companies, I have cultivated my expertise in navigating through changing business priorities and providing alternatives within a short timeframe. This allowed me to formulate creative solutions that support enterprise-wide decision-making, enable optimal utilization of allocated budgets, and create impact within the organization. I also take pride in my ability to maintain collaborative relationships with internal and external stakeholders that resulted in improved cash flow, substantial cost savings, and financial efficiency.”
4. Prove your fitness to the role
Having the right skills for the job is a great thing. But, to make your cover letter more effective, you must demonstrate that you can actually put these skills to use to help the company meet its financial objectives. The best way to do this is by providing samples of your most recent and relevant accomplishments using specific numbers and figures. Doing so can help you convince employers that having you onboard will be their best decision.
It may be tempting to list all your notable successes to prove how highly capable you are of delivering results. However, you must keep in mind that your cover letter is intended to complement your resume, not repeat its content. So, make sure to focus only on your key achievements that directly relate to the demands of the position you’re applying for. Share your success stories in handling the similar kind of problems the company is facing. To give you a clear picture of how this can be done, see the example below.
“Working as the Director of Finance with XYZ Corporation, I have been pivotal in establishing and scaling the revenue finance function for the MENA region. Through my efforts, I was able to grow the business revenue from $150M to more than $350M in less than 2 years. Another aspect of my role is supporting the company in structuring large technology deals for our Fortune 100 clients in the MENA region. Throughout my career, I have helped XYZ Corp. successfully close various deals totaling up to $1.3B.”
5. Demonstrate enthusiasm
Apart from your relevant experiences, employers also want to know that you are genuinely interested in working for them. Letting them know why you choose them can help them gauge your cultural fitness to their organization. What attracted you to apply to the position? Do your passion, interests, and goals align with their values and culture? If it does, make sure to tell them. Research the company to learn more about what they do, including their challenges and recent developments. This way, you can better convey your enthusiasm and desire to be part of the company for the long term.
The finance industry is highly competitive. So, to distinguish yourself from the competition, accompany your application with a cover letter. Think of it as your personal marketing tool that helps you present and sell yourself better. Use the above tips as a guide to nail your cover letter and secure your dream finance role.