Your cover letter should be more than just your resume written out in paragraph form – in fact, although the two documents are complementary, they are very different. A resume should briefly summarise your relevant career history, skills, achievements and qualifications, whereas the function of a cover letter is to introduce you as a candidate, explain your interest in the role, why you’re a good fit, and generally interpret the resume relevance.
To ensure you’re making the most impact when marketing yourself to potential employers, we thought we would explain the difference between resume vs cover letter and the key features that will help you land your next Accounting job, below.
The first and most glaring difference between a cover letter and a resume is formatting. A good Accounting resume should be concise, easy for the reader to digest and ideally no more than two or three pages (will vary depending on seniority). The trick to keeping it short, sharp and simple is to use bullet points instead of long sentences and highlight only the information that is relevant to the specific job.
Don’t forget to put your name and contact details right at the top of the front page of your resume so that the employer or recruiter can reach out to you later! It can also help to put your details on subsequent pages just in case the pages get muddled. Page numbers can assist the reader also
On the flip side, a cover letter can be more informative and filled with extra information that wasn’t fitting for the resume. Take this opportunity to explain yourself, your work history and why you are the right fit for the job and organisation (use the job description or job ad as a reference). A cover letter should be written in a business letter format using full paragraphs (as opposed to bullet points), as its focus is less on being scannable and more on quality content. Remember to date it and address it to the hiring manager (with the company’s address underneath).
Another of the biggest differences between a cover letter and a resume is the type of information they cover. Whilst resumes should contain objective facts such as roles held, dates, duties, qualifications, measurable achievements and key skills, cover letters are more subjective. Take the opportunity in your cover letter to elaborate on your resume and delve deeper into important points such as accomplishments, job responsibilities, career goals and why you are interested in (and why you would be a good fit for) this particular vacancy.
The cover letter is a fantastic opportunity to “sell yourself” – so take the time to perfect it and compel the reader to find out more about you.
Whilst both the resume and cover letter should be professional documents, a resume is usually more formal and often written in the third person, whereas a cover letter takes on a more casual tone and is written in the first person (as though you are speaking directly to the reader). Where appropriate, a cover letter can contain information that is deemed more personal, such as what you are passionate about professionally and personally, your goals and relevant personality traits.
Remember that cover letters are exactly what their name alludes to – letters. With this in mind, try to address the letter to the hiring manager by name wherever possible. If you are unsure of who the hiring manager is, research the company’s website or social media pages. You can also talk to your recruiter or internal HR team, as it is very important to get the name right!
During the job hunt, it is crucial to use every resource available to its full potential and ensure you give the entire process your best shot. If you are unsure about how to approach a cover letter or resume, don’t hesitate to ask for advice. Remember that your cover letter and resume will be the first opportunity to introduce yourself to a potential new employer, so make sure they are good enough to get you an interview!
For any more help or advice on how to write a cover letter, or if you are looking for a new Accounting job, contact the team at Richard Lloyd, experts in Accounting recruitment in Sydney.