Ho to put your best foot forward

  • 01-03-17
  • David Landau

For roles that mention specific requirements, one of the most common mistakes that we see job seekers make is not tailoring their applications accordingly. For many employers, a generic application points to a lack of commitment on the applicant’s behalf, and sends a message that they aren’t particularly interested in the role, but are more keen to just apply hoping that their application will appeal to one of the many ads they have responded to. Although, we know that this may not actually be the case, it can appear this way to a potential employer. In fact, more often than not, it’s mostly down to job applicants not knowing how they can put their best foot forward when applying for a new accounting job. By taking just a few simple steps, you can ensure your application stands out from the rest.


Worryingly often we’ll see the same applicant apply for a high volume of roles across a multitude of accounting job disciplines. Although it might seem like a good idea to get your name out there and put your CV on as many desks as possible, the ‘spray and pray’ tactic simply isn’t an option anymore. Today’s market is more competitive than ever and companies and recruiters are receiving a huge volume of applications for every role. That means that if you’re sending out a stock-standard CV to anyone and everyone, you’re just going to blend in with the rest. By applying to roles that you’re a marginal fit for and hoping the volume of applications will get you an interview, you’re setting yourself up to be overlooked. Instead, focus on the opportunities that you are either well suited for or are truly passionate about and put the focus on yourself.

If you are one who uses the ‘spray and pray’ approach, it doesn’t just harm your chances of getting a job, it can also have negative consequences even if you’re successful in securing a role. When you’re applying for every job that’s semi-relevant to your skillset, you open up the risk of applying for roles that you haven’t properly researched or assessed, and wasting both your and the interviewer’s time by going through the process for a job you don’t want. However, if the process runs its course and you end up actually securing one of these jobs, you may find yourself at a company where you don’t fit into the culture and end up unhappy once again. To avoid this, before you even consider applying for a job, figure out what you like and don’t like about your current role. Why do you want a new role in the first place? Direct your job search based on your preferences, targeting companies that meet your requirements. It might sound like a given, but make sure you read job advertisements comprehensively to ensure you understand the role before you apply can help you to avoid an awkward situation later down the track.


Something many candidates forget that can make a huge difference to your application is forgetting to tailor their CV to the job advertisement they’re applying for. The goal of your CV is to present a snapshot of your career that a potential employer can see value in. When putting your CV together, it’s important to take a different perspective and put yourself in the employer’s shoes. What are they looking for? Having said this, you cannot be expected to amend your resume for every application you send, but for those that are of greater interest to you, it is definitely worth putting the effort in.

It can be helpful to treat the job advertisement as if it were the employer’s shopping list and implement specific language from the advert into your CV to demonstrate how you can meet their requirements. For example, if a Financial Accountant job ad specifies significant month-end reporting experience, include examples of your experience relating to this throughout your previous roles. You can then go over other details, like your relevant qualifications and certifications. In most cases, a bullet point list of these will do just fine; most Accounting employers will know what your certifications are and the value they represent.


The value of cover letters is often debated amongst recruiters, with some swearing by them and others seeing them as a relic of job searches past. Regardless, cover letters can be a great tool to supplement your application. Your cover letter is your chance to directly campaign for the role. Talk about why you and your skills are suited to this particular role at this specific company. Directly address the success criteria of the role and provide examples to showcase your involvement.

Cover letters can come in many different forms; sometimes they may be an online form alongside your application or the actual email with which you send your application. Other times you may have to create a separate document. No matter what the format is, research is key when it comes to making the most of your cover letter. Learn everything you can about the company, know the role you’re applying for back-to-front, and find out whose desk your application is going to land on. Although most ads will have a contact person on them, it’s worth finding out who is in charge of the job listing even if you have to spend some time with the company switchboard operator!  Even better, you can sidestep that hassle by working with a specialist recruiter, it’s worthwhile. Many hiring managers will switch off as soon as they see “Dear Sir/Madam,” so start out your cover letter by addressing them personally. Keep in mind that these people may see hundreds of cover letters every week; a slightly tweaked template from the internet isn’t going to cut it!


Finding the perfect job is hard, but you can make it a whole lot easier for yourself by taking a more strategic approach to your job search. Plan your targets carefully, make sure you’re applying for roles that are relevant to your skills and craft your CV and cover letter in a way that puts your best foot forward. If you’re looking for more advice on how to progress your job search in the Sydney Accounting sector, feel free to get in touch with the team at Richard Lloyd.

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Also, take a look at 3 Critical Things You Need to Do Before Applying for Your Next Accounting Job to improve your application even more, right from the get-go.