CPA Firm Recruitment Guide: Cover Letters

Writing Effective Cover Letters

Cover letters are typically not required at a job fair, but many times they are required as part of the application process. An accounting cover letter must be mistake free, should focus on your relevant qualifications including: education, technical experience, class projects, personal attributes (leadership, communication, passion, perseverance, etc), campus involvement, and knowledge of the employer and industry.


How is a cover letter different from a resume?

You may ask yourself, "I am already including most of this information on my resume, how is it any different to include it in a cover letter?" One main difference is that a resume has an objective tone; the words "I", "me", or "my" are never included in a resume.  Instead, it's as if the resume is a third person that is describing you.

A cover letter is the exact opposite: it should be written subjectively, in your voice, expressing your passion and enthusiasm for the position and the industry.  Imagine you only had a minute to two with an accounting manager to explain to them why they should hire you and why you're a good fit for their firm.  That is what should be in your cover letter.

The ability to communicate effectively is highly regarded in accounting. Your cover letter is a direct sample of your ability to communicate clearly, properly and succinctly in writing. Take advantage of this opportunity!


A cover letter should be:

  • In traditional business format.
  • One page including 3-5 paragraphs.
  • Address your letter to a specific individual if possible.  Check the organization's website or call to get information.


Cover Letter Structure and Content

Paragraph 1: Introduction

  • Introduce yourself and exclaim your interest in the position and the employer.
  • Mention your qualifications in broad terms including your education and how you learned about the opening.


Paragraph 2 & 3: Overview of your qualifications

  • It is fine to use bullet points instead of a paragraph for this section.
  • It is acceptable to use two paragraphs to describe your qualifications.
  • Briefly describe your most relevant experiences, internships, projects, volunteer work and personal attributes and relate them to the job description.
  • Use accounting terminology, mention accounting software, and present your achievements using figures whenever possible.
  • Focus on leadership, teamwork and communication throughout.


Paragraph 4: Demonstrate your knowledge of the employer

  • Put your research to work in your cover letter.
  • What impressed you about the employer? The position?
  • How can you contribute to the type of accomplishments you discovered the employer values and pursues?


Paragraph 5: Closing

  • Thank the reader for their time, reassert your interest in the position, provide contact information and express your desire to share more about your qualifications.


For additional cover letter help and examples, check out the cover letter section of our resume toolkit.


Next: The CPA Firm Interview