A Resume and Cover Letter? What's the difference?

Cover Letter Tips

Is there a difference between a Resume and Cover Letter? Sure is. And you need to know why.

What’s the difference between a resume and cover letter? Many candidates looking for an accounting job, or any job for that matter, regularly trip up on this. So let’s be clear:

  • A resume is the detailed description of your past jobs, what you did in those jobs and what were your key achievements

  • A cover letter is sent to potential employers outlining, amongst other points, why you are applying for the job in the first place and pointing out the fact that you have a resume you want them to read.

OK. So you know there’s a clear difference between a resume and cover letter. Now let’s give you some guidance on how to write a cover letter.

Whether it's an accounting job - or any other job for that matter - first impressions are critical.

Now, there's always some argument about whether or not prospective employers actually bother to read cover letters, no one seems to dispute the fact that you need one anyway. And that means they should be flawless.

There are several common mistakes that are easy to make on your cover letter. However, you can avoid these errors if you know what they are!

We're going to look at nine quick tips that can vastly improve your cover letter. When evaluating these tips, always consider things from the perspective of the employer.

Use these tips to make your cover letter shine:

1. Spelling and grammar are critical

Your spelling and grammar should be impeccable. Use the spelling and grammar function on your word processor. If you're not sure about the usage that's being suggested by your software, ask someone else. 

  • This is one of those items that is easily fixed and will help you tremendously. Companies view these types of errors very negatively, so take an extra two minutes and get it right. 

2. Show you have long-term interest

Companies depend on tenured employees as the foundation of their success. Hiring and training a new employee is expensive, so companies need to believe that you're in it for the long haul.  

3. Stay local if you can

Unless the position pays quite well, companies prefer local applicants. There are no moving and travel expenses, and they can be sure that you're comfortable with the area and won't jump ship for geographical reasons. 

4. Avoid vagueness

Companies are almost always looking for someone to perform specific tasks and manage specific responsibilities. Be clear about what you're looking for and what you have to contribute. 

5. Be Unique

After a while, all applicants and cover letters start to look the same. But if you put considerably more time into your cover letter, it will stand out compared to all the others. Like you mom probably said, "Be you." 

6. Be 100% professional

Was your last boss a jerk? Was your last employer cheap? Those things might true, but it looks bad if you mention them. If you don't have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself. 

7. Show some personality

It makes employers feel better about you if they can get some sense of who you are on a more personal level. Cover letters frequently make the applicant appear to be a hard-working robot. And who wants to work closely with a robot? Remember to be professional, but show some personality in your cover letter. 

8. Come from a position of strength

The employer is only interested in what you can do for them and how you fit into the company culture. Expressing neediness, desperation, or other personal issues won't help you. Focus on your strengths and skills and show them what you can do for them. 

9. Be reasonable

Commonly, applicants apply for positions that are either way beyond or way beneath their experience. In the first case, the employer will never believe you can perform the job adequately. In the second case, the employer won't trust that you'll stay. Stretch yourself, but be reasonable in your aspirations. 

Summing Up The Resume and Cover Letter Differences

Cover letters are a necessary part of any professional job search. Always present yourself as a professional and keep the perspective of the employer in the front of your mind.  

Hiring managers are always looking for someone that can competently perform the job, fit into the corporate environment, and show a reasonable amount of loyalty.

Get these things across in your cover letter and you'll have that new accounting job before you know it! 

Now your armed with the difference between a resume and cover letter, get both of them completed and get them out there!