financial analyst cover letters – how to make your application add up to success.

A surprising number of candidates applying for analyst jobs still neglect to send a cover letter – which means statistically a much lower chance of success.  If you want to get that interview then always include one.  It's invaluable.

Before you start.

It's worth doing some research prior to starting to write your cover letter. As well as studying the job description in detail, try to find out as much about the company as possible. Knowing how you match the criteria as closely as possible will help you word your letter, whilst understanding the culture and values will help you fine tune your pitch.  Sector knowledge is the icing on the cake.

Find out the full name and job title of the person dealing with applications and always refer to the exact job title within the letter to avoid any possibility of confusion.

What to include?

Tell them why you want the job - Is it because you’re aware of their reputation already or do their values/vision appeal to you?  Let them know what's at the heart of your passion for the company and the role.

Show them why you’re 'the one' - Employing a financial analysis expert is a big deal and needless to say the role comes with significant responsibility. Companies will be looking for incredibly thorough individuals with a keen eye for detail and ability to sift through data with a scientific approach. They'll also be looking for people that will function smoothly across all departments of the company – from middle management and sales up to board level -  make sure you show your human side and that you're a good relationship builder.

Make it a win-win - In this type of role, you'll be judged on results.  What success have you had with reducing costs or increasing profits at other companies?  What opportunities have you been able to spot elsewhere that has saved or made money? If you're a recent graduate, give examples of how you have an eye for efficiency and you know what Key Performance Indicators will be important in their sector. Show them how you can add value to their bottom line.

Software skills - Without getting bogged down in the detail, demonstrate what software you have used and when they have made a real difference. Whether it's advanced knowledge of Excel, Enterprise Resource Planning packages or accounting software such as Sage and Quickbooks – let them know you're comfortable and able with the tools of your trade.

Being risk aware – Be clear that you understand risk, but are not risk-averse. The margins of error in business are getting smaller as markets get more competitive – show how you understand this and have their best interests at heart.

Experience and qualifications – Without repeating the details of your CV touch on the most pertinent experiences that match their wish list. It's also worth mentioning here what qualifications and training you have – especially ones you think will set you apart from your fellow applicants.

What to leave out.

  • Avoid cliches like “I'm a team player” or “I have great interpersonal skills” - these are overused and meaningless.
  • Don't use acronyms – even ones you think other financial analysts would be familiar with. 
  • Keep it short – one side of A4 is enough.

Before you send.

Prior to sending your cover letter, go through it with a fine-tooth comb and then ask someone with a good level of relevant experience to read it through and give you honest feedback.  Then, double check the spelling and grammar thoroughly – you can't afford to show any lack of thoroughness.  Best of luck!

 

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