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  • Writer's picturePGAA Tax

Cover Letters-how to get the job you want, not just the job that's posted



Today’s job market for tax professionals is tricky. Still, more boomers are retiring, a smaller pool of Americans are seeking out the profession at the education level, we have whispers of recession, and lest we forget, the highly specified US tax codes make foreign outsourcing and employment out of reach.


So if you are thinking about bringing yourself to market or are ready to move out of Big 4 accounting and your resume is short, I suggest you dream big and get a phone call, a coffee, or a zoom with your ideal company.


Whether companies are experiencing staff shortages, rapid growth, or have never been fully staffed, cover letters can float your resume to the top, especially if your resume is a little lean or green. Cover letters have become less common with Gen Z applications because they suspect a computer is scanning their application rather than a human. Plus, it is a candidate's market, so they opt out if the extra work isn't necessary.


But they aren't obsolete, especially if you are being selective with your career moves. More importantly, hiring managers read your cover letters! In fact, reports show that even if the cover letter is optional, 80% of HR still expect it!


What Cover letters do:

They give a personal touch, a personal voice, and show your intention. The trick is to keep it short, customized, and clearly convey your unique ability and experience.


The Basics:

Address it to the person you want to meet with, even if it doesn't get to them. Aim for the hiring manager or anticipated department head: Tax director, VP of Tax, or CTO.

Don't be boring; state your intention quickly and get to a story or anecdote that illustrates who you are. People love stories, and people remember stories. Remember, cover letters are NOT narratives of your resume but examples of your writing skills and convictions.


Show them why you:

Sure, you may be sending out multiple cover letters, but if you've done a good job of the cover letter, you might have also convinced yourself, "THIS IS THE ONE!" Focus on why this company, this position, and why you+them are a special combination. Research the people on the team, the projects they've recently finished, or a forthcoming merger that gets you all jazzed up. Don't say you are enthusiastic. Show them your enthusiasm.

Name a connection or hero within the company:

Even if it is a stretch, sharing someone specific you've met or admired within the company shows investment. Share the impact of that person or their story.

It doesn't just need to be a letter:

If anything, the last 3 years taught us that the dance of tradition and innovation is quite the evolving tango. Resumes with lengthy bullet points are passé, and so is a long-winded cover letter. Feel free to create a qualification match grid/table and make a short list of what you want to accomplish in the next 3, 5,10 years of your career. Numbers speak clearly to a reader, so don't forget to add the best of your success stats. Just keep it to a half, or at most, one page.


Finally, make sure that your LinkedIn matches your resume/cover letter. Most people go straight to a social media platform when they are introduced to a new face.


As always, we are here to support candidates and clients. Please call when you are ready to make a career move or looking for your next tax professional to join your team!


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