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Need advice on Cover Letter

conmamaconmama 4965 replies350 threads Senior Member
I haven't been aggressive in finding a PT job, especially with the holidays. I scour the websites a couple times a week, but don't really see anything I'm interested in, nor are there a lot out there either. I'm an accountant / financial analyst with an MBA, but not a CPA. Anyway, there is one I would highly consider, 20 hours a week, professional firm and pays quite well on an hourly basis. They want an accountant/office manager/executive assistant....I think someone to handle all that type of stuff including payroll. One of the requirements, was to be highly proficient in Quickbooks...which I know nothing about. I'm assuming for payroll. I have no problems learning new software systems. It sounds as if they want someone to come in hitting the floor running....but who knows if they will find what they are looking for...the requirements seemed extensive.

I'm going ahead and throwing my hat in the ring. I want to address my lack of experience with this software head on. Not sure how I should word that...my talents normally don't lean towards writing. Plus..from looking at their website they seem like a fairly young company, the founder is only 40...many of them seem to be younger than that.

My age will probably be a stick against me, but if you look at my LinkedIn profile, I think I could pass for late 40's. But I need something for Quickbooks within the cover letter like " I understand you are interested in someone with extensive Quickbook experience, and I appreciate that. However, I feel my extensive experience in various accounting and financial roles in a fast paced environment would be a major benefit to your firm. Although there would be a learning curve with Quickbooks, I am open to taking a course, and have confidence I can pick it up quickly.

Any other suggestions of what to mention concerning this, or phrase it differently?
18 replies
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Replies to: Need advice on Cover Letter

  • 3bm1033bm103 4123 replies86 threads Senior Member
    Why don't you take the course now, just in case you don't get this one? If you already know payroll, you can probably find a quick one or two day course that will familiarize yourself with it. Also, you can point out in the cover letter thatt although you are not proficient in Quickbooks, you ARE proficient in similar programs, assuming that's true. I have used various programs for payroll and once you know one or two the others aren't a huge learning curve but that first is a doozy.
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  • oldfortoldfort 23464 replies308 threads Senior Member
    I think you should mention that you are a fast software learner and give one or two examples. You may even want to mention in the letter that you are already taking a course online.

    As you know, when people post a position, they like to put down everything they would like in a candidate, but at the end of day they would be happy to get 70-80% of requirements. This is especially the case with young, inexperienced hiring managers. I usually advise people to list "must haves" and "nice to haves."

    Before Thanksgiving, I started an intensive job interview process. There was one company that had me go through 4 rounds of interview. At one technical round, the interviewer asked me what software I used for risk management and PM. I literally told her that if they required me to use any software then clearly it wasn't the right job for me. The days of me actually being hands on were gone. To my surprise, they moved me to the next round and did make me an offer. After they talked to me they realized it wasn't the best use of my time. Good hiring managers will know what's important.

    conmama - they should be lucky to get someone with your credential who would be happy to work for 20 hrs/week. If you were younger, you would be looking for a career, not a job. Go in with the attitude "You are lucky to have me." Good luck.
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  • college_querycollege_query 4447 replies354 threads Senior Member
    I would go to the intuit website and take some of the free tutorials they have available. You may discover the software is similar to something else you've used. Then craft your cover letter to say something like "while I have not used QuickBooks in a professional setting, I have used a similar software, X." You could also list the QuickBooks tutorials if you have a section on your resume where you list software/technical expertise.
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  • eireanneireann 1456 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Make sure you don't jump to conclusions about payroll software in the cover letter without knowing that that's what it's used for - we used QB to track money, reconcile the bank statements with money into our account, reconcile staff spending with their corporate cards, etc. I don't think Payroll is actually a big part of it. It's not complicated software, though - if you know any other financial software, I'm sure you could learn it.
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  • abasketabasket 21307 replies914 threads Senior Member
    I would also agree that you need to be a little more specific in what you DO know rather than convincing them you're willing to learn Quickbooks - the vast majority of people will be "willing to learn" for a new job - so that isn't really a stand out statement. Maybe share similar software programs you are proficient in so they can see that you have the abilities.

    In preparation for the possibility of getting an interview, I would also look for some tutorials online to introduce you to Quickbooks. For one thing, that will give you an idea if you really can learn - and like - working with that system. And, then if you get an interview you can lightly talk about the program and show that you have some inklings to how it works, etc. - which will show interest, motivation and potential skill.

    Good luck!
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  • VeryHappyVeryHappy 18976 replies336 threads Senior Member
    I don't like the phrase "I'd be open to learning . . . "

    Instead, try "While I don't yet have an in-depth knowledge of QuickBooks, I expect to shortly. I am currently enrolled in a course called "xxxxxx," and I have extensive experience with [a similar product]. Specific knowledge of a program can always be acquired, but as an experienced professional, I can assure you I will perform all the duties of the job with excellence."

    Or some such.
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  • conmamaconmama 4965 replies350 threads Senior Member
    Thanks guys...I did look to see if there are any classes in my area...there are for $750. Online they are about $350. I'm hesitant to shell out that money right now for a specific software program whicj I may or may not ever use, but I will look to see if there are any free ones. I've never done payroll. i don't have any extensive software knowledge other than a narrow amount here or there in any given position...other than word or excel. And what I did know, I've firgeotten. It's not hard to pick this stuff up for me, but of course they don't know that.

    I'm sure they will find someone. I saw the listing by themselves and also through Robert Half, but who knows, right?

    I'm never sure what to say now when someone asks me what I do. I don't want to say I've been laid off, but it just seems uncomfortable to say I'm retired. I think if that was voluntary, it wouldn't be. I've tried, oh, I'm not working right now but I'd like to find something PT. I'm in the angry part of my grief right now with the layoff.

    I have received 2 emails from former coworkers, one my immediate supervisor, telling me I am missed. That makes me feel good, but so angry at the decision to let me go by the asshat who did.
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  • SlackerMomMDSlackerMomMD 3085 replies9 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2015
    I understand you are interested in someone with extensive Quickbook experience, and I appreciate that. However, I feel my extensive experience in various accounting and financial roles in a fast paced environment would be a major benefit to your firm. Although there would be a learning curve with Quickbooks, I am open to taking a course, and have confidence I can pick it up quickly.

    I'm on a hiring committee at work (this is not a fun thing for me) and we've been through one entire round of not hiring anyone. The position description had everything we wanted which was not possible for any one person to have and be.

    If payroll is a small part of the job, the firm may rather have your overall experience. But if the job is mainly payroll (say, 60% or more), then the firm may pass. I'd still apply because you never know.

    I would tweak your letter a bit. Never put yourself down. Take out the word "extensive" Take out "and I appreciate that. However," Insert what you do know and how that relates to payroll/accounting/bookkeeping. That way, they see you do have technical knowledge and can learn on the job.

    You may want to specify who's going to pay for the course, especially if you're paying for it. Otherwise you may come across as a person who just wants training in a marketable skill. (Committee members had expressed this concern about a couple of applicants)

    Whatever you say about your current employment status, do not lie. One applicant did that and he pretty much lost the job on that one item. "Laid off" is perfectly valid and acceptable. Much better than "taking an educational and personal break"

    Good luck!
    edited December 2015
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  • conmamaconmama 4965 replies350 threads Senior Member
    @SlackerMomMD ....is laid off really benign? I think it wouldn't be. I was a very knowledgeable and valued employee for years, and in my current position to the people I worked with directly. But prospective employers don't
    Know that. I would think they would assume I was subpar compared to my peers....that is why I got the axe instead.

    The truth is I worked a reduced hourly schedule (making full time pay and benefits). I truly believe if I was FT I wouldn't have been let go with others...I had 28 years of very good reviews. But would YOU believe that? I have to admit I did toy with the idea of fudging the truth which would sound plausible.
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  • SlackerMomMDSlackerMomMD 3085 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I guess it's hard to say because I suspect we're in different fields. But given the employment ups and downs of the last decade, I don't think badly of people who are laid off.

    I can say, the hiring committee was appalled when we all found out an applicant fudged his status Applicants have to fill out an application as well as send in a resume. The resume didn't reconcile with the application. He then updated one (I forget which) to say he was taking time off for personal and educational development. I think that may have been his way of avoiding saying he was laid off. It backfired big time. (There were other red flags, but that was the main thing).

    One work around is to give a reference or two from your previous place (where you were laid off). If your immediate supervisor will be a reference, that will signal that the layoff wasn't due to your performance.
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  • esobayesobay 1379 replies20 threads Senior Member
    @conmama , being laid off is not a black mark. It used to be, but that was a long time ago. Since 2008, not so much. Part time jobs are hard to fill often, so I think you have a shot. Plus if you emphasize that you WANT part time and were part time, that will reassure them you want the job, not planning to bail when something full time comes along.
    Good luck!
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  • oldfortoldfort 23464 replies308 threads Senior Member
    Almost everyone I know have been laid off at one time or another.
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  • abasketabasket 21307 replies914 threads Senior Member
    If they mentioned Quickbooks exclusively as the software program they want experience in, then that must be pretty important to them. Of course you should not be running out tomorrow and signing up for a $700 QuickBooks course before you have an interview, but you can get an idea of the program by watching some YouTubes:
    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=quickbooks+online+2015+tutorial+for+beginners

    Again, see what you even think of this program - does it look like a program you want to spend a good portion of this potential job working with????

    While you can sell yourself, keep your abilities realistic. You will be the new man on the totem pole in a new place and be a part-timer. You don't start with clout except for your abilities. So you want to make sure your abilities will allow for confidence in the job so you can build clout in the position.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2015
    Do you have experience in other accounting software (Peachtree, Lawson, etc)? Are you proficient with the Microsoft Office products? I'd state that you are proficient in those areas, and a quick study in picking up new tools. My guess is that you can get a book or two (is there Quickbooks for Dummies?) and be reasonably knowledgable before your first day. I use Quickbooks, switched from Peachtree a couple of years ago, Hardest thing I have dealt with is cash vs accrual basis, and getting the reprts to use the correct basis. I wouldn't mention the word Quickbooks -- just what you do know and that you are a quick study.
    edited December 2015
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  • CCDD14CCDD14 1082 replies2 threads Senior Member
    If you have time and computing resources why not install a free demo? It may include tutorial or help.
    http://enterprisesuite.intuit.com/campaigns/dr/qbes-trial.jsp
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  • JustaMomJustaMom 2891 replies102 threads Senior Member
    OP - check your library - ours offers free online access to Lynda.com which has extensive Quickbooks training - also, I have found that my "transferable skills" have resulted in many more responses to my job search than before I added that - some examples from my own (architecture and urban design based - having come from a purely financial based background):

    10+ years experience with a professional services firm as an Office Manager / Marketing
    Director. Past work history of stability, dependability, accountability and flexibility. References
    available.
    Advanced proficiency with MS Excel, Word, Outlook and Internet research; intermediate proficiency with
    InDesign and Photoshop.
    Extensive experience with multiple accounting software programs (A/P, A/R, payroll) and Deltek ERP database
    (Enterprise Resource Planning).
    Experience creating complex project estimates, sub-consultant agreements, contracts and project fees using
    Excel and Word.
    Experience with design and composition of graphically strong proposals, statements of qualifications,
    and fee proposals; superior editing and proofreading skills.
    Photography of project sites as well as contextual photography for character imagery.
    Research and compilation of information (historical and current) for use in proposal and client
    presentations.
    Strong organizational skills and keen attention to detail.
    Proven track record managing multiple tasks and priorities while meeting or exceeding deadlines.
    Excellent oral and written communication and interpersonal skills with a professional, friendly and
    outgoing demeanor; handle confidential information. Foster positive client relations.
    Ability to ask questions when appropriate, follow directions and determine priorities. Resourceful,
    independent worker and ability to exercise good judgment.
    Valid California driver's license, excellent driving record and own transportation / insurance that can
    be used on the job; flexibility to travel to job sites, local, out of state, and internationally, for client and sub-consultant
    meetings, site walks and pre-proposal workshops.
    Updating and organization of required annual professional Continuing Education units for a substantial
    number of state registrations.
    Supply ordering and negotiating with vendors as well as ensuring all equipment is in working order.
    Other qualifications and skills not described above as requested by management including executives,
    accounting and human resources.
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  • conmamaconmama 4965 replies350 threads Senior Member
    Good point Esobay! Plus, being an empty nester I am very flexible and my time is my own.

    I do know that prior employers are only allowed to say you were employed there...but my supervisor did say he'd give me a recommendation, so I could use his personal cell if need be.

    I really appreciate everyone's responses and will incorporate things you have mentioned into my cover letter for sure!!

    aquote...thanks for what you've written! Reading what others have written definitely help quite a bit. T hanks for taking the time to do that.

    Personally, I think this is a very young organization...and that they are probably looking for someone younger than I to grow with them. But, you never know and it's worth a shot.

    In any case, it shows me I need to keep honing my skills for when things like this pop up. I am definitely going to check my library for any free software tutorials to work on after the boys go back to school. At least I can mention that I've been doing that sort of thing, so it at least makes me seem a bit self sufficient. It's very easy to get quite lazy when you are not pressed to find a job.

    I'll let you know if I hear anything from them. I'll be pleasantly surprised if I do, but not shocked if I don't. The pay was REALLY good for parttime!
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  • fendrockfendrock 2938 replies299 threads Senior Member
    I wouldn't draw attention to your lack of Quickbooks knowledge by addressing it head on.

    I would focus on what you have to offer.

    If lack of Quickbooks is a non-starter, they will weed you out, regardless of what you say (and it probably isn't the right position for you in any case).
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