You would think a C-suite executive wouldn’t have to write resumes. After all, isn’t your experience proof enough that you’re successful at what you do?
Of course, your work history is crucial. But do you know how to position yourself?
How do you write a Chief Financial Officer resume that will get you the job?
Our extensive guide will teach you how to tackle each resume section, as well as how to:
- Align your practical experience and achievements with the job description
- Make your resume ATS friendly and appeal to recruiters
- Build a convincing cover letter
Decide on a suitable format for your CFO resume
Nobody becomes a C-suite executive in a day. Unless you have a rich family who has a spare company in need of a CFO.
This means you already have at least 7-8 years of experience under your belt. As such, the reverse-chronological resume format is your best chance to showcase what you can do.
Alternatively, if most of your experience consists of:
- Being a board member or advisor of different committees
- Operating as a financial manager and advisor to companies in different business niches
- Mix of financial positions at both nonprofit and for-profit companies
…you can use the hybrid resume format. This layout will help you display a versatile skills set, while boasting a variety of achievements.
If you’re applying for a CFO role for the first time, the hybrid resume can also provide enough space to share skills developed outside of formal job roles.
But remember, this is an executive-level position. Both hiring managers and C-suite professionals prefer more traditional formats.
So, choose wisely!
Now, what about document types and formatting? A few weeks ago, we set out to test how different resume layouts perform with various ATS tools.
Here is what our research found out:
- File Format: You can send your resume both as an MS Word and a PDF file. But PDFs are preferable because they preserve the design, format and stylings you’ve used.
- Colors and Design: As we mentioned above, when reviewing executive-level resumes, recruiters look for a more traditional and conservative look.
- Length/Columns: You may be tempted to include every single past role you’ve held. This is where editing is key. Let the job ad guide you. Try to fit within a page.
- Section Headings: ATS software is sensitive when it comes to section headings. You must explicitly state what each section of your resume contains.
- Fonts: Keeping it traditional doesn’t mean you have to use Times New Roman. ATS tools accept all of the popular Google fonts, so don’t hesitate to choose one you like.
If you’ve already been more than 10 years in the workforce, be selective about the experience you share.
Feature only relevant entries and try not to go back further than a decade.
If you want your resume to look conservative, yet not bland, use your potential employer’s brand colors. But don’t go overboard with the overall design.
Frame your resume header as a business card
The resume header contains your basic information, as well as links to your portfolio. Think of it as the business card you give to potential clients and partners.
What do you want them to know about you? How do you want to be perceived?
Start by listing your:
- First and last name
- Current job title or the title closest to what your current responsibilities are. Remember to add your qualifications, such as CPA or MBA, if you have them.
- Phone number
- Professional email address
- Relevant social media handles, such as your LinkedIn profile
If you have a personal website where you share the work you do, include it. Hiring managers would love to see more of the challenges you tackle in your day-to-day work life.
When you have everything down, your resume header should look something like this:
Build a convincing Chief Financial Officer resume summary
Serving as a CFO means that both your financial and your sales skills are on par with current standards.
One of the top skills for a salesperson is persuasion. And this is what your resume summary must do for you, if you want to impress your potential employer.
Explain why you are the best fit for the position and highlight some relevant achievements to support your claims.
How do you do that?
The basic structure of a resume summary is as follows:
- Start with how many years of experience you have as a financial specialist.
- Continue by sharing your proudest work achievements
- Finish off by detailing your professional qualifications and skills you excel at
To make an even greater impact, don’t go over 100 words or roughly 5-6 sentences.
This will make it easy for you to pick which accomplishments to share, but also easy-to-read for recruiters.
Moreover, by naming your key talents and tools, you’ll increase your chances of passing the ATS tests.
Think of the ATS software as a matchmaking tool. It checks whether the skills you’ve mentioned match the one in the job ad.
At the same time, because the ATS tools read resumes from top to bottom, the sooner you mention your talents, the better.
Check out some of the examples we have prepared for you below:
Curate the experience section of your Chief Financial Officer resume
You’ve already featured some of your accomplishments in the summary to grab recruiters’ attention. But your job is not done here.
There’s nothing worse than starting with a bang only to have things fizzle out by the time hiring managers get to the most important part of your resume.
Your goal is to explain how your career has progressed so far and where you see yourself in the future. Each experience section entry consists of the:
- Name of your employer with a short description, outlining its business focus.
- Company’s website
- Job title you held during your tenure
- Dates of your employment or your participation in a particular project. Note that consistent formatting is crucial to pass the ATS tests.
- No more than 5 bullet points accentuate how your efforts have contributed to your employers business goals.
The best way to emphasize the impact of your work is by quantifying it. Lead each bullet point with an action verb, then explain the challenges you’ve managed to overcome.
Whenever possible, include numbers and data to add detail to your story. For example:
“Enhanced financial forecasts by reducing errors and report time by 30% and 52%, respectively, after I leveraged available data and built a new reporting model. ”
“Prevented a $96 million financial loss by conducting an internal audit which identified 7+ issues with the financial risk and security mitigation systems set in place 5 years ago.”
Make sure you:
- List your entries in a reverse-chronological order
- Stay relevant to the job description
- Don’t include positions you’ve held more than 10 years ago
Use the following sample experience section as a reference:
- Reduced business operation inefficiencies and costs by 130% over 614 client accounts in the span of 3 years.
- Achieved consistent 8.5% YoY revenue growth for the top 17% companies under my management.
- Negotiated client's vendor contracts, thus reducing a total of $1.3 billion in costs for the company's top 1% clients.
Include your academic credentials in your resume
Needless to say, your education is crucial because it’s the foundation of your career. With that being said, given that this is a senior position, don’t include your high school degree.
Even if you have only a bachelor’s degree, focus your resume on your college degree and certifications.
Remember your resume’s education section must detail the:
- Name of your degree
- Name of the your college or university
- Years you’ve attended the institution
- Your GPA, if you obtained your degree within the last 5 years
- Location of the issuing institution, if it’s relevant to the position
Here is a simple way to frame it:
List a balanced mix of relevant Chief Financial Officer skills
Why does your resume need a balanced skills section?
Because it proves that you are the well-rounded superstar fit for the position. You have to be able to communicate with both financial gurus and non-specialists.
To boot, it will help you tailor your resume according to the job description.
As we mentioned in the beginning, listing hard skills will tick all the ATS relevancy checks. By contrast, the soft skills you cite will get you noticed by recruiters.
Let’s tackle the types of talents one by one. Starting with your technical abilities, we’ve created a list with the most popular CFO skills currently trending:
Vital 52 technical skills for a Chief Financial Officer
- Financial analysis and reporting
- Financial forecasting and projections
- Financial planning and strategy
- Fiscal help
- Financial modeling
- Accounts payable
- Accounts reconciliation
- Cash flow and tax management
- Cost management
- Data analytics
- Market analysis
- Revenue and profit growth
- Cross-functional coordination
- Strategic business planning and execution
- Investment management
- Organizational development
- Project management
- Relationship building and nurturing
- Partnerships development
- Contract negotiation
- Stakeholder relations management
- Investor relations
- Information system management
- Risk compliance and management
- Regulatory compliance
- Standards and practices
- Leadership skills
- Team management skills
- Collaboration skills
- Coaching and mentorship skills
- Optimization skills
- Performance management
- Public Speaking
- Business acumen
- Database management
- MS Office
- G Suite
Most of these are easy to quantify. The other ones can be tested on the spot during the interview.
Yet, how do you describe your social talents?
Soft skills showcase the impact of your professional efforts. Think about how your boss and colleagues talk about what you do.
Have you helped the company achieve its goals? Has your work shone the spotlight on your team? Does your work style inspire others around you?
Hiring managers are searching for leaders who can pull both the company and its employees up.
Again, you must be able to link your achievements to verifiable numbers. Use data and numbers to quantify the impact of your work:
By doing so, you show that you take your job very seriously and consider the consequences of your actions.
If you can’t think of any relevant social talents off the top of your head, we have some suggestions for you:
Necessary 30 soft skills for a Chief Financial Officer
- Presentation skills
- Persuasion skills
- Explanation skills
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Analytical skills
- Critical thinking
- Time management
- Organizational skills
- Task delegation
- Collaboration skills
- Consulting skills
- Being innovative
- Being confident
- Hard working
- Multitasking skills
- Being able to think outside the box
- Fast learner
- Ability to work in a stressful environment
Outline your Chief Financial Officer certificates
Finance and accounting is a huge academic and professional field. You can’t possibly specialize in everything, unless you dedicate your life to it.
This is where certifications come in handy. They show where your focus lies and how you want to continue developing professionally.
And certifications are what makes you stand out among other job candidates. When talking about your qualifications, mention the:
- Name of your certificate
- Validity date, if applicable
- Year you’ve obtained the document or projected year of completion
- Name of the college, university or international organization, issuing the diploma
Some of these include:
Prestigious 14 Chief Financial Officer certificates for your resume
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountant (CIMA)
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
- Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
- Certified Treasury Professional (CTP)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
- Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
- Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)
- Accredited Business Valuator (ABV)
- Certified Financial Controller (CFC)
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Add some character to your resume by attaching other sections
Another way to impress hiring managers is to dedicate some space for other sections on your resume.
Being a C-level executive means that your professional activities don’t stop at working as a Finance manager. The ability to network and stay on top of industry trends is key.
As such, some relevant sections you can incorporate are:
- Association memberships (ACCFO, AICPA, AAA, IIA, AFA, etc.)
- Side projects, publications, and papers
- Clubs, passion projects, and honors
- Hobbies (for instance, networking and team building sports, such as golf)
Make your case by building an effective CFO cover letter
Use your presentation and sales skills to show that you have the ability to:
- Bring the same confidence and know-how to continue on your success path
- Fit with the team of executive already on board
Write an exceptional cover letter to match your application. A simple structure you can follow when writing is:
- Devote the first paragraph to addressing the hiring manager and flaunting your proudest accomplishments.
- Explain why your business acumen, expertise and abilities make you the perfect job candidate
- End your cover letter by mentioning when you’re available for further discussions. Don’t forget to thank the hiring manager for their time.
- Choose the reverse-chronological format as your resume layouts
- Include your professional titles, such as CPA or MBA in the resume header
- Turn your resume summary into a sales pitch by flaunting your best achievements
- Curate the experience section and tailor it to the job description
- Create a good balance between the social and techn