You’ve finished school, developed technical skills, and gained experience in financial operations. You see a posting for your dream job as a chief financial officer (CFO). How do you accurately capture your business knowledge and extensive experience in a CFO resume?
Hiring managers scan dozens of CFO resumes daily, so yours needs to stand out. Read on as our Arielle executive resume writing professionals explain how to let your knowledge and experience shine.
1. Understand The Role Of A CFO.
A competent chief financial officer aids company growth through debt financing and detail-oriented financial analysis.
As a CFO, you must handle financial operations, ranging from basic accounting to complex business administration.
Before you start your CFO resume, consider why you’re applying and why this organization should select you.
(Related: Top Executive Job Search Trends For 2023).
Research is at the heart of writing a successful chief financial officer resume.
For example, the Wall Street Journal reported that S&P 500 companies experienced an 18% CFO turnover rate in 2021 (15% higher than previous year), with an average retention rate of only five years.
Such demand for CFO experience and skills gives job seekers leverage when applying.
You can research your desired company’s financial history (if it’s public) and the current CFO position.
Doing so will enable you to attack the application from a unique angle, explaining why you would be the ideal candidate for their specific business.
2. Choose A Clean Format.
The main goal of your resume format is to provide information in an impactful way. You should use easy-to-read fonts with neutral colors and minimal formatting.
Consider using Cambria 10- or 12-point font, as you would on any accounting or finance report.
Your resume template should provide the most important information at the top, using bullet points throughout for easy scanning. Here is a basic CFO resume example sequence that you can follow for your template:
- Name and contact information: List your name, CFO job title, contact information, and LinkedIn profile.
- Professional resume summary: Create an elevator pitch for your CFO resume, demonstrating your key abilities and skills, experience, and job highlights in a short section.
- Work experience: In chronological order, list your most recent company first and your oldest experience last. Don’t list irrelevant past jobs.
- Education: Show how your finance degree prepared you for the field. Did you receive any awards, join clubs, or start campus programs?
- Skills section: Include soft and hard skills, using target keywords from the job search listing.
- Additional highlights: If space allows, list volunteer activities, leadership skills, and any relevant interests.
Pro tip: When complete, download and submit your CFO resume template in PDF format to ensure that the financial operations team can view it as you intended.
3. Create A Top-Line Summary Section.
You have 30 seconds to sell yourself. The top-line summary of the resume template is the single-most important opportunity to grab the hiring manager’s attention and explain why you’re the best candidate.
To stand out from the many resumes in their pile, you need to use real figures and back up your claims, demonstrating with a mission statement how you will improve the organization’s finances.
Consider writing your entire CFO resume first before filling in the summary. Go through your key points and highlight the most impressive and relevant areas. Pull this information into your elevator pitch.
Here’s a sample CFO resume top-line summary from our resume template below:
“Results-oriented CFO with 12+ years of experience at improving business revenue and financial strategy. Seeking to help [CFO resume example company] improve its finances. At Company A, I helped increase revenue from $5 to $23 million through targeted acquisitions and streamlined resource allocations; and I managed cross-functional teams to secure a $3 million line of credit.”
4. Customize Your Resume To Meet The Job Description.
Hiring managers use applicant tracking systems to screen resumes in large batches. They may filter out candidates who don’t have the required experience, skills, or degrees.
You can ensure that your CFO resume makes it beyond this initial cut by customizing your resume’s content to align with the job description.
While inventing experience is not recommended, if executed properly, you won’t have to; you can adjust your language to appeal to the hiring manager’s interests.
Draw some of the exact keywords out of the application into your CFO resume to prove that you’re a good fit.
CFO resume customization shows that you researched and spent time developing your application rather than just using a resume builder and sending it to multiple companies en masse.
5. Capture Your CFO Experience Concisely.
Your experience is the most important part of your resume. A few paragraphs should be dedicated to capturing your years of hard-earned successes so the board can see your potential.
Use the following tips when developing the experience section on your resume:
- List your work title first in bold, then the company name, start and end dates, and location.
- Only include relevant experience. A finance resume should not include your summer scooping of ice cream or when you first entered the world of work.
- Sort the roles starting with the most recent. This will ensure your resume remains relevant and in a format that the hiring manager is used to reviewing.
- Only include measurable achievements within the description. Don’t vaguely say you improved a company’s finances; say you increased revenue or reduced expenditure.
- Add figures to back up your resume claims. For example, maybe you increased annual revenue by $2 million through client acquisition.
Only list relevant achievements that the hiring board are interested in. If you happened to re-design a company’s website in one of your previous roles, this wouldn’t have anything to do with your CFO abilities, so omit unrelated content.
6. Broadcast Your Financial Planning Skills And Education.
Your CFO resume skills should include industry terms and buzzwords. Don’t just select words on a whim; pick the terms that align most closely with the successes listed under your job description.
For example, if you helped the company acquire new lines of credit through investors, add “investor relations.”
Pull keywords from this list of CFO resume template skills for your application:
- Hard: Finance, budgeting, financial planning, corporate strategy, reporting, investment management, accounting, SEC, GAAP, cash management, taxes, management information systems, investor relations, financial strategies.
- Soft: Leadership, communication (spoken and written), collaboration, interpersonal skills, organization, critical thinking, time management, problem-solving, adaptability, accuracy.
Don’t list all of the above items. Choose a mix of the most relevant terms that align with your personal experience.
You can use the resume education section to display skills as well. Each portion of the resume should demonstrate your CFO abilities.
Under the education section, add a few bullet points which detail your:
For example, “Started a campus-wide financial initiative that reduced student housing costs by 2%.”
7. Include A Cover Letter.
Cover letters are expected for executive roles. The cover letter should add context to your resume, explaining your achievements with a confident closing.
Keep the cover letter brief, around three paragraphs, mentioning all the top highlights from your resume.
(Related: Top Cover Letter Examples For Executives).
Try opening and closing the letter with impressive achievements and statements that align to the company in question.
For example, if you open with, “I helped X organization increase revenue by $6 million through Y strategies,” you could close with, “I’d love to discuss how I can increase your revenue by $6 million.”
8. View Examples For Inspiration.
Reviewing a successful CFO resume example can help you develop your own.
Review the best executive resume examples, plus the following CFO resume template to see our guide in action.
C-Suite Resume Examples.
The Arielle Executive team has developed guides resume writing guides for every job in the c-suite:
CFO Resume Template.
John Doe, CFO
“Results-oriented CFO with 12+ years of experience improving business revenue and financial strategy. Seeking to help [CFO resume example company] improve its finances. At Company A, I helped increase revenue from $5 to $23 million through targeted acquisitions and streamlined resource allocations; and I managed cross-functional teams to secure a $3 million line of credit.”
May 2014 – December 2022
- Aligned company mission with financial operations to raise revenue from $5 million to $23 million through targeted acquisitions.
- Pioneered widespread audits, financial reporting, and compliance improvements, resulting in decreased spending by 12%.
- Developed profit growth risk management tactics to prevent recurring downward financial trends, resulting in a 110% ROI.
- Managed cross-functional teams for comprehensive budget development to secure a $3 million line of credit.
January 2010 – April 2014
- Supported the new acquisitions of 8 major clients, increasing annual revenue by $6 million.
- Tracked company cash flow, financial planning, and analysis.
- Worked closely with other executives to maximize revenue and reduce operating costs by 18%.
2005 – 2009 Washington University in St. Louis
Masters in Business Administration
- Developed an applicant tracking system for allocating scholarship opportunities.
- Started a campus-wide financial initiative that reduced student housing costs by 2%.
- Hard skills: Finance, corporate strategy, control systems, investment management, investor relations.
- Soft skills: Leadership, written communication, finance problem solving, adaptability.
Our resume writing team at Arielle hopes you can use this CFO resume template as inspiration for your own.
Reach out to us at Arielle for more assistance in crafting and shaping an executive resume for each position you apply to.