Straight Answers to Real Questions
Question: I’m currently the CFO of a $150MM food processing company. I’ve been with my current employer for six years, and previously, I’ve had twenty years’ experience in various industries including food service and consumer goods distribution.
I decided to start looking at the market for a new position a month or so ago and have been putting together a new resume. Because I’ve been around for quite a while in a variety of progressively responsible positions in a number of industries, getting it all down on paper is leaving me with a resume that’s far too long (five pages at my last attempt).
How do I get all of my experience on the table in a resume that someone will want to read to the end?
Answer: Let’s start out by defining how long a CFO’s resume should be. My personal take on the subject (and I see a lot of resumes) is that two pages is ideal and three pages is acceptable. Anything over that is War and Peace territory and I don’t know anyone who’s actually read War and Peace all the way through to the end.
Anyone looking at your resume is probably only going to be interested in your last ten years or so of experience. Put another way, most potential employers will want quite a bit of detail on what your current position is all about, and the one you held before that. They’re going to be far less interested in your earlier iterations as a Manager of FP&A or Controller.
When you write up the sections on your current and previous position be sure to give context on the company you work for: industry, size, jurisdictions, ownership, growth history, etc. In terms of your actual position, don’t spend too much time on the day to day stuff; everyone will assume you’ve got a handle on accounting and reporting. Instead, talk about things like special projects, strategic initiatives, acquisitions—areas where you’ve had an opportunity to make a material and positive difference in your role.
As to the rest of your experience, you just need to list previous employers, citing things like industry, revenues, your position and the dates of employment. Unless you’ve worked for more than your fair share of companies, your resume should come in at two, possibly two and a half pages.