Controller Resume Tips for Success

Regardless of whether you’re a business or financial Controller, your job deals with profits and losses, the balance sheet, financial operations processes, cost-saving measures, and financial systems.

The Controller must demonstrate that he/she is at the top of his/her game to keep the business running soundly and position the company to remain solvent in the future. When you’re in the market for a new Controller position, apply the following Controller resume tips to make your resume top-notch and really communicate, not only your skills and abilities, but also past accomplishments to show how you will excel in the new role.

1. Focus on Results, Not Responsibilities, with Your Controller Resume

Most individuals make the age-old mistake of listing their responsibilities and skills instead of citing their accomplishments. Sure, as a Controller you want the HR representative, CFO or headhunter to understand that you are up-to-speed on GAAP, in addition to knowing your reporting software options and people management skills.

To be most effective, you need to demonstrate these accounting, technical and talent management skills by outlining the accomplishments reflecting these areas from your last position. Your actions will speak louder than your words, and this strategy enables hiring managers to visualize you in the position, as opposed to wondering whether you’re as good in practice as you are in print.

Creating five action-driven statements that explain your accomplishments in a challenge-action-result (CAR) manner from your last job will be more impressive than simply saying you can do the P&L reconciliation.

2. Don’t Let Your People Skills Get Lost In The Mix

In Corporate America, It’s very easy to get caught up in numbers and statistics when it comes to reporting on your accomplishments. These are important and the strongest of these stats should be included in your Controller resume in the proper context.

However, keep in mind that you’re working with other individuals at the company, and that as the Controller, you will be dealing with outside vendors, internal staff, fellow managers and the firm’s clients. Your “soft skills” with people – diplomacy, patience, sense of humor, attention, comprehension, integrity – these matter a great deal in many companies. Potential employers want to ensure that you’re the type of person others want to work for and who can develop key relationships to advance the company’s goals. Excellent candidates have lost jobs because their personalities did not fit in well with their new company culture or foster new vendor relationships. Make sure your Controller resume emphasizes the leadership AND teamwork you have utilized in past positions. List your contributions to work groups, professional associations or executive boards that you have served on in employment situations.

3. Use Appropriate Context to Communicate Your Successes

Right size your experience for your prospective employer target. It’s very important that you communicate within the correct context about your past successes, or you run the risk of seeming “overqualified.” For instance, if you worked as a Controller at one company where you saved $25 million on an initiative and the company earns $200 million per year, and now you’re applying to a company that earns just $30 million per year, our experience may be viewed as too big in scale for the prospective company. It’s better to communicate such fiscal successes using percentages, or to focus on a regional budget, rather than a global budget, that matches the new company’s perspective for greater understanding.

4. Avoid Technical Jargon

While it’s perfectly natural for you as a Controller to discuss KPIs and ROI and DSOs, remember that your resume will pass through the hands of several readers – including some who may not be schooled in accounting-speak and financial acronyms. To make your accomplishments and abilities more impressive to everyone, and to illustrate that you can work with non-financial personnel, spell out acronyms and/or use more approachable terms that everyone can understand. You can always drop in more technical talk when you speak to appropriate, specific executives during interviews once your Controller resume has been read and well-received.

Apply these Controller Resume Tips immediately. Get the most out of your Controller resume by partnering with Lisa Rangel, an expert on executive resumes in many industries and a LinkedIn contributing writer.  Sign up for an exploratory call now and learn about Chameleon Resumes services that can help you with your next career move.

A recruitment professional for over 13 years, Lisa frequently provides career insights and advice. She shares her perspectives with Forbes, LinkedIn,, Investor’s Business Daily, Crains New York, the Chicago Tribune, Fast Company and other popular publishers.


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