Another boring Resume!!
As I took the time the other day to update my own resume, I decided to google "CFO resumes" to see what is the latest and greatest in terms of design, layout, content and packaging. To my surprise and after scrolling page after page, they all look almost the same. Of course the content is what counts and obviously, in that case they are all different. But If I'm an HR Manager going through 100's of resumes on a daily basis and spending a brief time on each resume I would expect that the "packaging" is somewhat creative and enticing, just like the packaging for laundry detergent or beer or any other item that you see in your local supermarket. Packaging in many consumer products is so important so why not apply the same concepts to resume writing?
In contrast, I google resumes for Graphic Designers and of course they are as creative and wild as you can imagine. Sure, a CFO position doesn't have much in common with a Graphic Designer position, but is there a way for CFO resumes to be at least a bit "catchy" as a point of differentiation? We all know that your resume has a life of 10 seconds. In those 10 seconds the average hiring manager makes a decision of whether your resume goes in the right pile or the left pile. Can the packaging be improved just enough for the HR Manager to place your resume on the right pile? Or enough to give you 15 seconds instead of 10?
Businesses that don't differentiate themselves from the competition often struggle to the point of bankruptcy. How many restaurants have you seen one after another one on the same corner? Your job searching is just like a business, you must find ways to differentiate from your competition. If one of the job requirements for a CFO job is to have a "CPA with public experience", how many people do you think meet this requirement? Yes, probably 1000's. So how do I differentiate my resume from every other CFO out there?
As you can imagine, I applied some creativity to the packaging and then I put a lot of emphasis on the content. Specifically, I created a black and white resume. Black background and white lettering. Yes it is impactful, and yet, maybe too creative for this type of job, but I wonder if the hiring manager will pause and take an extra few seconds to read the content now that I caught his/her attention.
A resume with a colored background will certainly not print very well or you may have trouble uploading it into the recruiter's or company's website. As an alternative, you can use a lighter grey color with black letters and still achieve some level of differentiation. But if this is too dramatic for your taste, keep the background white and let's talk about the content changes that I'm advocating. For a senior person that is looking for the next opportunity, you must have an idea of what type of opportunity you are looking for, you must also know what you can do for that company and why you are good at that. So why not say that at the beginning? Rather that have the same "Executive Summary" and the same 50 plus key words under the "Areas of Expertise" that everyone has.
I decided to introduce 4 areas in the first page:
What I can do for you?
Why I can help you?
Specific Areas of Expertise (related to the above two answers)
The Most Recent Accomplishments (covering only the last 5 to 10 years of my career)
Then in the second page I briefly described prior accomplishments and education. The goal here is that if I only have 10 seconds I want the reader to spend 8 on the first page. As an example, if you are seeking for pre-IPO CFO job and assuming that you have that experience, then the first two sections could look like this:
What I can do for you? Make the necessary transformational changes in the company such as strengthening the organizational structure, revamping internal controls to be in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley and implementing new financial reporting systems in order to take the company public.
Why I can help you? As a CFO, I have taken 2 companies public in the NYSE and NASDAQ. Achieved a double digit stock growth over the first 5 years in each case and provided a 15% return on equity to the shareholders.
In summary, to make the 10 second count requires differentiation with a bit of creativity and good content management. You may want to tailor the questions that you want to answer depending on the situation, but you must clearly and concisely answer the question of why you are the right candidate, rather than letting the recruiting manager figure that out by having to read your entire resume. You only have 10 seconds so make them count.
Ricardo Lowe, CPA email@example.com