Take a selfie: what's lacking on the CV of the CFO?


Why are CVs of many CFOs ill-prepared, full of mistakes and lacking relevant information? In this Expert Insight Fowzia Gamiet, Senior Associate: Financial Recruitment at CA Global Finance answers this question and tells Chief Financial Officers how it’s done.

As you may have heard (and could probably be considered as a cliché by now) "recruiters browse hundreds of CVs daily". It is true. Our inbox gets inundated with applications for positions whether suitable for it or not. We often find people without any experience applying for executive level roles in hopes that their leadership skills as a Prefect would suffice as proven experience of leadership skills. With job opportunities so scarce and the market flooded with jobs requiring "proven experience in a similar sector" it is quite understandable how one resorts to desperate measures. It's a tough market out there.

As CFO, however, you're at the top of the corporate food chain and gaining years of experience is certainly not your biggest job-hunting concern.

Profile of a CFO
CFOs have gained invaluable experience over their career. They possess a special kind of background that companies look for, to take the organisation to the next level. Skills that are prevalent in most CFO profiles include:

  • Qualified Chartered Accountant (or equivalent)
  • Experience in an audit firm
  • 10+ years of experience

The stricter, more elite companies would look for additional skills such as:

  • Experience within a similar sector
  • Language-specific requirements

Depending on the sector in which you operate in, a CFO generally has the background that allows them to take their pick of job opportunities. So why, oh why are some CFO's CVs not at the standard that would be expected from someone heading up the financial departments of a multinational organisation? I have asked myself this question on countless occasions and could not understand why, in the age of Microsoft Word (with spell check and grammar correction features) and Online CV templates, ill-prepared CFO CVs exist?

And then I realised… contained within the perks of being a CFO is a wonderful Executive Assistant. The Executive Assistant is a highly skilled right-hand-person to the CFO. They basically manage the CFO's every move, often overlapping into the personal realm, so that he or she can run the company with the other C-level executives!

So what is lacking in your CV?
With the skills that you have gained over the years - managing people, expanding your networks, studying further, registering with professional financial institutions, attending seminars and ensuring that your financial knowledge is always on par with the prevailing legislative requirements - it is a shame to leave it up to someone else and throw away the ability to showcase your skills in a manner that does your profile full justice. The jargon around certain technical skills under your belt are better explained by yourself!

Common errors in CVs include:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • No contact information (personal email address and contact number)
  • Duties and responsibilities performed at your company

How to market your skills on your CV
Whilst many CFO do have somewhat of a general profile, within that is contained specifics about what differentiates you from the next CFO. It is vital to the Recruiter who is headhunting you, to understand your skills in a manner that they are able to best represent you to their portfolio of clients.

Recruiters are asked to send CVs of their top eight to ten CVs for a particular position. When you are faced up against nine other CFOs on paper, how does your experience stand out in comparison? Each CFO has reached that level by taking a career path that has allowed them to gain specialised experience in their field. You need to make your specialised skills known, in the form of detailing your knowledge, duties, responsibilities, countries managed, compliance expertise, operations that you have set up from scratch and all other expertise that is specific to you, that would make you the obvious choice to the prospective company. You need to ask yourself: "What will make me stand out? What will make MY CV clinch that interview?"

Perhaps a good idea for a plan of action to take control of what's on your CV, would be to view drafting your own CV as the professional equivalent of taking a selfie.

Oxford Dictionary: A selfie is a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.

I'm not sure if CFOs are huge selfie-takers at all but perhaps this professional notion might appeal to you. Take control of your CV and do-it-yourself to accomplish maximum results. That would be my advice.

All the best!

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