How to write a great controller CV

Want to get a job as a financial controller? Use role-specific tips and templates to write a strong CV and maximise your chances of landing an interview!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to write a great controller CV
  2. What to highlight in a controller CV
  3. The structure of a controller CV
  4. Do’s and don’ts for a controller CV
  5. FAQ: Controller CV example

How to write a great controller CV

Controllers take the lead on all accounting-related activities in a business. It’s a role with a lot of responsibility, and hiring managers are unlikely to give you a second look without a convincing CV. 

Using our CV examples and tips below, you’ll be one step closer to securing your new job as a controller.

This guide will show you:

  1. What recruiters want to see on a controller’s CV
  2. How best to structure your controller CV
  3. Tips for writing an effective professional CV


What to highlight in a controller CV

Controller jobs require a deep understanding of accounting operations. As such, hiring managers will want to hear about your previous involvement with important financial processes like tax compliance, budgeting, payroll, financial reporting,\ and financial planning.

You should show a solid grasp of industry-specific accounting policies and compliance laws that apply to the employer’s organisation. When discussing your professional experience, focus on the big achievements that helped improve the financial health of your former employers.

Given that controllers lead the accounting team and are responsible for reporting to senior management, you’ll also want to highlight your communication skills, leadership qualities and other related soft skills.


The structure of a controller CV

The structure of your controller CV will vary depending on your chosen CV format. There are three options:

  • Chronological — This format emphasises work experience.
  • Functional — This format focuses on skills.
  • Combination — This format balances skills and work experience.

The chronological format is the format favoured by most hiring managers. It’s also the format we use with the controller CV example below. But no matter which format you use, your curriculum vitae will feature these sections – they’ll just be in a different order, depending on the format.

Header

Add your contact details to the CV header at the top of the page. This information includes your:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Professional email address
  • Address
  • Professional profile link, such as your LinkedIn

Present this information clearly so that the hiring manager can quickly reach out to, should they be impressed with your application.

Professional summary or career objective

A professional summary is a brief overview of the skills that best qualify you for the role. A career objective is similar but also states your career goals. A professional summary works best if you already have several years of experience. For controller and CFO applications, it’s therefore advisable to use a professional summary.

Skills

Use the skills section to tailor your CV to the role’s requirements. To do this, read through the required skills in the job description and pick out three to five to include on your CV.

Role-specific hard skills include:

  • Auditing
  • Forecasting
  • Financial analysis
  • Cash flow management
  • Tax returns
  • Risk management
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Financial statements
  • Accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable
  • GAAP
  • Accounting software, such as QuickBooks
  • Computer skills, such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint

Here are some relevant soft skills:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability

Aim for a mix of soft and hard skills, with a slightly greater weight on hard skills.

Work history

In the work experience section, run through the previous jobs you’ve held (up to the last 10 years). For each position, list the responsibilities and achievements most relevant to the role you’re applying to in bullet points. Use specific examples and performance metrics to support your points. For example, you could quote the percentage of net profits increased under your supervision.

Education

If you have a master’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting or another related field, list it in your education section. Only include your highest level of education. You can also include relevant certifications in this section, such as your CPA licence.


Do’s and don’ts for a controller CV

Use the tips below to write the perfect CV.

Do:

  • Quantify your experience. 

The role of a controller is all about getting results. Where possible, include statistics and other performance data from your previous positions to demonstrate the positive impact you made.

  • Tailor your CV to the job. 

Financial compliance laws will differ from industry to industry. Research the regulatory framework of your employer’s industry and tailor your CV accordingly.

  • Use a CV template.

CV templates are a great option if you want a professional-looking curriculum vitae without the hassle of having to design it yourself. Visit the CV Builder to get started.

Don’t:

  • Include irrelevant experience.

There’s no reason to discuss previous work experience if it isn’t relevant to the controller role. Similarly, with your education section, reference only accounting-related qualifications.

  • Stray from the truth. 

For such a senior position, you may feel the need to embellish your skills and experiences. Don’t fall into this trap, as it will likely cost you later in the process.

  • Forget to proofread. 

 As a controller, attention to detail is key. Even the smallest of mistakes in spelling or grammar will likely lead the hiring manager to discard your application.


FAQ: Controller CV example

Q: Do I need to include a cover letter for a controller job application?

Writing a cover letter is an important step in your job search. Unless the job posting explicitly states not to, always write a cover letter to accompany your CV. The cover letter is your chance to expand on your key skills and explain any gaps in your CV.

Q: What is the best way to write a CV for a controller job application?

For a controller or CFO job application, use the chronological CV format. Start with your contact details, followed by a professional summary, skills section, work history, and education section. Focus on previous experience implementing accounting best practices and monitoring financial health.

Q: How do I change my controller CV to apply to different jobs?

Always tailor your curriculum vitae to the role and industry of the employer. For each new position you apply to, rewrite the professional summary to fit the needs of the role. Also, adapt the skills section to include some desirable and required skills listed in the job description.

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