Landing a finance role in 2017

Q:  I recently applied for several senior financial management roles.  I have experience at large, international organizations.  The roles I am currently interested in are roles working for smaller organizations.  Typically these roles are working for entrepreneurial start-up organizations.  I am not getting any responses apply online.  I have attached my resume for your review.  Any advice for me?  My New Year’s resolution is to land a new job.


A: Your resume looks quite strong.  It is well-organized and follows a logical format with no gaps in your professional work history. It describes much of what you have accomplished.  It is easy to read with no typos or spelling errors.

However, there is one yellow flag on your resume.  You use words that may scare an entrepreneurial start-up.  Words like “executive” are rarely used in start-ups.  Also, the title “CFO” may turn off start-ups.  Start-ups typically want to hire individuals, even at senior levels, who can roll up their sleeves.  Sometimes even the senior-level financial leader in the organization may help process accounts receivables or payables, especially in the early days.  Start-ups often are eager to hire individuals who don’t need a large team to run the financial side of the business.

If you are targeting smaller organizations, you may want to emphasize your “hands-on” work style or that you are able to run a team efficiently and cost effectively.  You might want to emphasize that you are ok with working for an organization with limited resources.  You may want to remove the word “executive” and replace it with “leader” or something similar.  Entrepreneurial organizations have less of a focus on hierarchy and more of a focus on getting the work done.

Large company names can also scare smaller organizations, because of compensation expectations. Smaller organizations may pay less than larger organizations.  If a hiring manager reads a resume with international experience, a CFO title and the word “executive” used repeatedly, you might be passed over.  Instead the hiring manager may gravitate to candidates who has start-up experience, use titles like finance leader and focus their accomplishments on introducing and implementing systems and processes at a place, where previously there had been none.

Take a critical look at your resume and compare to job descriptions or postings available online, with a focus on roles for smaller companies.  My guess is that you will see that your resume reflects verbiage used more commonly in larger companies.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.