Does a CFO Need a Résumé?

Samuel Dergel's Profile

Focus has its benefits. So does the world of social media.

Working in Executive Search, I have focused on delivering human resources of the financial kind to companies for over 11 years now. For the past couple of years, I have put significant time into a sustained and targeted social media effort to let companies (new, current and previous) and CFOs know that I understand them.

As part of this focus and effort, companies ask me to help them hire their CFOs, Chief Financial Officers ask me to help them build their finance teams, and Finance Executives reach out to me when they are in between career opportunities.

When I speak with CFOs, they ask me for my feedback on their résumé. Although I can say that I have read thousands of résumés in my career, I do not consider myself a résumé expert. From time to time I may have a piece of advice that could make the document more effective, but this is not where I add value to a Finance Executive in search of their next opportunity.

On the topic or résumés, I came across a couple of items that piqued my interest recently.

CFO Magazine published an article by David Rosenbaum entitled No Résumés Required. The title interested me. The article was interesting and worth reading, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be about. It did give me the impetus to write this blog piece, so I’m grateful to CFO Magazine for publishing it and to David for writing it.

Cindy Kraft wrote a blog titled I Just Disagree…, where she discusses her disagreement with résumé experts who recommend regular modifying of résumés depending on the position job applications. My comments on Cindy’s blog caused her to disagree with me (finally – we see eye to eye on many topics). It wasn’t actually a disagreement, but when someone says “Interesting perspective, Samuel” what they really mean is…

The premise I made in my comments on Cindy’s blog were:

CFOs who are working don’t need a résumé to attract a new opportunity. All they need is a well done LinkedIn Profile. If the person that finds them needs a résumé, they can use their LinkedIn Profile as a base. I’ve interviewed many quality people based on their LinkedIn Profile alone.

If a CFO has really done their homework and is visible, marketable and branded, the only time they need a résumé is when they are actively looking for their next opportunity.

In essence, there are 2 types of CFOs that can be hired.

  • Employed
  • Unemployed

The Unemployed CFO certainly does need a résumé, because it is (for now, this may change in the coming years) the recognized tool of a job seeker and the people that take employment applications.

The Employed CFO does not need a résumé, nor does he or she need to take the time to prepare one. They are not looking for a job. What an employed CFO needs is to have an appropriate Personal Brand developed, which includes, but certainly not limited to, an effective LinkedIn Profile. When I’m looking for CFOs, my research is wide and varied, and is based on the needs of my client. Whether an Employed CFO has a résumé or not is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is their experience. If they have a proper Personal Branding strategy that leaves an appropriate digital footprint, it certainly makes it easier for me and my team to find them.

I keep on being amazed every week when finalizing my team’s CFO Moves blog, and finding that CFOs who are being hired have a weak LinkedIn Profile, or none at all. In some ways, it makes me wonder how these CFOs get their new job. (Read: When hiring a CFO, is LinkedIn the place to look? ) It does prove that CFOs get their next career opportunities from various sources, but mostly from people that already know them and trust them.

Unemployed CFOs need marketing materials. A solid résumé is still necessary today, in addition to proper Personal Branding.

Employed CFOs do not need a résumé. They just need to have a proper Personal Branding Strategy. If a recruiter asks them for a résumé, they can politely mention that they are not actively looking for an opportunity at this time, and would ask them to refer to their (always) current LinkedIn Profile as a substitute.

Companies hire people, not résumés.


Proformative Advisor
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Very excellent piece (and I mean excellent piece). I would add, that in addition to those who are looking or not; it is not only important to have a personal brand but to NETWORK always and build a nexus of individuals that could be the basis of helping your either find your next job or possibly obtain an offer when you are not looking.

Also, I read somewhere (sorry can't remember where) that the average length of time a CFO is in their position is 18 - 24 months. While I don't know what industry/category (public/private) of CFO's they were talking about, it would seem that one would always need to have their LinkedIn/Resume up to date...


Finally I wrote something you agree with. I'm pleased.

I appreciate your comments. Cultivating a Network culminates in career opportunities flowing your way. A successful Network needs to be fed, developed and nurtured. Unfortunately I see too many CFOs who work furiously at developing their network while in between jobs, and drop all networking activity once they sign their new employment agreement.

My anecdotal evidence is an average of 3 years for CFO tenure, but I've seen CFOs in jobs for a lot longer and a lot shorter.


Topic Expert
Member's Profile

I agree with Samuel on an average 3-year tenure. For awhile, that number was dropping like a bag of bricks but over the last 2-3 years, CFOs have tended to hunker down. Hopefully, they've been networking and raising their visibility while hunkering!

Topic Expert
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Here's an excerpt from my latest blog post ...

We might get to the point where resumes aren’t needed, but once again, in my opinion and from my experience, we are a long way from that place. And I liken the “advice” that a CFO doesn’t need a resume to the same “advice” given by some that everyone should write their own resume. It’s just NOT good advice for some Chief Financial Officers. And that advice is followed to their own detriment.

What happens if you buy in to the mindset that you no longer need a resume, get a call from the percentage of the recruiter population who has a dream job AND requests your resume ... and who isn’t at the place where a Linkedin profile is sufficient? Will you lose out on the opportunity for that dream job? You will if you’re willing to sacrifice a marketing document that clearly delineates your branded MVP - and which takes effort and time to create - for a list of responsibilities and duties (sometimes called a resume) that you throw together in order to fulfill that request.


Your comments and point of view are always appreciated. Considering that we are on the same message 95% of the time, I appreciate your view point on the 5% where we aren't.


Topic Expert
Member's Profile

Ditto that one, Samuel!

Proformative Advisor
Member's Profile

I cannot agree more about the importance of networking not only for job referrals but to learn what others are doing and to find valued service providers. I do think that a good Linked In profile is essential but it does not mean that a resume is meaningless.




I appreciate your comments about networking. You bring up an interesting point about networking that few discuss - "finding valued service providers".

From my experience, CFOs hate to be sold to. I have my theories as to why, but won't go into it now. While they hate to be sold, they do need to buy. Networking to find trustworthy and valued service providers that allow them to do their job better is critically important.

Regarding your comment "does not mean that a resume is meaningless", I am not against the concept of a resume. A resume can be an essential search tool. I am making the case that while the resume for a working CFO is not meaningless, it may not be necessary.

Thanks again Joan,


User picture

Dear Cindy and Samuel,

So who should we believe? :)

Seriously, I have made an effort through the years to keep my resumé up to date even when happily employed, under the theory that one never knows when it will come in handy.

Believe Cindy. :-)

Just know that if you're properly Branded, you will be in a good place to be found when you're not looking.

Most importantly, believe in yourself and let others know it.


Topic Expert
Member's Profile

Indeed, Samuel ... have a strong, compelling, visible personal brand AND an updated resume available for those executive recruiters who are not as far along the curve as Samuel is!