Tough Love — The Opening Paragraph

WANTED: Controller/VP Finance, for $50 million and rapidly growing government contractor, to bring order to the Accounting Department and improve cash flow.

CANDIDATE 1:   Results driven, hands-on Controller with 9 years’ experience at a government contractor and a CPA. Adept at strategy formulation and implementing change. Talented leader able to build and direct top-performing teams. Excellent communication skills and references. Seeking a challenging, growth-oriented manager role with a reputable firm where I can use my accounting and leadership skills, and further my professional development.


CANDIDATE 2:   Controller/CPA with 9 years’ experience in government contracting. Reduced Days Sales Outstanding 60% and month-end close to 4 days; implemented new financial system on budget and schedule; received clean audits for 3 years in which I was responsible; improved retention of accounting staff; increased availability of project financials to managers from monthly to weekly to improve their picture of project spend vs funding and profitability; and prepared solid incurred cost submissions and closed-out old projects.

Who do you want to interview?

There’s no shortage of advice on resume writing. I’m really just interested in the opening paragraph. The OP should let me know if you can do what I need you to do for me. The rest of the resume is just there to prove what you’ve told me in the opening paragraph.

Then again, (sarcasm alert) if it’s easier for you, you can send me the same generic opening paragraph that’s all about what you want and that you send out to everyone, and maybe I’ll use what little free time I have to try to figure out if behind that ‘you-centered’ resume is a person that may be able to help me.

So what should the opening paragraph look like? Write the ideal OP that would get your target employer to hire you on the spot. Now, back off to reality. Prepare your true OP that’s as close to the ideal one as honesty allows. The rest of your resume and references are just there to substantiate your OP. If you’re into jargon, you might call it an employer-centered vs candidate-centered opening paragraph.

It’s difficult to write a spot-on OP if you don’t know the role of the position for which you are applying or understand the industry. But that’s the point—if you do understand the role and industry, the hiring manager will see that you recognize her issues and can solve them.

Anyway, that’s what I think—Andrew Chase

About JustinBradley

JustinBradley delivers exceptional financial talent. Our three business lines—Recruiting and Interim Staffing; Project Solutions; and Executive Search—provide the right talent for our clients’ finance, accounting, financial systems and business requirements.


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