Looking for a Job as a Controller? 4 Mistakes You Should Avoid

An accounting professional manipulates financial charts

You're ready to take the next step in your career and start looking for a job as a controller. The good news: Your skills are in demand. Many businesses are hiring for top-notch accounting professionals who can help them analyze strategic decisions from a financial standpoint.

But high demand won't matter much for you if you don't approach your job search in the right way. Sure, you've successfully climbed the ladder to this point. But even senior executives stumble sometimes during a job search. Here are four mistakes to avoid when looking for a job as a controller:

1. Assuming your qualifications speak for themselves
You have a CPA and maybe even an MBA. You've served as a high-level manager in the finance department for several years. All very impressive, but hiring managers would rather hear about your accomplishments than your qualifications. Instead of just listing your job duties on your resume, detail your achievements in your past positions – guiding your company through Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, for example, or helping to streamline the payroll department.

2. Not having a strong enough online presence
You probably have a LinkedIn profile that you've kept updated with promotions and new responsibilities, and that's a good start. But many businesses want their top-line people to be thought leaders. Social media is one of the best avenues for showcasing your ideas and insights about the financial industry.

As you're looking for a job as a controller, make sure you've joined appropriate industry groups on LinkedIn, and contribute to the discussions the members are having by posting links to insightful articles and your own points of view. Consider doing the same through a Twitter account or by contributing articles to financial blogs or professional publications.

3. Forgetting about soft skills

Many financial professionals think first of technical skills. But companies also expect their high-level professionals to have strong soft skills. Controllers need to be good communicators who can take complicated financial reports and translate them into information anyone can understand. They also need to be able to work with many different departments in the company, so collaboration skills are likewise critical. Emphasize these abilities on your resume and in job interviews.

4. Choosing the wrong recruiter – or not using one at all
When you're looking for a job at this level, it's critical to find the right recruiting firm to assist with your search. A staffing agency that specializes in the financial industry will know about the jobs that fit with your skills, experience and career goals, including positions that aren't listed on job boards. Ask friends and trusted colleagues if they can recommend a recruiter or two, and then research each firm to find the one that matches best with your aspirations and working style.

It's a good time to be looking for a job as a controller. Skilled financial professionals are in demand, and salaries are going up. Conduct your job search in a savvy, professional way, and you may even find yourself considering multiple job offers.