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About the Author
Chris Arendale joined SAP Concur in 2013, and was named Chief Financial Officer in April 2018. As a certified CPA, Mr. Arendale has served in various leadership roles within the Finance organization, managing the billing and revenue assurance functions for SAP Concur. He was instrumental in integrating the finance functions of SAP Concur and SAP, as well as migrating to a new system. Prior to joining SAP Concur, Mr. Arendale worked for nearly a decade in the telecom industry across financial teams at leading enterprise companies AT&T and Cbeyond.

Tips to Identify Standout Controller Candidates

SAP Concur Employee
SAP Concur Employee
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A resume is generally your first exposure to the individual who will eventually oversee the financial numbers that run your business. Whether it’s you or someone from recruiting sifting through resumes, identifying top candidates can be challenging. It doesn’t take long before they start looking like copies of one another.


You want candidates that are the best fit for you and your business – those with the skills and experience that surpass all others, right? But how do you differentiate those resumes and conversations to ensure you’re hiring the controller who best fits your business?


To help you quickly identify standout controller candidates from the rest of the crowd,

look for applicants with competencies and demonstrated experience in these key areas:


  • Leadership and people management
  • Industry knowledge
  • Process improvement and implementation
  • Automation and technology


Let’s explore each of these a bit more . . .


Leadership and people management


Whether your new controller will manage a team or be an individual contributor, they should have a record of strong leadership and collaboration. Your controller will need to work with teams across the organization to identify areas of improvement. And, to implement changes they will need to influence people through their leadership and people skills. You also want a controller that has a proven ability to help others grow and succeed.


Someone with strong leadership and people management experience might have something like this in their resume:


“Led and mentored a team of five through double digit company growth where we all took on new tasks to scale with the organization without expanding the team and had zero attrition.”


Look for mentions of the following leadership and people management skills:


  • “Acted as liaison with project teams to develop and improve finance solutions, including the design and review of IT systems.”
  • “Led a team to create and maintain financial performance metrics.”
  • “Built a team of top performing accounting professionals with responsibilities for the general ledger, tax, payroll, accounts payable, financial reporting, expense analysis and external audit relationships.”
  • “Provided leadership with a vision for scaling the team and financial infrastructure to keep up with the demands of a high-growth business.”
  • “Coached and mentored team members to help them accomplish their goals and objectives.”


Industry knowledge


In a perfect world you would find a controller who already knows and understands your business through and through. While that might be rare, you can find one that has knowledge of your industry and some of the intricacies that come with it. The trick here is to identify what is unique about your industry, so you know what to look for. That may include some of the following:


  • Sales margins and verification of staff commissions
  • Managing leased and owned equipment
  • Industry specific software or technology
  • Multiple locations in multiple states
  • Handling of grants, mergers, or acquisitions


Process improvement and implementation


Resumes of standout controller candidates should include examples of how they created or implemented processes that drove improvements within their finance organization and the business. Solid examples will include metrics that showcase the positive impact delivered to the business. Here’s an example:


“Identified excess sales tax paid on tax exempt projects over prior three years and submitted a refund claim that resulted in a tax refund from the Department of Revenue of $185,000. Implemented a yearly process to ensure similar mistakes were caught in the future.”


Look for process improvements that demonstrate experience:


  • Documenting policies, procedures, and workflow to ensure compliance with and adherence to all regulatory guidance and internal policies and procedures
  • Implementing new accounting policies in collaboration with executive team members
  • Leading process improvements that increased accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency of the team
  • Identifying opportunities for scale and growth through automation efficiencies
  • Using creative thinking and problem solving to initiate conceptual ideas with practical applications


Automation and technology


Having a controller with knowledge and skills in finance automation and technology can set your company up for future success and growth. If you don’t already have expense and accounts payable automation software, this is the time to hire a controller with experience to help bring on technology that can help your business thrive and grow. If you already have the technology your business needs, an experienced controller can help make the most of your investments.


Look at candidate resumes for phrases and statements that showcase their experience with technology, for example:


“Implemented an AP automation system that reduced our per invoice expense cost by over 50%.”


Technology savvy controllers may also have callouts in their resumes such as:


  • “Experience with selecting and overseeing software installations and managing relationships with software vendors; advanced knowledge of accounting, budgeting, forecasting, and reporting software.”
  • “Led accounting system automation and integration into company-wide business intelligence tools to reduce manual intervention and accelerate accounting procedures.”
  • “Implemented expense and AP systems of automation to streamline accounting objectives.”


Use this information to help select candidates and you’ll be sure to have successful and productive interviews that will lead to you hiring the best possible candidate for your business.