Three Simple Steps to an Effective CIO Resume

Susan Hall
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Five Tips for a Well-Done Tech Resume

A tech pro's resume has to match the speed of this fast-changing industry.

I've written that with IT increasingly expected to drive business growth, the CIO resume should detail your leadership in transformational initiatives.


I've also written that to make an impression, cut the gobbledygook, quoting Patrick Gray, president of Prevoyance Group, a strategy consulting company in Charlotte, N.C., saying of business jargon:

There's a thieves code in the corporate world: "I'll use words that sound important but make no actual sense and give you the same privilege if you don't call me out on it."

With that in mind, in an article at Computerworld, professional resume writer Laura Smith-Proulx lists three ways to build an effective CIO resume. She makes some important points. As a professional editor, however, I just want to take a red pencil to the wording in her examples.


In middle-management levels of IT, resume writers often list specific technologies they implemented or teams they led. In contrast, the CIO-level resume needs to focus on company-level contributions, she says.


Here's her advice:

1. Focus on the strategic rather than tactical. You want to show that you can plan strategy at the company level, demonstrate potential to save money and work with major business unit stakeholders.


Her example:


Before: Created risk management profile on aging infrastructures for presentation to executives.

After: Spearheaded creation of five-year strategic road maps instrumental in executive team planning for IT; clearly communicated risk surrounding replacement needs for end-of-life infrastructures.

My comments: The "before" suggests you did the work yourself while the "after" sounds more like you supervised that work or led a team. I think it's important to be clear about that and to state simply what you did. If you presented the results to executives yourself, say so. The "before" leaves that in question.


2. Show how you used technology to drive business. Like all resumes, you need to show the impact of your work, not just that you held a job. The device know as SAR-situation, action, result-is useful here. Describe a business problem, what you did to address it and the result. Smith-Proulx writes:

The relevance to the business need is key, and the actual application, vendor solution or platform used is only part of the story.

Her example:


Before: Implemented SAP ERP system (the second version at the company) in order to promote 100% traceability from raw materials.

After: Facilitated new business by adding SAP ERP capabilities (including 100% raw-material-to-finished-part traceability) that impacted company ability to obtain key industry credentials.

My comments: Her "after" makes my head hurt. Say it simply: "Added SAP ERP capabilities, including total ability to trace raw materials in finished parts. This improved the company's ability to obtain key industry credentials." It doesn't have to all be one sentence.


3. Show strong examples of cost-cutting moves. I'd say you want those examples not only to be strong, but smart. Show that they provided your employer with a competitive edge or with new capabilities as you negotiated key savings through solutions such as virtualization or automation. (And that your cost-cutting left minimal carnage.) Provide specific details.


Her example:


Before: Upgraded data centers, engineering labs and service labs to utilize virtual server technology.

After: Added virtualization solutions projected to secure 135% ROI over three years, with 88% better recovery performance plus decreased facilities and cooling costs; upgraded data centers with no additional staff or space-eliminating $1.2 million in potential costs.

My comments: The level of detail will sell it. I think you can improve it, though, by breaking it into two sentences with a period after "costs." Provide the reader a second to rest amid all those numbers.


Says Smith-Proulx :

... a solid CIO resume can generate results by telling a story that includes specific financial benefits of technology changes, a business-minded focus, and examples of strategic contributions that improve the company's position.

And again, I must reiterate that I am not a resume writer, but a cranky editor. But you get the idea.

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