Crafting your perfect CIO resume

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The IT job market has rebounded from the recent recession, and recruiters are looking for skilled IT professionals at all levels of the organization. That includes the CIO, who more than ever needs to be a strategic partner in transforming organizations in this digital economy.

FierceCIO spoke with Rona Borre, founder and CEO of IT recruiting firm Instant Technology, about how a CIO best positions themselves as a job candidate in a competitive market and what the role of the traditional resume is in the current IT hiring space.

FierceCIO: How is the hiring market for CIOs and IT leaders currently?

Rona Borre: I think right now the market is really hot around technology and technology-related positions, all the way from the C-suite on down. Technology is driving businesses more than ever and I think businesses are realizing that if they're not on the cutting edge, if they're not in digital or in social media, that they are really behind the times. So there is a huge push right now, a huge hiring initiative across the board, and it is a really good time to be in the technology space.

Are there any industries or markets that are particularly strong for hiring at the CIO and IT manager level?

I'm here in Chicago, and I'm going to speak a little bit about this market. Not only here in Illinois, but across the country, there seems to be a really good push of VC (venture capital) money to start-ups and new innovative ideas. I think jobs in that community are really starting to thrive. We work with a lot of Fortune 100s and what's going on with the Fortune 100 companies is that they have a lot of carve-out companies in mobility and security, and these big operations that are attracting great talent as well. I'm really seeing it across the board.

We're hearing a lot about the strategic CIO, we're hearing that CIOs need to be in an evolving mode right now because of all the complexities of IT and technology. What are organizations looking for in a CIO hire now?

I think before it was how technology is going to incorporate into the business. Now, it is how technology is going to move the business forward. I think a lot of CIOs need to have a really strong understanding of the digital marketplace: how consumers are interacting online, what they're doing and what the user experience is. A lot of creative; a lot of marketing; a lot of digital type of strategy around that entire space of how a company's products or strategies are going to move forward. It's a very different shift. A really strong technology foundation is key. It used to be that you could understand technology but have this really strong business acumen. But I think it has flipped right now.

What background or experiences should the CIO candidate have to meet these expectations?

Aligning with the right business units--that's going to drive the business. Making sure that those teams are very strong, have strong directives, and a strong strategy and foundation, is key for those people right now.

 

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How does a CIO candidate best demonstrate they have the right stuff?

It's about being able to tell a story and being able to show what you have done throughout an organization to create an end product. No matter whether you're a CIO all the way down, being able to really strongly tell that story with specific examples of what you actually delivered on, and have strong testimony on, is key.

What does an ideal CIO resume look like?

Let me go back to telling a story, and additionally what cutting-edge technologies that you've worked with. Things are moving so rapidly and changing so much, it's hard to have worked with everything. But just being up on everything with seminars, thought leadership, understanding how data is driving innovation in technology. And being able to display this is key to getting a good hire.

So, even if you haven't perhaps worked first-hand with some of the cutting edge technologies you can demonstrate an understanding of their role that will help?

Definitely. You've also got to understand the business and what they're trying to solve at the end of the day. Gear you're resume and your examples around what they're trying to accomplish.

We hear a lot lately about the paper resume being dead and everybody is supposed to be involved with social media and your digital resume and your digital footprint is more important. What is your take on the role of the traditional paper resume for the CIO? Is that still the way to go? Is it the way that most CIOs do go? Are they doing something that is a combination?

I would say a combination of the two. I doubt a CIO is going to get a job because they're tweeting great things at the end of the day. Having a strong portfolio on LinkedIn, and really displaying thought leadership and responsibilities is key. But I also think people are still using paper resumes.

What does a poor CIO resume look like? What would be a CIO resume that would really not excite you?

Just giving overall large-scale views would probably not excite me. I like to get a bit granular and get into very specific items that I can use to bring it back to my organization.

What do CIO candidates do on their resumes that make a recruiter's job harder?

When there is too much information and it's not departmentalized correctly. It needs to tell a story and if there is too much data around all these programs and there is a lot of information that isn't important, it is really hard. People want to see that, OK, this person delivered on X, Y and Z, and they managed this type of project, and with this type of budget.

If you had one minute to advise a CIO candidate on how to craft their perfect resume what would your advice be?

I think it's really important to put your highlights right at the top--what you've done that has been pinnacle in your career. I always like to see key initiatives, key highlights--why I should hire you right away. That will help you make an impact, and then you can get into the details.

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