Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

Five Tips for Writing a Killer CIO Resume

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Jan 20, 2012 8:30:00 AM

Thanks to CIO Magazine for the logo.CIO resumes

The top technology authority in an organization can be the CIO (Chief Information Officer), CTO (Chief Technology Officer),VP of IT (Vice President of Information Technology) or one of the newer hybrid titles that emphasizes leadership in both the business and technology organizations.

What aspects of your role do you want to emphasize in your CIO resume? How much do you want to emphasize your technology credentials versus your business acumen? Is the job you are targeting looking for a CIO who is primarily an innovator, a business leader, or a technologist? What is the role of the CIO in your target company? A full business partner, a support to the business, someone who ensures business agility, someone who makes sure the networks work, or other?

It's important to customize your CIO resume to the particular position, given the wide variability in corporate expectations of the top technology leader. But whichever slant you take, you need to pay attention to the following when writing your CIO resume (or CTO resume or VP of IT resume).

1. Establish your leadership brand in the top third of page one and consistently reinforce it in the body of your executive resume. This is where you incorporate the answers to the questions above for the particular company.

2. Tie your accomplishments in technology to their impacts on the business as a whole; consider P&L and margin improvement, cost reduction, risk management / security, business process improvements, product innovation, providing a platform for high growth etc.

3. As the top technology authority, emphasize your ability to think and plan strategically about technology and the wider business.

4. Leave summary of your technology skills to the end of your executive resume or leave them off altogether; you will most likely, in companies larger than startups, be managing the managers of hands-on technologists.

5. For each position, give Challenge-Action-Results stories that demonstrate the mission-critical nature of the challenges you faced, how you strategized and exercised leadership, and what the results were in both technology and business terms.

Follow these tips and you will be a long way towards writing a great CIO resume. For general tips on what makes for a great technology executive resume, click here.


Topics: executive resumes, executive resume, IT executive resume, CIO resume, CTO resume, VP of IT resume, technology executive resume

Executive Resume Checklist: 15 Criteria to Meet

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Jan 16, 2012 4:34:00 PM

 Executive resume checklist

Executive Resume Checklist

Unsure what you need to do to capture the attention of both search engines and recruiters and hiring authorities? This executive resume checklist will show you what you need to do with your resume to stand out in a competitive field of applicants.

Your personal / career brand and your value proposition

1. The reader can grasp a "reason to hire you" inside of 3 seconds.

2. The recruiter or hiring authority can get a sense of your career brand, that is, what makes you YOU professionally and distinguishes you from the competition.

3. The recruiter or hiring authority can find out precisely what your value proposition is - of supreme importance to the company.

4. Any other credentials relevant to your job such as certifications, multiple languages, global experience, big awards etc. can be found here.

5. You used a headline rather than a career objective unless you are targeting a significantly different career.

6. You customized your resume to the position you are targeting.

7. You matched your career brand and value proposition to the needs of the organization you are applying to.

8. You include any unusual and impressive non-work-related outside activities, community contributions, or skills, because perceived performance excellence in one area transfers to the work arena and this information will make you even more memorable.

Proving your value proposition in the body of your executive resume

9. Your accomplishments are expressed, as much as possible, in quantifiable terms in the body of the resume.

10. Your accomplishments are presented in context, so their proper significance can be understood.

11. Your 5 to 7 chief accomplishments over the last decade (one for each position) stand out visually so they can be viewed in a 3-second scan, with the sub-accomplishments under each of them.

Getting the formatting right

12. Your resume can be read easily across media, including on paper, on a laptop or desktop computer, on a tablet device, and on a smart phone.

13. Your resume uses the appropriate keywords for your function and your industry along with the critical obscure, rarer keywords customized to the position you are targeting.

14. You use common headings for the resume sections so that applicant tracking software will correctly read what's under them, i.e. Professional Summary, Professional Experience, and Education.

15. You have different versions of your resume for electronic and for human processing.

If, when you review your executive resume, you can check off all of these, you will be in a good position to capture interviews for the positions you are targeting!


Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, executive resume writing, executive resume, IT executive resume

Job Search Tip: Distracted & Mentally Stressed? Move Over Meditation!

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Dec 15, 2011 8:31:00 AM

Refreshing Your Focus in Your Job Search

Ever had someone tell you to meditate to reduce stress? Ever felt you couldnt? I've heard so many people say, "I just can't meditate." And there are times when I have trouble meditating too. Well, last night I heard a lecture from a Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychologist that cited a cool study validated in both US and Europe.

The study was designed to test whether certain activities could actually refresh attention and improve distractibility for students at the University of Michigan before they took on tasks requiring intense focus.

As a job seeker, you know all about stress and the need to be fully attentive! For instance, you need to be all "on" when you are reaching out to others in your networking process, planning out your job search strategy, customizing your resume to a position, and, most challenging of all, having to be highly mentally focused in meeting and interview situations.

The UMichigan test had students accomplish a mentally tiring task. Then the researchers split them into two groups. One half walked around the downtown area. The other half walked in a nearby arboretum.

When re-tested, the arboretum walkers improved 20% (!) on a test of attention and memory given pre- and post-walk. The students who walked through the busy town center didn't improve at all.

The conclusion from this and other studies is that attention can be restored through activities that enable the mind to unfocus for a while. The best places to do this have been natural settings like woods, churches, and monasteries. Looking at paintings at the art museum, even going to your favorite Starbucks or coffee bar have been shown to accomplish the same result.

So, if you are spending a good proportion of your time highly focused on your job search, take some daily restoration time doing one of the activities above. And, before an interview, take a walk in the woods. You will go into the meeting with improved focus and abililty to leverage "directed, selective, and focused" attention. (It may also help you before holiday family dinners as well, particularly if you have siblings who push your buttons!)


Topics: job search, interviewing, IT executive resume, job interview

How to Answer the Age Question in a Job Interview

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Dec 13, 2011 3:39:00 PM

Counter the Age Question in a Job Interview

It's the elephant in the room. Employers aren't allowed to ask how old you are, but some interviewers try to get at your age indirectly by asking in what year you graduated or how old your children are. If you are sensing that your age is subtly or not so subtly being raised, try to deflect it by taking Scott Berry's approach: answer with another question. Instead of "I'm 54" try "How old is the demographic you are targeting?" If that doesn't work, here's another response that addresses the question directly and head-on (assume this interview is for a technology sales job):

"I'm glad you asked about age. I've given this some thought, and there are 6 distinct advantages I bring to the table directly relating to my having worked more than just a few years:

  1. I would be a low-risk hire. As you can see from my resume, my career has progressed steadily, demonstrating that I have been highly valued by all of my employers and exceeded expectations in every position. That's a good predictor of what you can expect from me.
  2. I can help you meet your numbers. Six months down the road, you can be pretty sure that your top- and bottom-line will be improving. (Show resume, spreadsheet, portfolio, graphs etc. demonstrating sales productivity.)
  3. Hiring me rather than a relatively untested candidate will save you the possible costs, delays, and hassle of another recruiting effort. 
  4. I've got street cred - I know what I'm talking about. I've been a player in the industry and know your target market's current technology solutions and their drawbacks. My ability to be agile and quick to grasp new technology solutions and where the market is trending gives me an advantage over less experienced sales reps.
  5. I know my way around all kinds of people. This can come only from experience in the trenches. I've got the kind of good instincts that it takes to build relationships and adjust my approach to people in different roles and levels in the company. 
  6. I'm a sales pro. I know what works in sales. I know how to get to the close and then deliver the sale.

In short, my ROI is a sure thing you can take to the bank. Are there any other concerns you might have?"

If you list these six points  in a confident, upbeat way, you can avoid sounding defensive. And listing them will at the very least flush out hidden age biases the interviewer may not even be aware s/he has and counter them.

We are a youth culture, and tech especially is seen as a young person's game. But, like other not-so-wise common wisdom, this bias can be overcome by your confidence and a demonstrated ability to help the company reach its strategic objectives and/or solve its pain.


Topics: job search, executive resume, IT executive resume, job interview, age discrimination

Is Your Resume at Risk? ATS Pitfalls to Avoid

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Dec 1, 2011 11:28:00 AM

Image Keywords

I spent an enlightening hour attending a webinar offered by Jonathan Ciampi, a former executive at an ATS (applicant tracking system) company. He has started a new business, Preptel, to help job seekers increase their odds of success. He talked about how ATS works and implications for your resume.

Putting his input together with other information about ATS, I've compiled the most important things to avoid in order to optimize your resume for search.

1. Format: Do not submit a highly formatted resume electronically. Stick to a simple format or save your highly formatted resume as a .txt (ASCII) file. Most ATS will scramble tables, graphs, and graphics, defeating your purpose in presenting them. Take your beautiful, creative resume to the interview.

2. Keywords: Don't assume that it is enough to include the common keywords for your position, level, function, and industry or the ones in a job posting! Many ATS will identify as keywords the uncommon, unique-to-the-job-posting words or phrases in the job ad. This practice cuts down dramatically on the number of resumes retrieved for consideration by the hiring authority or recruiter.

3. Headings: Most ATS will only recognize the common headings: Work Experience or Professional Experience, Education, and sometimes Professional Summary. Eliminate creative headings such as "Career Highlights." 

4. Sections: Extra sections - that is, those that don't have the common titles listed in #3 - won't be stored. So if you have information essential to your application, such as certifications, community activities, publications etc., I suggest you include it under the Education heading.

5. Contact Information: Leave it out of the Header and Footer sections. Put it at the top of page one. And do include both home and mobile phone numbers if you have them.

6. Process: Don't paste your resume into a field online. Rather, upload it if given the opportunity. Chances are better that the formatting will remain intact with this method.

7. Acronyms & Abbreviations: Don't rely on acronyms alone. Include the full language. For instance, don't use USPs for "unique selling points." ATS should process common acronyms correctly, such as BA, MA, and MBA, but may not process other tech and business acronyms right.

8. Keyword Use: Newer ATS recognizes keywords in proper context within a sentence or word group. Don't rely solely on a keyword list. Let the job ad be your guide about which keywords to use in context. You may still want to provide a keyword list at the end of your resume under "Education" to cover the bases.

9. Source: Don't neglect to indicate where you heard about the job. ATS tracks sources and ranks some more highly than others, such as employee referrals over the big job boards.

10. Job Description: Don't forget that the ATS software will be searching for the descriptions of your jobs. Many people have been leaving that out in favor of just achievements. Time to put them back in!

If you are like a lot of people, you probably wish that the resume you worked so hard on to make visually attractive and easy to grasp would be seen on the first pass. Unfortunately, it isn't even seen on the second pass. The resume you submit to most large companies and many small-to-mid-sized ones gets mined for data that then populates fields on a form that the HR employee or recruiter sees (not your resume). Your resume may in fact only be seen at the time of an interview.

One further thought on length. If you need to go longer to adequately communicate what you've done and integrate keywords into context, go ahead. The software doesn't care!



Topics: executive resumes, ATS, applicant tracking software, resume, resumes, IT executive resume, keywords

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Tyrone Norwood