Chief Information Officer (CIO) Resume Guide

Introduction

You’re a Chief Information Officer, so you’re focused on the technology that will give your company an edge in the market as well as within its operations. But you also have an eye on cybersecurity. You may be an expert in an industry vertical or have moved across industries as your career grew. Either way, you have impressive experience.

As you’ve advanced in your career, you’ve seen the CIO role change. You’re far more than simply a tech expert now; you are a digital transformation leader who understands the business and knows how to inspire IT units to develop hybrid cloud environments and envision elevated operating models.

Now, you’re considering your next career move. Technology-savvy executives who can think strategically about business growth are in demand. But how do you present your case and make your prospective CEO take notice? It’s one thing to enumerate your technology skills as you begin reaching out to recruiters, but it’s an entirely different thing to explain your critical-thinking skills and what you can bring to a company as a CIO.

Also be aware that many companies are rebranding their Chief Information Officer with new titles such as Chief Technology Officer and President of IT.

Common Chief Information Officer Titles

  • President of IT
  • Director of IT
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Chief Digital Information Officer

This guide takes you step by step through each section of a professional CIO resume and teaches you how to develop impactful content. You’ll also find a resume example that puts it all together.

Once you read through this guide, you may reconsider whether creating your own resume is worth your time. You may also reflect on whether you have the training to craft a truly compelling resume yourself. After all, doing so requires a combination of writing, editing, formatting, and optimization expertise—a combination not commonly found in a single person.

If you decide you would rather take advantage of an executive resume writing service and use your valuable time to expand your network and uncover new job opportunities, you can request a 1-on-1 consultation with one of our experienced team members.

The Big Picture

As the Chief Information Officer’s role has evolved, CIOs have become more integral to the success of businesses. You need the vision to know what technology will move your company forward and to anticipate future growth and needs, but you also need to know how to empower your IT units to make that vision a reality. That takes much more than excellent technology credentials.

The good news is that you have much more than just information technology experience under your belt. You are a leader, and you ask yourself the tough questions necessary to keep or even increase your company’s advantage. Stay current with industry trends and emerging technologies to ensure that you are asking the right questions that will keep you and your business ahead of the competition.

Now you have to turn your analytical questioning inward to look at your career and decide how you can best present your talents and knowledge. Your resume is the most essential tool for presenting those talents and thereby convincing a potential employer that you’re a worthy candidate.

To land that interview, you need to:

  • Transform your employment history into a career success story.
  • Explain your management style, highlight your achievements, and sell yourself to a new C-suite.
  • Present that information within two pages.
  • Make it easy to read by leaving plenty of white space and creating an organized layout.
  • Be a perfectionist with grammar, spelling, and formatting.

Let go of the notion that your resume is simply a listing of your previous jobs.

As you think strategically about how you arrived at the C-suite and what it will take to land your next role, consider efficiency and delegation. Handing off the details of creating your resume once you have done the high-level thinking about your career may be the best route for you.

Now that you get the basic idea, let’s break it down.

Layout and Design 

Just as great IT systems begin with organized architecture, so too does your resume. Designing the framework gives you the freedom to be creative, but resumes should maintain a set of prescribed standards as well. In fact, it’s best to stick with the tried and true. Why? First of all, the tried and true works. Second, recruiters and hiring managers want to be able to scan for key information quickly, often using automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) to search for keywords. If your resume is difficult to scan, you’ve just set up a roadblock and decreased your chances of getting to the next step. Your goal is not to show off your creativity but to impress with your experience and achievements.

This shouldn’t be difficult for you. You are a logical thinker. You know how to map a system, so you can think of mapping your resume in a similar manner. Envision a format that naturally leads the eye from one section to the next, and you will be on your way.

Here are the main ideas to get you started:

  • Create your resume in a logical order.
  • Leave one-inch margins all around and vary line lengths to avoid a cramped look.
  • Use stand-out headings that recruiters can easily find.
  • Go easy on the bold text and make sure your font is legible.

Good Choices

Avoid These

Remember that your resume is a visual representation of your skills and its effectiveness hinges in part on its formatting. If you present potential employers with a disorganized, unsightly resume, they’ll be less inclined to read about your actual achievements. When you’re choosing a design, be sure to select one that effectively highlights those achievements.

Let your design echo your professional persona by developing an efficient, precise, and organized layout. Keep it simple, leaving out graphics and excessive use of color. This will allow your achievements to stand on their own without overly flashy design.

Now that we’ve gotten the graphic elements out of the way, let’s talk about the components of your resume.

Contact Information

There’s no trick here: Your contact information has to be plainly stated, easy to find and read, and laid out simply. Period. Include this information in the header:

  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Your email (a professional-sounding but personal email. Don’t use your current work email.)
  • Your LinkedIn URL.

You may choose to include your city and state if you feel they are relevant, but do not list your street address.

Your Title and Summary

Your title is exactly that, the title of the job for which you are applying: Chief Information Officer. This is one of the few areas of your resume that you may have to tweak if the company you are targeting calls its CIO by a different name. Some CIOs also hold dual titles. Just make sure that your title matches that of the job listing.

Following your title, your executive summary is included at the top of the first page. Your summary has to convey, in just a few sentences, your Career Success Proposition™. This includes your top accomplishments and how they prepared you for your next challenge. Think of this as a super-summary because while you do have to sum up your career, you have to do so in a way that shows recruiters and potential employers how you will elevate your next IT division.

Does that sound like a lot to accomplish in 3–5 sentences? Once you break it down, it won’t be difficult at all. Your first job is understanding what CEOs are looking for from their Chief Information Officers. At your level, the other members of the C-suite assume you have the technical know-how to get the job done. That’s merely your foundation. Your soft skills make a big difference.

You need to demonstrate your ability to communicate, build bridges among business units, ensure that IT teams understand how their work connects to company culture, and create an environment where teams feel the autonomy to get the job done. Talent development and retention also rank high as desired skills.

Don’t neglect the fact that you must be able to work with your colleagues in the C-suite, explaining how your technological vision will support the overall culture and strategic plan for company growth.

The best way to present these abilities is to describe the methods and style you used to achieve your greatest IT successes. As with all areas of your resume, details and data add weight to your statements.

Core Competencies / Skills and Accomplishments

Can you pare your career down to a list of 6–12 core competencies? Absolutely. We have already talked a bit about the soft skills CEOs want in their CIOs. Those skills encompass all the interpersonal, organizational, and communication abilities that make you a great leader.

This is the perfect place to add the keywords and phrases that will get you past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. While ATS algorithms are sophisticated and do more than rank your resume based on the number of relevant keywords you use, you definitely need to include the skills your potential employer considers to be of high value.

Analyze the job listing and make sure you use exact phrases. If the job listing says “artificial intelligence,” don’t limit your language to just AI. Spell it out. In fact, do both to increase your chances.

Take stock of your skills. Make an all-inclusive list. Then decide which skills best show off your strengths and style. Part of the job of your resume is to let recruiters know who you are. At the C-suite level, companies are looking for a great fit, as well as a talented executive. Be honest with yourself, and you will have a better chance of finding the right position.

Once you have honed your list of skills, categorize them. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my list weighted too heavily toward soft or hard skills?
  • Have I chosen my highest-level skills? (You don’t need to state the obvious, instead focus on abilities that help distinguish your candidacy.)
  • Does this list give an accurate picture of who I am as a CIO?
  • Will my professional experience section offer details of the skills I have listed here?

If you are having a tough time with this section, you may consider working backward from your professional experience section since it will highlight the skills you have developed throughout your career.

Let’s take a look at that now.

Phrases Often Found in CIO Job Descriptions

  • Process Improvement
  • Employee Development
  • Strategic Direction
  • Project Management
  • Cross-functional

Employment History / Professional Experience

You have a long, distinguished career that you now must highlight with bullet points. Make each one count.

In this section, you want to detail the broader picture you gave in your summary and core competency sections. Remember that the job of your resume is to sell yourself as a top candidate, which means you must do more than list your previous job responsibilities.

Think of your work experiences as a series of problems you solved with your creative, innovative technology solutions. How did your solutions add value to your past companies? Where were you able to increase efficiency or allow teams to access and analyze data more easily? These are the questions you should be answering in this section.

When you have a rough idea of what accomplishments you want to detail here, match them against your core competencies (if you have decided to complete that first) to make sure that they offer evidence for the skills you have listed. Then, choose verbs that effectively capture the skills those accomplishments required. Don’t be shy about using a thesaurus if you get stuck.

Use these space-saving tips to keep your section at a manageable length.

  1. Do not list jobs you held more than 10 to 15 years ago unless it illustrates achievements you cannot show any other way.
  2. Avoid repeating responsibilities in different job descriptions; if you did it in one job, you have already demonstrated that you can do it.

Education and Awards

Traditionally, CIOs have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, software engineering, data science, or a related subject. They may also have a master’s degree in information technology or business administration. Businesses now are more open-minded about the degrees you have, but no matter what they are, list them here.

Once again, this section follows a standard format. List your college, the degree you earned, and any relevant technical certifications. If you have many certifications and awards, consider creating a separate section.

Putting It All Together

Now that you’ve learned about all the sections of your resume, it’s time to see the big picture. Take a look at our Chief Information Officer sample and decide how your career best fits into the format recruiters will expect.

Take into consideration a few more tips:

  • Even editors don’t edit their own work, so neither should you. Proofread. Then have a trusted colleague or friend do the same. Make sure every detail is perfect. You don’t want a simple typo to derail a job opportunity.
  • Plan your sections so that they don’t break between pages if you have a two-page resume, which is likely with your level of experience.

Finally, look at your resume from a strategic standpoint. Does it present the picture you want the CEO to see? Would you hire someone with your resume?

Next Steps

You made it to the end of this guide, but how much time did you spend? How much more time do you think it will take you to complete an executive-level resume that leads you into your next C-suite? You are talented at imagining the big picture and letting your expert team run with it. The job search is a perfect opportunity to find a team of experts who can provide a compelling narrative for your career thus far and apply that narrative to your resume.

We invite you to request a free 1-on-1 with one of our expert resume writers and let us help you get that interview.

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