6 tips to help IT execs write remarkable resumes

CIO recruiter Martha Heller shares advice from the trenches on how IT executives can create effective resumes and avoid common mistakes.

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When it comes to resumes, I've seen all the types: the 7 pagers; the ones with thin margins; those without dates; and the resumes with type so small that my eyesight gets worse with every read. I look at hundreds of resumes each week, and I have strong opinions on this topic. 

How to write an effective CIO resume

1. Keep it short

Your resume should not be longer than three pages. I don't care how old you are, or how many jobs you've had. Your resume should demonstrate your ability to effectively present information, so don't overdo it.

2. Keep it to contextualized information

Too many candidates take up precious real estate at the top of their resumes by including long bulleted lists of terms, such as "project management" and "team leadership," or phrases, including "drove costs down by 10 percent!" If these statements appear at the top of your resume, before you mention a specific company, they're meaningless. This is like opening a newspaper and reading, "100 people were saved," but you don't from what, where or when.  

It's OK to include one solid branding statement at top of the resume — "Turnaround technology leader with expertise in manufacturing," for example — but place all other content in the context of the companies or organizations you actually worked for.

3. Describe your companies and use metrics

Whether your professional experiences have been with obscure companies or household names, include a line that tells the reader what the company does, how many people it employs, its revenues and its global reach. When you describe your own role and accomplishments at that company, include metrics to indicate budget and headcount.

4. Limit details on early roles

Does anybody care what you did in 1989? Not really. Hiring managers want to know who you worked for and your job titles, but that's about it. Save the detail for recent positions.

5. Stress business impact

It is no easy feat to engineer and deploy a mobile solution, and companies will hire you based on your technology skills. However, your resume will have a stronger impact if you include the fact that your company earned revenue as a result of your technical work.

6. Demonstrate talent acquisition

If you built a team from scratch, your resume should say so. Companies know that there is a war for technical talent today. If you're winning the war at your current job, be sure to mention it.

Resumes are a lot like interview suits; if your suit is presentable, no one notices it. If your suit is from the '80s, however, and it includes shoulder pads and pleated pants, that's all anyone will see. If your resume is seven pages long and includes every version of every technology you ever worked with, it won't make it out of the pile. If your resume is concise and professional, and it clearly represents your work experience, you're more likely to receive a bevy of calls from recruiters — and this one will be forever in your debt.

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