by Sarah K. White

IT Resume Makeover: Cut down details to stand out as a leader

Jan 29, 2021
CareersCIOIT Leadership

Experience and accomplishments are often buried deep in the details of an IT resume. Learn how to trim the fat and surface what recruiters need to know up top in this resume makeover.

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Credit: PeopleImages / Getty Images

As an IT leader with a storied career, it can feel impossible to write a concise resume that highlights your experience, skills and knowledge in full. But the longer your resume, the greater the risk that a hiring manager or recruiter will glaze over half the document — or worse, move on to the next resume in the pile before they even finish it.

For Sherry Vogt, a CIO in the education industry, knowing what to highlight on her resume and how to keep more than two decades of experience and accomplishments confined to one or two pages was challenging. To help her in her hunt for a new CIO position in education, we paired Vogt with Andrew Ysasi, president of Adamovio and vice president of Vital Records Control, for a resume makeover.

Ysasi met with Vogt to discuss her aspirations and experiences as an IT leader, including the positions she was interested in and the geographical locations she wanted to confine her search to.

“We also discussed her accomplishments in detail, and explored preparing her resume for higher education, industry and board member roles,” Ysasi says. “Vogt has a lot of CIO experience at universities throughout the US. Her accomplishments are noteworthy — she is an ideal CIO candidate for any organization.”

Despite her qualifications, however, Ysasi felt that Vogt’s five-page resume didn’t capture all the high points of her career, and Vogt agreed. To better present her as a candidate, Ysasi helped Vogt develop her career story, tailoring and formatting her resume to enforce that story and deliver the most impact.

Don’t leave your accomplishments buried in detail

All too often IT leaders bury essential elements for their executive summary and skills section elsewhere on their resume. It’s common for people to align accomplishments or skills with specific jobs, but that can leave valuable information scattered at the end of your resume, especially if it’s associated with a job farther back in your career. Instead, to ensure your resume makes a strong impression right from the start, include your most impressive accomplishments on the first page.  

“She did a great job of capturing her accomplishments throughout her career. Unfortunately, many of these accomplishments were buried in the details,” Ysasi says. 

Throughout Vogt’s career, either she or the universities she’s worked for won awards as a direct result of her work. Rather than bury those accomplishments in Vogt’s employment experience section, Ysasi made sure they were evident early on in the resume. He included her prominent CIO roles, awards and accomplishments in a career summary section up top. For example, Ysasi included Vogt’s participation in community service, her work as a speaker and panelist at conferences and times she’s been acknowledged by major publications for her work in the industry.

He also included her “top skills” at the start of the resume — keeping it to three columns so as to leave more space below for leadership and work experience. Skills Ysasi chose to include are those that are most relevant to the jobs Vogt is currently looking for in higher education. Her top skills include phrases such as “higher education technology,” “project management” and “data and security privacy” among other relevant terms.

Get specific in your summary

More than just a first impression, your summary gives recruiters or hiring managers a feel for how you will fit into their organizations. This is where you want to hook the reader by sharing your biggest and best career moments, skills and awards to keep them interested in reading the rest of your resume.

In her original resume, Vogt made the right move by putting her summary at the top, but she made the common mistake of keeping it too generic and vague. She included terms such as “IT strategist, trusted advisor or optimist,” which do give an idea of the kind of employee she is, but could also easily describe any other candidate. Ysasi dug into Vogt’s career history to find more specific accolades, skills and accomplishments that would set her apart and demonstrate her vast qualifications.

“We aligned her summary with higher education CIO roles, which is where she has most of her experience,” Ysasi says. “We rewrote her summary to incorporate some of her accomplishments and where she was looking to find a position. We then incorporated some of her awards and volunteer work into her summary giving her the credit that is due, updated her skills, and prioritized her accomplishments for each role.”

A concise resume for multiple industries

Keeping a resume concise is undoubtedly one of the hardest parts about writing your resume. The longer you’ve been in your career, the more creative you will need to get when it comes to fitting all your experience on the page.

Vogt’s original resume already had a strong layout and design, but it was lengthy at five pages. Vogt knew she wanted to focus on paring down the length by cutting out the less important details from her career. She appreciated that Ysasi brought an outside perspective to her resume and helped her identify the most pertinent accomplishments that will catch the eye of a hiring manager.

“Academic CVs can be very different from typical resumes in format and content. It was helpful to have an objective view and professional advice, especially since I am pursuing opportunities in other industries as well,” Vogt says.

Ysasi managed to get the document down to two pages. The final result is a professional-looking resume with an eye-catching design that will set Vogt apart from the competition. It demonstrates why she’s qualified to be a CIO, how she’s been successful in the role in the past and what she can bring to an organization. Ysasi also included a headshot and a QR-code, bringing a personal touch and making it easy as possible for recruiters to reach out or do more research.

“The resume is more reflective of her experience as a CIO. There is no mystery she is a veteran CIO. The designer elements give her resume a modern look incorporating her photo and QR-code to her LinkedIn profile,” says Ysasi.

Vogt found the process “collaborative and constructive,” noting that Ysasi’s process was straightforward and didn’t leave her with any surprises — she was happy with the results.

“She was impressed with the process, but it was her skills and accomplishments that made it easy to make her new resume shine. I have no doubt she will land a position worthy of her skills, accomplishments and expertise,” Ysasi says.