As companies start to adapt data-first strategies, the role of chief data officer is becoming increasingly important. A survey from the 2018 Global State of Enterprise Analytics Report from MicroStrategy found that 57 percent of the global companies already hired a CDO and 24 percent said they were considering creating a CDO position in the future.
Landing a CDO job requires a strong resume. But you don’t need to feel intimidated when writing your executive-level resume; you just need to do a little research. Here are tips and tricks from technology resume experts on how to write the ideal resume for chief data officer positions.
1. Focus on digital transformation
The data industry is relatively new so any CDO is going to be tasked with major digital transformation efforts to help get the company up to speed.
“When preparing a resume for CDO roles, each candidate must consider their audience, as different companies include a range of duties into each role. However, the ability to drive digital technology transformation is going to be the focus,” says Stephen Van Vreede, resume expert at IT Tech Exec.
You’ll also want to highlight relevant skills such as business strategy, strategic planning, business operations, data governance, goal alignment, data security, data sourcing, technology roadmap development, change management, communication and team leadership.
Look to job listings to help you find a main focus or theme for your resume. Some positions will focus more heavily on security or emerging technology, while others will focus more on data and analytics.
2. Creating a flexible resume
Your resume should be a flexible document that you can quickly tweak to fit the job you’re applying for. This might mean highlighting specific skills or adding in relevant expertise that you originally left off your resume. Van Vreede suggests creating a “modular” resume that can be updated to be a custom fit for any job listing.
Your summary should always describe the “value add you bring to the organization as a CDO,” he says. But make sure the summary also includes keywords that align with the job listing. Add in keywords that you haven’t included or if you phrased a skill or accomplishment in a different way, go back into your resume and re-word it. Your experience section can also have a bulleted list of your achievements which can be re-ordered to “prioritize the things that the company seems to care about the most based on the posting.”
“If the posting emphasizes that the candidate must have experience in digital product development, then the first achievements listed for each role should focus on digital product development and delivery. However, if another posting lists cloud experience as the key requirement, then the bullet points should prioritize cloud transformation initiatives,” he says.
Use job listings you’re interested in as a guide for creating a base resume that you can later customize based off job listings. Cheryl Lynch Simpson, career, job search and LinkedIn coach and master resume writer, suggests going through a dozen or more job listings to create your base resume and then tailor it from there as needed.
“Although resume tailoring shouldn’t take a lot of time, it should be thorough and include potential changes to the resume’s title, summary, keywords, position descriptions, achievements, and credentials. It’s easiest if the job seeker highlights key requirements, phrases, and responsibilities in the job postings and then looks specific locations in the document where many of them could be incorporated,” says Simpson.
3. Keep ATS systems in mind
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) automate part of the hiring process by filtering out resumes that hit specific keywords relevant to the job listing. This helps recruiters and hiring managers sort through large stacks of resumes to quickly find qualified candidates. However, if your resume isn’t set up to be ATS-friendly, you might run the risk of it going unnoticed by the automated system.
An ATS system compares your resume to the content in the listing’s requirements, and it will count the number of times keywords appear, according to Simpson. Resumes are then ranked using this “scoring process” so recruiters know which candidates to look at first.
If your resume doesn’t get picked up by an ATS system, it doesn’t mean your unqualified or that you have a bad resume.
“Applicant tracking systems are very common and can trip up any candidate. But I’ve found that these systems make C-level candidates in technology very frustrated, because it often filters out really good people,” says Van Vreede.
One of the biggest concerns for job seekers is that your resume is converted to a plain text file once it’s uploaded to an ATS system, which can remove any special formatting. If your resume uses a lot of special formatting, such as headers or images, you will want to create a version with simpler formatting. You can save your formatted resume to send directly to your C-level contacts and use the simplified version for applying to jobs online.
“It’s also critical to understand that in many cases recruiters will include an amount or range of required experience in the job posting. This amount or range is then used as a filter to eliminate applicants who do not match the requirements,” says Simpson.
If a job listing asks for 15 to 18 years’ experience, the ATS system will scan your resume and try to determine how many years of experience you have. That means people with less or more experience will automatically get kicked out by the system, so it’s important to “experience-proof” your resume so that it matches the job you’re looking for, says Simpson.
4. The biggest mistake to avoid
One resume mistake Van Vreede and Simpson both see CDO candidates repeatedly make is to write a resume that is too “tactical.”
It’s tempting in technical jobs to just write out a “laundry list” of your skills, achievements and experience based off your current level. Instead, you should try to demonstrate relevant skills and accomplishments that will qualify you for a C-level position. For example, if you’re currently at the VP or senior director level, focus on writing a resume for an executive-level position and including the skills and expertise that translate to the CDO role.
“In technical fields, even at the C-suite it is tempting to make the resume tactical rather than emphasizing the design and execution of data strategy. It isn’t enough for a resume to stress strategic planning skills; it must also demonstrate experience in designing data strategies and leading their execution through the inclusion of measurable achievements that show, not tell, his or her proficiency,” says Simpson.