by Sarah K. White

IT Resume Makeover: Presenting an executive image

Dec 01, 2016
CareersIT JobsIT Skills

Looking to land your first tech executive role? Here’s how to overhaul your resume to catch a recruiter's eye and demonstrate your qualifications.

If you’re going for a role that is technically a step up from your current position — for example, in executive leadership — you need to get strategic to make your resume stand out. That was the case for resume makeover candidate William Torres (whose name has been changed for this article). He wanted to demonstrate his suitability for senior executive leadership roles, but wasn’t sure what to include and what to leave out. When Stephen Van Vreede, IT and technical resume writer at ITtechExec and NoodlePlace, saw Torres’ resume he knew he wanted to rework a number of things to better reflect his qualifications as a technology leader.

“Here’s someone that has not been a CIO or CTO but wants to land a senior executive role in technology. In this case, the content and the presentation need to come together to produce an executive image, and it just wasn’t happening with the old resume,” Van Vreede says.

Torres knew his resume had “too much technical information” and a “lack of order.” He also struggled to stay concise and position his experience in a way that reflected his career goals. With his eye on executive leadership positions, he knew he needed to find a way to outline his leadership qualifications in a way that would capture and hold the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager.

[ Download original tech resume ]

Reformat and redesign

Your resume needs to be more than a boring list that outlines your work experience, education and past achievements. Just as Van Vreede did in this resume makeover, you can also feel free to explore different designs and layouts for your resume to find one that highlights all your most important information.

[ Related story: IT resume makeover: Turn your resume into a story ]

One aspect of Torres’ original resume that caught Van Vreede’s eye was the use of color — he liked the choice, but wanted to give it a more purposeful function on the resume. Van Vreede also decided to expand upon Torres’ right-hand sidebar, where he had included a breakdown of achievements for each position. Taking these ideas that Torres had already implemented, Van Vreede improved and expanded on them to create a more cohesive document with better flow.

Torres agreed that the updated executive summary and visually appealing design were not only easy to read, but also captured the key points he thought were important for recruiters and hiring managers. While references such as “team player” indicate some hirable personality traits of Torres, he was surprised that his resume didn’t reflect more of his personality characteristics. But the goal of any resume is to land you an interview, where you can then showcase how your personality will suit the company and the job.

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Getting to the point

Remaining objective and concise about your own work history can be daunting. That’s why going to a professional like Van Vreede is helpful. An objective eye on your resume will help you determine the content that is important to your resume and what you can leave out.

For Torres’ resume, Van Vreede knew he wanted to eliminate extraneous text and labels, ultimately eliminating the entire left side of the original resume. He also simplified Torres’ achievement breakdown, forgoing the more descriptive text in favor of simplified lists categorized by different skills and experience that would outline exactly why Torres is fit for a CIO or CTO position.

“It has been really hard for me to find a way to get the point across without leaving important or relevant information behind. Steve did it seamlessly and he was able to convince me it was the right way,” says Torres.

[ Related story: IT resume makeover: Don’t try to please everyone ]

To preserve some of the content Van Vreede eliminated, he created an “addendum” with a similar format to list out additional project details and technical skills. Just like a list of references, Torres can have that document ready for any interested recruiters or hiring managers.

[ Download final tech resume ]

Refocus for keywords

Oftentimes, recruiters and hiring managers are looking for certain keywords on a resume that are relevant to the position. According to Van Vreede, Torres had three main themes in his original resume – business development, technical consulting and project management. The final document eliminated these themes, replacing them with strong keywords for a CIO or CTO position such as “technology strategy,” and “organizational leadership.” He also knew recruiters would want to see a candidate who could speak to “the business impact of technology initiatives,” so he also focused on Torres’ experience with business technology.

Working with themes more suited for a CIO or CTO resume, Van Vreede refocused Torres’ professional brand to better present his qualifications for a senior executive role. Moving the skills and experience to a visually appealing section helped emphasize the most important points while helping to steer the reader through the resume. And after adjusting to the change, Torres was more than happy with the unique, visual display of his skills and experience in the final product.

“This approach allowed us to change the focus on Torres being a business development manager in the old resume to him as a technical executive with experience across multiple technology functions, as a Business Leader capable of shaping and executing a business vision for the technology organization, and as a program director who has lead strategic technology initiatives to transform the business,” says Van Vreede.