Carlton Lassiter began looking for a new job five months ago, after being passed over for a director of strategic planning position with his current employer. Lassiter, who asked CIO.com to use a pseudonym to keep his job search a secret from his employer, currently serves as an enterprise architect with an energy company. His long-term career goal is to become a CIO. He saw the director of strategic planning post as a stepping stone to a CIO position.
Lassiter says his co-workers were mystified when he was overlooked for the strategy job. They asked him why he didn’t get it. He thought his résumé was largely to blame, along with his age: He’s on the cusp of turning 32.
Lassiter believes he has what it takes to move from enterprise architect to a director- or executive-level position in IT. For one, in his current role, he works hand-in-hand with the CIO on matters of IT strategy. In addition, he built a multi-million dollar IT consulting company with global operations. The experience afforded him, among other things, the opportunity to build relationships with C-level executives across a variety of industries.
Lassiter says he’s applied for four positions since starting his job search: one as a chief innovation officer, another as a chief information officer, and two as IT directors where he would have been the top IT leader inside those organizations.
He scored an interview for the chief innovation officer position, but because it required relocating, it didn’t work out. He received the following canned response when he sent his résumé for the other three positions: “Thank you for your submission. We’re pursuing other candidates who we feel are more qualified.”
If those employers had taken the time to speak with Lassiter, they might have realized that he was indeed qualified. Unfortunately, Lassiter suspects his résumé just didn’t succeed in giving hiring managers that impression. Lassiter needed a résumé makeover.
Enter Professional Résumé Writer Nimish Thakkar
Nimish Thakkar, a certified career management coach and résumé writer, agreed to overhaul Lassiter’s résumé. Thakkar has written 10,000 résumés during the 12 years he has worked as a professional résumé writer, and his résumé writing service, ResumeCorner.com, attracts a substantial number of IT professionals. He says 40 percent of his clients work in IT. In addition to his résumé writing experience, Thakkar holds Master of Science and MBA degrees from St. John’s University in New York City.
The Problems with Lassiter’s Résumé
Thakkar concurs that Lassiter’s résumé was a problem: It simply didn’t do justice to his professional experience and leadership abilities. Thakkar identified two major issues with Lassiter’s résumé:
1. It didn’t give readers the big picture. Thakkar says he couldn’t figure out what Lassiter was all about professionally within 30 seconds of scanning his résumé. It was crowded with information, and it didn’t make clear Lassiter’s career goal. Nor did it express the type of job Lassiter is seeking and best suited for.
2. It didn’t brand Lassiter as an executive. Nothing on Lassiter’s résumé suggested that he was a senior level candidate. In fact, the format and language Lassiter used suggested the opposite. “His wording was very generic and didn’t give the impression that he was targeting high-level jobs,” says Thakkar.
See Lassiter’s résumé before the makeover
The Résumé Makeover
Lassiter says his biggest challenge writing his résumé was determining, of all the work he’s done thus far in his career, which projects and accomplishments were the most important to highlight. Thakkar helped Lassiter zero in on which details to include, while fashioning a résumé that did justice to Lassiter’s executive leadership ability. Thakkar made the following three major changes to Lassiter’s résumé.
1. He overhauled the format. Thakkar notes that Lassiter wrote his original résumé using a functional format. Thakkar says the functional format can work well for professionals who are changing careers or who have a questionable work history, but nothing like that applied to Lassiter. Moreover, it’s inappropriate for senior-level professionals, he says, because it pushed Lassiter’s employment history to the last page of his résumé. While the functional format brought his accomplishments to the fore, they lacked context, and thus, were less impressive.
The new format is more traditional and appropriate for an executive. It consists of a header, followed by a branding statement, a list of key competencies, a two-pronged marketing message, and a career summary, all of which are in turn followed by sections on work experience, education and technical competencies.
2. He beefed up the branding. After speaking with Lassiter over the phone, Thakkar realized Lassiter had a lot more to offer prospective employers than what his résumé suggested. Knowing that Lassiter wanted to use his résumé to move up, he worked to position Lassiter as an IT executive with the right mix of technology and strategic, leadership skills. He accomplished this using a number of techniques:
- He included a tagline below Lassiter’s name at the top of his résumé.
- He drew immediate attention to the fact that Lassiter holds an MBA. Thakkar includes the degree right next to Lassiter’s name at the top of his résumé and includes it in the heading at the top of every page.
- He created a one-line branding statement that captures the essence of Lassiter’s professional identity.
- He developed a what he calls a “two-pronged marketing message” that states what Lassiter is known for: spearheading multi-million dollar projects; leading IT organizations to achieve world-class standards.
- He wrote a summary that encapsulates the highlights of Lassiter’s career that testify to his accomplishments in strategic, IT leadership roles as well as his technical expertise.
- Instead of setting off Lassiter’s employment history with the generic heading “Professional Experience,” Thakkar uses something different—”World Class IT Leadership”—to distinguish Lassiter and add to his executive branding.
Finally, Thakkar selected and prioritized the responsibilities and achievements that are most relevant to an IT executive position under each of Lassiter’s employers. The accomplishments Thakkar chose demonstrate Lassiter’s ability to manage large IT budgets, work with senior executives across a variety of functions, develop and implement strategic plans, and drive results—in addition to highlighting his technical skills.
3. He improved the writing. Lassiter’s new résumé showcases language that is tight, professional, clear, active and direct.
See Lassiter’s new résumé
Where Lassiter’s original résumé was a liability, Thakkar is confident that the new résumé will be an asset in Lassiter’s job search. “First of all, it brands him as a technology leader,” says Thakkar. “Secondly, it showcases his accomplishments in a very streamlined fashion. Readers don’t need to go beyond the first page to understand what he’s all about. That’s going to help him tremendously.”
Meridith Levinson covers Careers and Security for CIO.com. Follow Meridith on Twitter @meridith . Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook . Email Meridith at firstname.lastname@example.org.