Building an effective CIO résumé

If you’re a CIO or an aspiring C-suite IT executive looking to make a move, you’ll find that creating an effective technology leadership résumé is a different type of challenge than you’ve encountered in the past.

After all, the résumés for typical midcareer roles such senior solutions architect, deputy of MIS or even IT manager feature specific technologies as their centerpiece.

In contrast, your CIO résumé will need to emphasize your company-level contributions, rather than merely the technologies you’ve employed or the projects your teams have completed.

Here are three key components of a CIO résumé that paint a vivid picture of fitness at the IT executive level.

1. Strategic rather than tactical focus

This describes specific areas where you’ve added value to the organization and taken long-range business plans into account when developing the IT road map for the corporation. If your career has already included a seat at the executive table, you’ll want to provide details on the contributions you’ve made as a CIO, with special emphasis on the role of technical upgrades that support future growth.

If you have yet to hold the title of CIO, take a closer look at your strategic charter within roles such as IT director or vice president of IT. Here, you may have been asked to help determine the viability of upgrades at the enterprise level from an infrastructure standpoint, or assisted in planning application migrations from legacy systems.

If this is the case, add these examples to a CIO-level résumé as proof of your ability to strategize at the leadership level, with supporting details that show potential cost savings to the business and the nature of your executive relationships with major business unit stakeholders during the process.

The following CIO résumé example shows how to flesh out and reframe the context of an executive-level activity with long-term implications:

Before: Created risk management profile on aging infrastructures for presentation to executives.

After: Spearheaded creation of five-year strategic road maps instrumental in executive team planning for IT; clearly communicated risk surrounding replacement needs for end-of-life infrastructures.

2. Incorporation of technology as a driver for the business

As a measure of effectiveness, many CIOs can point to new initiatives that added value in the form of increased revenue, higher levels of efficiency or improved staff productivity. The key to showing this type of detail on a CIO résumé is to focus on the end result, while speaking to the technologies involved as a means to achieving it.

In these situations, the CIO (as well as the CTO) often partners with business leaders to identify potential improvements that can be achieved with technology changes. The relevance to the business need is key, and the actual application, vendor solution or platform used is only part of the story.

Consider this conversion of an ERP initiative’s description within a CIO résumé:

Before: Implemented SAP ERP system (the second version at the company) in order to promote 100% traceability from raw materials.

After: Facilitated new business by adding SAP ERP capabilities (including 100% raw-material-to-finished-part traceability) that impacted company ability to obtain key industry credentials.

3. Strong examples of cost-cutting moves

A CIO’s charter is often to bring in cutting-edge solutions, but at the lowest possible cost. This is especially true in situations where the CIO reports directly to the CFO.

Therefore, your CIO résumé should highlight moves that have provided a technology edge for your employer and strengthened the company’s market response — while negotiating a substantial savings through solutions such as virtualization or long-term, enterprise-level contracts.

In addition, IT initiatives often have an impact on the bottom line, either through automation or new capabilities that add the potential for more revenue. In these cases, it’s important to add the metrics associated with the improvement to your CIO résumé as a measure of effectiveness.

As an example, this CIO résumé was altered to define specific costs and expected benefits of a switch to virtual servers:

Before: Upgraded data centers, engineering labs and service labs to utilize virtual server technology.

After: Added virtualization solutions projected to secure 135% ROI over three years, with 88% better recovery performance plus decreased facilities and cooling costs; upgraded data centers with no additional staff or space — eliminating $1.2 million in potential costs.

In summary, a solid CIO résumé can generate results by telling a story that includes specific financial benefits of technology changes, a business-minded focus, and examples of strategic contributions that improve the company’s position.

Here’s where reframing your achievements and leveraging the business context can demonstrate the immediate advantage of bringing you into the company in the role of CIO.

Laura Smith-Proulx is an award-winning, certified executive résumé writer, LinkedIn profile writer and former recruiter. Visit her Web site,

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Related Tech News

Tech Jobs

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.

Tech Companies Hiring Right Now