Career Experts Offer Advice on How to Move Into a CIO Job

A senior IT exec gets advice on how to make the jump to CIO.

"I am a senior IT executive looking for a CIO job. Do you have any advice on how to get started? Should I use executive search firms? Do you know the most likely way that CIOs are hired externally? What is one thing I can do to push my CV to the front of the pile?"

Our expert panel weighs in:

Jean Fuller, Fuller Coaching, Woodside, Calif.
Your CIO title might be two jobs away. Start this way: Imagine your dream job -- that's five to seven years ahead. Then find five to 10 companies -- based on geography, industry reputation, etc. -- where you think you would be a good fit. Now choose 20 companies where you could spend two years getting ready to move to one of the companies on your shorter list. Power up that PDA and review a list of contacts and start booking lunches. If you don't have any contacts, then join a local CIO roundtable and start going to conferences in cities where those 20 companies are located. Finally, define your unique personal brand and have a résumé expert tell you whether your CV message is clear.

Renee Arrington, Pearson Partners International Inc., Dallas
Make a list of everyone you know. That means neighbors, relatives, running buddies and coworkers. Include their employers and titles. Next, list the companies where you would like to work. Identify the top executives using the company Web sites, SEC filings, Hoovers.com, etc. Now see if anyone on your first list matches any of the companies or even industries. Start reaching out. How CIOs are hired externally varies greatly. Groups like SIM (Society for Information Management) and TENG (Technology Executives Networking Group) are very valuable to connect you to the IT community. Find a local chapter and join!

Kim Batson, Career Management Coaching.com, Sammamish, Wash.
Getting started in a CIO job search begins with preparation. It is critical that you first evaluate what sets you apart as a CIO and the unique value you bring to the marketplace. This is called creating a personal brand. You can then prepare a powerful résumé to highlight your brand and quantified accomplishments. Once you are strongly positioned, launch your job search using a multipronged approach. Since 80% to 90% of all CIO positions are never advertised, you will be more effective if you use proactive search methods such as direct company executive contact and networking, while augmenting your search with executive recruiters and executive-specific job search sites, such as Netshare.com.

If you have a career question or experience to share, write to us at editor@ciodecisions.com.

This was first published in September 2007

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