Writing a CIO resume for 2011

What should the CIO resume look like in 2011? The ideal one includes global experience and showcases your ability to make money for the business.

What should a CIO resume look like in 2011? For starters, it should be two pages long, with accomplishments ordered chronologically and in context. Employers want to see the story of your career, from beginning to end. Provide the scope, scale and geographic details of the projects you choose to highlight. And please, no videos or other multimedia testimonials. Executive search remains a paper-intensive process, headhunters say.

A CIO resume functions in 2011 much the way it did in 2010 or even a decade ago. But more than any other position in the executive suite, the CIO role keeps evolving -- and so does what companies are looking for in a CIO.

To kick off the New Year, SearchCIO.com asked a group of headhunters and consultants about which attributes are in demand and what makes a candidate stand out. First, the disclaimer: The skills in demand differ dramatically depending on the industry, the size of the company and how the business uses IT. That said, here are the four qualities that differentiate one candidate -- and one CIO resume -- from another.

Transformational leadership. "I hear it all the time, for every role that I am recruiting: leadership, leadership, leadership," said Martha Heller, president of Heller Search Associates, a retained executive search firm in Westborough, Mass.

For example, have you insourced an IT team that previously had been outsourced? Created a centralized IT culture in a previously decentralized organization? Changed your IT organizational structure to a business relationship management structure, an approach currently in vogue for bridging the gap between IT and business? Get it on the resume and get it up high, Heller said, with enough context (where, when, your title at the time) that the prospective employer can gauge its impact.

"It's important to get down to scope of responsibility: people, budget, major accomplishments," said Jack Santos, research vice president of Gartner Inc. and a former CIO. "There are so many CIOs. It really has become a broad term."

I hear it all the time, for every role that I am recruiting: leadership, leadership, leadership.

Martha Heller, president, Heller Search Associates

Chris Patrick, global CIO practice leader in the Dallas office of executive recruiter Egon Zehnder International AG, advises clients that it's not simply about what they did, but about how they did it. "Companies balance the quantitative with the qualitative, and sometimes the qualitative can be more important. How much carnage did you leave behind, or did you actually build a strong collaborative environment where people felt they were participating?" he said. Being able to build a team, to work across a matrix organization and to drive change when one doesn't necessarily "own or control all the levers" -- those are critical attributes for a CIO, he added.

The "I did more with less" line is still compelling, but the 2011 CIO resume must point to a higher outcome than saving money, said Bruce Barnes, president of Bold Vision LLC, a consulting firm based in Dublin, Ohio. "It is less about cost-cutting nowadays and more about 'How did the business change or gain a material advantage, as a direct result of your tenure?'" he wrote in an email. Prospective CIOs must have a "strong story," he added, around such questions as these: How is the business smarter? How are mission-critical business processes now more effective? How is the business more efficient? How did you attract and retain top talent?

"The underlying themes for the budding CIO are now innovation and creativity," Barnes said. Fortune 500 searches are looking for IT to provide a competitive edge. "Cost-effectiveness and assuring high reliability in a 'no-more-added budget' environment are simply table stakes, that is, not brag-able. You need a bigger story."

Global experience. "International experience is only growing in importance, as our clients are operating in global marketplaces. Everybody is talking about growth markets outside of the United states and Western Europe," Egon Zehnder's Patrick said.

The CIO resume should indicate how a candidate helped his business organization adapt and excel in the new global marketplace, Barnes said. And increasingly, Heller said, global experience also means virtual team leadership: "Companies want to see that you have led teams in all sorts of places," she said.

Interactions with external customers. Companies that deliver products -- from refrigerators to energy -- are finding that to retain customers, they also must deliver information about their products. "I just recruited a CIO for a B2B [business-to-business] energy company that wants information at its fingertips to give big customers, the Targets and McDonalds of the world," Heller said. The B2B company wanted business intelligence data about what those customers were paying for energy versus the market price, consumption last week versus a year ago, and price projections for the next three months. "Well, guess whose job that is," she said.

CIOs' interactions with external customers, however, increasingly go beyond supplying data. Now those interactions include talking with customers about their experience when they use IT to communicate with the company, and how they might like that to change, Heller said.

Anything done to drive revenue. A search Heller did for a construction company in 2010 called for a CIO who could help the business get into data center construction, a growth market. That leads to another skill that bears highlighting on a CIO resume: CIO as rainmaker.

According to Gartner, by 2015, CIOs' compensation at large companies will be determined in part by the amount of new revenue IT generates. CIOs increasingly are being asked to monetize their company's IT assets and intellectual property. "I don't see that expectation abating at all; if anything it is growing in importance," Egon Zehnder's Patrick said. "It goes to the point of the enormous investment companies make in technology and how much they rely on it."

The explosion of social media as a way to communicate with customers is just one example of how technology puts CIOs "at the crosshairs of a trend that touches multiple parts of the enterprise," Patrick said. "A couple of years ago, most companies looked at Facebook and Twitter as interesting sidelights of what their kids were doing. Today they are a vital communication medium."

If you have developed an in-house software system that resulted in new business for the company, put that in, Heller said, adding "and get the numbers for it."

A word about CIO resume style

You needn't worry over every comma. Just as a $300 suit versus a $3,000 suit won't likely be the deciding factor in getting hired as a CIO, neither will a resume, Heller said: "I see these people who worry over resumes, send them to three different resume services and keep revising."

"In the end, you can have a good-enough resume. All the CIO resume is," Heller said, "is a communication vehicle about your career and your accomplishments. If you have a jumpy resume where you haven't held down a job for more than 12 months at a time, the most beautifully crafted resume in the world will not help you."

The CIO resume, after all, is "just the door opener," Gartner's Santos said, and a personal network is usually required to get it pulled out of the stack on an HR employee's desk. "The real make-or-break opportunity comes in the chemistry and communications that takes place during the selection process."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer.

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