Making the leap from programmer, designer, or engineer to IT executive requires years of diligent ladder climbing, management experience, and strategic positioning to cast you as a leader in your field and workplace. There are countless IT middle managers out there climbing ladders and developing management savvy, however most of them lack in the area of selling themselves as an executive.
A basic area they tend to neglect is the resume. I have seen a number of directors and CIOs try to use manager-level resumes for executive positions to no avail. Here are five essentials steps to re-casting yourself as a technology power-hitter with boardroom potential:
Create a Strong, BALANCED Introduction
Tech-heavy career objectives are tired, generic, and fail to showcase the important balance you have between your technical abilities and leadership skills. Employers want to know you can go beyond managing projects or departments; they want to know you can really lead. Also, limit your fluffy personal branding statements, and instead focus on keeping the content concise, relevant, and distinctive to you.
Minimize Those Technical Skills
Those who occupy the corner offices rarely do the hands-on work. Listing your hardware, software, firmware, etc. knowledge up front gets in the way and casts you below your level. List it at or near the end of your resume to let hiring managers know you have the skills, but they're now secondary.
Show Results. Period
At this point you've probably heard, "Don't focus on what you did; focus on how well you did it." Well, it's true. What exemplifies a leader are quantifiable, tangible, and significant results. Don't just say you organized and executed a major company-wide upgrade. Tell them how it made the company smarter, faster, more efficient, more competitive, and more profitable.
Don't Underestimate Valuable Transferable Skills
Although companies need several directors and senior managers, most just need one technology executive. This makes it even more important to limit your focus on company-specific details and spotlight your transferrable skills (i.e. product development, offshore team building, QC, vendor management, costing and budgeting, etc.) Once they see these minimum general qualifications, they're less likely toss you aside thinking your focus is too far from their company's.
Avoid the One-Page (or Even Two-Page) Myth
Professionals with decades of solid, valuable experience have come to me in frustration after trying to whittle down their resumes to bare bones. The fact is they were deleting hugely valuable information! Companies will simply take more time to investigate candidates at your level than they will to look for mid-level programmers. Instead of worrying over page count, focus on presenting your best, most relevant information up front and utilize subsequent real estate for support data - earlier employment, education, certifications, patents, presentations or publications. This is all important in painting a cohesive picture of you in your new executive position.
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It's common for technology professionals to get stuck on the details of their resume's content; however presentation is just as important - especially for executive candidates. Use these tips and your resume will be boardroom-ready in no time.