Top 5 Mistakes on the CIO's Resume - Page 2

Jul 5, 2011

CIO Update Staff

No. 3: Concrete accomplishments - Some executive resumes read like job descriptions: "My responsibilities for this job were a, b, c," etc. Readers want to know both your job responsibilities and that you did them well. Getting accomplishments into the resume (the more concrete the better) provides punch to the resume and gives people a sense what you get done.

Similarly for executives, general pronouncements within an executive summary about "good communication skills" aren't as powerful as specific areas of expertise and accomplishments in differentiating you as an executive. Everybody can claim strong communications skills (even if others would disagree).

The same thing holds for accomplishments. Readers can infer strong leadership from examples of results but they can't infer great results just from statements about strong leadership. That isn’t to say leadership style isn’t important, but employers look to make evaluations on that in the interviewing process and not the resume.

No. 4: Unclear functional niche - Having an eclectic career isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is to the detriment of a candidate if someone can't clearly understand what you do either because your titles are ambiguous or because you've done many different things.

Recruiters and employers look to categorize people. Conveying that you fit in multiple categories may work. Not enabling someone to understand what category you fit at all tends to get a resume ignored.

For example, supposed your core experience is as a CIO but your most recent role was a short stint in a senior operations role. You don’t have to necessarily choose between the two, but you do have to find ways to directly convey information about both roles rather than leaving recruiters guessing about it.

No. 5: Visually difficult to read - People tend to form impressions on a resume in less than a 10 second read. If they can discern the major messages in that time and like what they see, only then are they likely to read the resume more in depth. If not, they usually move on.

Resumes that are disorganized, too long, or too dense often get overlooked. An ideal resume should be well organized, deliver a coherent message and be aesthetically pleasing.

All in all resume are marketing documents. As you write them you need to try to think as much like a chief marketing officer as you do a CIO: What about your experience and skills are going to generate the most interest in the market you are targeting? Accordingly, it’s usually worth “test marketing” a resume with a close friend or colleague, ideally someone who knows your function and market, if not your actual work.

An executive resume is a little like an insurance policy in that most people don’t think about it until they need one, but when you need one you want an extremely good one.

Howard Seidel, Ed.D., J.D., is a partner at Essex Partners, a consultancy that specializes in senior executive and C-suite career transition. Seidel has over 15 years experience as a career and executive coach, guiding hundreds of senior executives in all aspects of career development and change.

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