How to Make Your IT Director Resume Really Pop

If you’re pursuing an IT Director job, you already realize there’s a special challenge in your search.

Your resume must be written to show technical aptitude, plus demonstrate leadership problem-solving and team management skills (crucial for a later move to VP or CIO positions).

Climbing the corporate ladder to a higher-level IT leadership role requires that you first take stock of your career success stories and the strength of your business skills.

A compelling IT Director resume will contain at least these 3 elements:

1 – Metrics-Driven Results.

Most IT Directors are charged with managing projects at an enterprise scale, creating new infrastructures that set the business up for growth, or resolving support issues that threaten business operations.

Here’s where you’ll want to consider the scope and impact of these initiatives on the business for your IT Director resume. Answering these questions will help you pull in the metrics of most value to employers: Continue reading

The Lesson Behind Update Your Resume Month

Resume too outdated to impress employers? Get it updated before a recruiter calls

The inquiries all start out in a similar fashion: “I’ve been contacted by a recruiter for a dream job at (fill in the blank here: Google, Microsoft, Citibank, etc.), and I haven’t polished my resume in months or even years. Can you help?”

Do I want to help? Absolutely. But with the rush of great candidates in the running for equally great jobs, there’s a limit to how much I can do.

Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE to write about your technology or operations career… digging in to find out why you’ve earned promotions, how your work addressed challenges, and the ways you make revenue for employers—in other words, the salient points that make a recruiter sit up straight and reach for the phone.

However, there’s only so many hours in my day—which brings me to the reason why September is Update Your Resume Month. Continue reading

Facing layoff from Cisco? Plan your job hunt strategically

Cisco Systems layoffCisco Systems announced its largest layoff ever in July 2011, and employees are certainly feeling the aftershocks.

With 6,500 staff being cut (up to a 14% drop in its workforce), Cisco has announced that it plans to restructure in order to maintain a competitive position.

If you’re one of those affected by this or other layoffs, what should you do? It’s no secret that professionals have bemoaned the state of the job market now for several years.

Will YOU fare better? Yes (and you can read more here about your chances of finding a job quickly), but you’ll need to map out a plan that is as sound as any project you’ve ever tackled.

Consider that most people going through the shock of a layoff tend to react quickly, aggressively responding to posted jobs without taking time to regroup or prepare a plan. This is at least one main reason behind a job search that drags on for too long.

Then, there’s your competition: even though like Google, Apple, Yahoo, Citrix, and NetApp will be waiting at Cisco’s door to lap up well-qualified talent, there’s no shortage of eager job hunters ready to outdo your search tactics.

Therefore, it pays to take these key steps in your search:

1 – Decide if you’re able to relocate.

One of the biggest decisions you’ll face in the job search is also one that can have the most impact. If you have the ability to put down roots somewhere else, you’ll become a better candidate for other technology companies outside of Cisco—and for recruiters.

2 – Map out your desired targets.

You’ll need to not only identify the best companies for your talent, but also research their needs.

What is going on inside your target companies or industries? What business challenges do they face? And most importantly, how will YOUR skills make a difference there?

When you sit down to write a cover letter directed toward these firms, you’ll be glad you went through this exercise. Spend some time online and within professional journals to extract data on what these companies need, then write directly to their pain points.

3 – Polish your resume – but not in a vacuum.

Yes, your resume needs to be as ready as possible to compete against others, but don’t forget that a large part of what gets someone hired is the reaction they get from employers.

Therefore, it makes sense to circulate your resume among former Cisco colleagues and networking contacts for feedback—ensuring that you haven’t missed anything critical about your skills or projects.

This is true even if you have it professionally written – you’ll want to verify that your resume writer understands technology.

4 – Identify networking venues (online or otherwise) and potential contacts.

Networking doesn’t always mean in-person contact, but the more personal, the better. If you already belong to a professional or trade association, start using these contacts. If you don’t, now’s the time to join one.

Getting involved at either a local or national level in these associations can help boost your visibility, as can joining Groups within LinkedIn. Here, you’ll want to join in professional discussions, but on the subject of technology or engineering topics, NOT to advertise your job search.

Within LinkedIn, you can also use the Advanced People Search function to gather names of potential contacts, either because they work at your target companies or they have some insight to offer. Don’t forget recruiters, either – online networking gives you a good chance to check them out.

5 – Maximize your LinkedIn Profile.

If you’ve ignored your LinkedIn Profile for a while, now’s the time to beef it up. Recruiters like to look carefully at your job titles, education, and critical achievements online before considering you for a potential slot.

You’ll also find (as many of my engineering and leadership clients do) that your interviewers will look you up on the site, and so you’ll want that Profile to be more than ready – with a professional or personal headshot, a powerful Summary, and solid listing of job titles and accomplishments.

Following these 5 tips will give you a strong head start on the competition you’ll encounter, both in the job market at large and from other Cisco employees.  

Even with substantial job market challenges, strategic planning pays off with a faster job search – and a better position on the other end.

CIO Resumes: Mining IT Projects for Strategic Benefit

Are you a rising star in the IT world eager for a shot at the CIO role? Ascending from IT Director or VP takes more than just showing how you’ve leveraged the technology itself: you’ll need to first put yourself in the C-suite on paper.

As described by my recent article in ComputerWorld, most would-be technology executives stumble when it comes to resume writing at the CIO level.

Transitioning your value proposition to reflect officer-ready qualifications requires a significant transition from the traditional, skills-based resume that helped capture your last job in IT.

Here, I’ve included simple steps that can transform your IT resume from mundane, project-by-project details to a leadership brand message designed to land a CIO role.

First, I recommend making a list of the projects you’ve led, then answer the following questions about each one: 
  • What made these initiatives attractive to stakeholders (in terms of ROI)?
  • Were the benefits external or internal to the company (with impact to either the company’s customers or business users)?
  • How did the company leverage the new technologies from a PR standpoint?
  • And last of all, what competitive edge was gained from the project?

Now, take these project details and add specific budget or cost figures to demonstrate scope, as shown by these examples:

“Contributed to $4M total savings by working with regional CEO to incorporate SaaS and cloud technologies…”

“Delivered automation solutions that increased business productivity 43%—even with $300K reduction in operating costs…”

As you can see by these sample phrases from actual CIO resumes, focusing on the bottom line can help decision-makers review your credentials in a more strategic light.

In a future column, I’ll cover CIO resume writing techniques that showcase (and capitalize on) your executive relationships.