By: John Hutchins, Quantix Vice President, Client Services
Crafting a quality resume is not an easy task, especially if you have hung up your technical skills and moved into the management ranks. As an IT executive, how do you effectively communicate your expertise and skills to a hiring manager, search firm or recruiter? Now that you’re no longer ‘technical,’ what do you include in your resume? You have 20 plus years of experience – if you include everything, your resume will turn into a Russian novel – what do you exclude? Here are a few tips regarding resume best practices for IT executives:
1) Overall Format. Resumes for IT executives should follow the typical format – objective, summary, job history and education. The difference is in the type of information you include in each of these sections. For example, in the summary you shouldn’t focus on your past technical skills. Instead, mention your areas of expertise from a higher level. For a software development manager, it might be implementing the Agile methodology or moving all software development from J2EE to .NET. For infrastructure support managers, it might be implementing ITIL or managing a major systems upgrade. Either way, focus on the big picture and emphasize your leadership skills.
2) Qualify and Quantify Your Experience. Hiring managers, search firms and recruiters want to know not only what you’ve done, but the size of your experience. Being an executive at a 20-person company is very different than a 10,000-person company. Be specific about the size of your experience. Under each job listed on your resume, qualify and quantify your experience by including the number of direct/indirect reports, the size of your budget and the size of your responsibilities.
3) Describe the Technical Environment. Even though you are no longer a hands-on technical professional, it’s still important to communicate your technical prowess from a management perspective. Do this by including a technical environment subsection under each of your previous jobs. This provides the reader with a better understanding of your technical knowledge, but doesn’t give the impression that you are able or want to return to being a hands-on technical professional.
4) Focus on Accomplishments. In the summary section, briefly mention two or three big accomplishments. In the job history section, go into more detail regarding these accomplishments and add a few smaller accomplishments. Don’t forget to qualify and quantify each one. How big was the team? How many systems were impacted? How important were those systems? How many users were impacted? How much money did you save the company?
5) Size Matters. Some IT executives try to limit themselves to one or two pages. If you have enough experience to be an executive, there is no way you can adequately cover your expertise and skills in a mere two pages. With that said, I don’t want you to go to the other extreme and create a resume requiring a table of contents. As with all things, there is a happy medium and that happy medium is five pages. Remember, however, that you should still limit yourself to only the information that is necessary to get your point across. If you can get your point across in three or four pages, that’s better than five – but don’t leave important information out of your resume either.
6) Think of Your Resume as a Proposal. Stop thinking of your resume as a recitation of your professional life. Instead, think of it as a proposal. Before you submit your resume, take the time to carefully read the job description, research the company and research the company’s leadership. Pay particular attention to the language they use in the job advertisement, the company website and leadership’s LinkedIn profiles. Incorporate this language into your resume. Don’t be dishonest about your expertise and skills, but do your best to decipher what they are interested in and then tweak your resume to focus on some of those areas.
Creating an effective resume is not easy for anyone. It will probably cause you some frustration and angst. Incorporate the tips mentioned above, use spell check, ask a few friends for feedback, then get out there and find that perfect executive-level position! Happy job hunting!