I've seen a good deal of interest in my earlier post on Technical Resume Strategies for New IT Leaders. I'd therefore like to expand on that post, and give more detail on technical resume best practices for the critical transition points in your IT career. Today, I'll address the transition from a hands-on role to IT Manager or IT Director. One very common issue I see in the resumes that cross my desk is the tendency to simply update an existing resume with each new job. That can work when the jobs are relatively similar. However,...
The transition to a leadership role requires a complete rethinking of your IT resume.
The transition to IT Manager or IT Director is a significant one - and one that not every IT professional wishes to make. Many technical professional enjoy being hands-on - that's what got them interested in technology in the first place, and they often don't want to lose that - even for more money and more responsibility. Similarly, not everyone has the interest or talent to manage teams.
So the first step in preparing an IT Leadership resume is being completely honest and clear with yourself that that's what you actually want to do. But when you ARE ready to take the next step, here are a few ideas.
1) Target your next step and use your future goals to focus your it manager resume It's often commonly assumed that a resume is primarily about the past. While the content, of course, details your past career progression and successes, the resume as a whole must always speak to the future - specifically to the next opportunity you're targeting.
So think carefully about what's going to be involved in the transition to IT Manager or IT Director. Read as many relevant job postings as possible. Think about what you bring to the table that matches the job requirements you're targeting. In addition, think carefully about the style of the job postings to get a better sense of the intangibles for each role.
That should give a better sense of what you need to include - and just as importantly, what you may want to omit. .
2) Highlight - and quantify - accomplishments This is, of course, critical in IT resumes for any position - other than pure R&D. Focus on what you've done to help accomplish business objectives. As I've written previously, the CAR approach - Challenge / Action / Results can be a powerful tool to define what you've delivered to your organization. (Nice. with a link)
Use numbers wherever possible! An achievement with a percentage or dollar value is MUCH more memorable than an achievement written in a less concrete way. I realize that hard numbers aren't always available - but if you can get them, by all means use them!
There's a huge difference between a bullet that says, "Improved overall network efficiency," and one that says, "Grew uptime to consistently overachieve 99.9 SLA."
3) Highlight strategic business vision Demonstrating that you see the big picture is critical. Effective leaders need to see the connections; they need to see beyond IT, and beyond the immediate day-to-day issues. IT leaders need to focus not on technology as an end in itself, but as a tool to solve pressing, real-world problems. So bring out those aspects of your career where you've seen beyond today's problem - and used that vision to proactively prevent tomorrow's issue.
4) Highlight partnerships with other business units This is, of course, directly related to the previous topic. Too often, IT is still seen as largely separate from broader business concerns. So if you can demonstrate that you've forged positive relationships with the larger organization, this will go a long way to show that you know how to use technology to bring real value to the enterprise as a whole.
4) Highlight IT leadership If you've been a direct team lead, definitely include that - and include the size and scope of the team. But if not, don't forget to include matrixed teams - if you've had a leadership role, even without direct reports, the experience is extremely valuable - and should be included. Also include any coaching, mentoring, or talent development you may have done - that's of major importance as you move into management.
6) Streamline hands-on IT achievements Obviously, if you're a Software Architect or Senior Network Engineer looking to advance to the IT Manager or Director of IT level, I'm not suggesting that you omit what you've done for the bulk of your career - the actual technical accomplishments you've delivered in your previous roles. But here - as throughout the resume - balance is the key. Clearly detail the technologies and tools you've used to solve real business challenges. But don't get lost in the weeds. Don’t make your resume a detailed technical laundry list.
7) Move technical core competencies to the end of the resume In hands-on IT roles, it's generally best practice to include your list of technical tools on the first page of your resume, right after the professional profile - space permitting, of course. The reason for that is simple; if you've going for a job as a Java architect, you need to demonstrate those competencies front and center so the hiring authority can qualify you for the opportunity.
But as you advance in your career - while you don't want to omit this information - you don't want to lead with it, either. I'm a firm believer in including technical core competencies - even in a CTO or CIO resume. My experience as a recruiter leaves me convinced that businesses seek IT leaders who have come up from the ranks, and can communicate with equal facility in the C-suite or with technical engineering teams.
The solution? I suggest transitioning your IT core competencies to the end of the document - after education. You may also want to streamline the technologies you include; at the IT Manager or IT Director level, you don't need a page of technologies to demonstrate that you have the hands-on experience to successfully lead teams.
To tie this post together, the transition from hands-on IT to an IT Manager or IT Director role is one of the most critical in your career. So this is not the time to simply update your existing resume and hope for the best.
You need to rethink your resume - including content and formatting - to ensure that you present yourself as a strong IT leader.
If you have any questions - or would like a free resume review – please contact me here, where you can upload a copy of your current resume; I'll get back in touch with you as soon as possible.