For many a long year techies were promoted on the strength of being a good techie. Thankfully IT leaders are ever more stepping up to the challenges of commercial leadership, and the age of a ‘tame techie’ running the show has passed. It has however, left us with a hangover that extends down into the IT organisation. It’s time that aspirant leaders engage on the same agenda and add value beyond their tech domain expertise.
On this topic I recently read an old blog on The Register titled; ‘Why your Tech CV Sucks’ apparently written by a recruiter of sorts. At one level it was amusing, on another it was simply provocative and full of needless bravado. But, buried deep amongst it all were some valid points.
While technical competence may remain core to your role and your aspiration, if you are seeking a leadership role you will need to change the light in which you are seen. Your resume (and LinkedIn profile if you have one, and you should have one) is your shop window. It should showcase skills and experiences, but in terms that connect your deliverables to commercial outcomes in measurable terms. Here are some of my thoughts on the common areas for improvement in shaping your CV to have wider leadership appeal, hopefully in a more approachable form:
· Focus - Clean, simple, and relevant messages that add value to the reader, and the opportunity you are pursuing. How relevant is the minutiae of technical execution from the 90’s? Most of the technologies have been surpassed, and are not what you want to be known for now. Think business results and ensure your teams ‘get it’ too.
- Scale & Priority - As with ‘Focus’, only make a point that’s worth making. Most relevant and most recent achievements deserve more space on the page. Cover the critical path, but lead with the success. Embark upon a long drawn ‘tale’ and you may lose your reader at the first bend. Keep it punchy, succinct, upbeat and interesting.
- Jargon & Acronyms - This isn’t bingo; you aren’t aiming for a full house of buzz words. Use them sparingly and appropriately. Overload your CV with them and you send a clear message; you don’t speak the language of the business or customer.
- Outputs over Inputs - Technology alone rarely differentiates. Technical competence in the ‘inputs’ is important. But understanding and focusing upon the delivery of the commercial impact it delivers, in terms the customer recognises is king.
- Keep Lists for Shopping - Long lists of technologies / techniques/ certifications and qualifications gained are low priority. How you’ve used them and to what end is what we’re really after. If you have to use lists, make sure they are accurate, concise and at the back of your CV.
Technologists often feel most secure talking about their areas of expertise – in the formative years of the career this expertise is what the business has valued most. But as you change and grow, so must the language you use, the value you add and the impact you land within the business. For any sort of leadership role, the deep details of the ‘doing’ are not marketing messages for a CV – focus on how your successes contributed to business success in commercial terms that will get you noticed.
Matt Cockbill is a Partner at Berwick Partners, and leads the IT Leadership & Technology Practice.