When James McPartland took on the CIO role at Torchmark Corporation in 2014, he had a big task before him: Show the rest of the business that IT could help drive growth.
7 ways to win the CIO role you covet
You’re working hard to win a CIO role, but are you taking the right steps? Here’s how to grow your appeal, stand out among candidates, and land that job
5. Define your personal brand
If you want a high-profile role like CIO, you’ll need to stand out in a sea of competitors. “Make sure you know and can articulate what differentiates you in the marketplace: What are the skills and experiences that you offer to a CIO role?” says Howard Seidel, senior partner at Essex Partners.
Replace abstract descriptions of leadership qualities with images of your unique skill set and experiences. It’s critical to project a CIO persona in all communications including your resume, LinkedIn profile, and executive bio as well as your appearance, body language, and speech. “I have found that most candidates looking to gain a CIO role are really at the director or senior manager level hoping to break into the executive ranks, but they lack a cohesive brand message,” says IT career advancement strategist Stephen Van Vreede. “Often, the story that they tell when meeting face-to-face does not align with the content they provide in their marketing documents.”
6. Build a market strategy
“The key to that strategy is networking – but you also want to have an approach to getting to relevant recruiters, targeting companies, and seeking out published openings,” Seidel says. Make sure your networking includes not only general contacts who may be able to help but also your champions who will advocate for you.
“Don’t just approach the network about their knowledge of jobs. That’s very obvious, but it can also lead to very short discussions if they don’t know of any,” says Siedel. “Ask for their advice on the market, on your resume, on working with relevant recruiters, on potential companies to target or other people with whom to connect.”
While doing this outreach, avoid clumsy networking gaffes: See our related story, 6 LinkedIn etiquette mistakes IT leaders hate.
Up-and-coming IT leaders should also focus on how to get their resumes – or themselves – in front of people who actually make the CIO hiring decisions. “Most candidates make the mistake of putting all their effort into activities that do not enable them to engage with this audience, instead having to deal with gatekeepers,” says Van Vreede.
7. Nurture your LinkedIn presence
First and foremost, get to know the LinkedIn algorithm, which considers more than just the keywords in your profile, advises Dave Denaro, vice president of Keystone Associates. A well-thought-out and active presence will increase the likelihood that you’ll get the call when a recruiter is launching a CIO search.
Develop a network, taking care to include CIOs and CEOs, says Denaro. “Being a first-tier connection to the person doing the looking is worth quite a bit in a LinkedIn algorithm. Make sure your profile is complete, filling out as many information fields as possible. Then, get more involved on LinkedIn.
“Be active on LinkedIn by endorsing others, responding to questions posed by group members, and posting work-related articles yourself,” Denaro says. “All of that is considered ‘activity’ on the platform and increases your relevance according to the system’s algorithm.” But take care not to harm your brand in the process.
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