Executive IT Resumes: How Far Back Do You Go?

Posted on March 27, 2012. Filed under: CIO, Resumes | Tags: , , , |

technical resumeby Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)

Tell Your Story, but Keep it Brief

As a director-level or executive-level candidate in the IT and technical field, the decision about the amount of information to include in any IT resume is very important. Among those considerations is how many years of experience should you show on your technical resume? Many have differing opinions about how far back a candidate should go on his or her resume. Prevailing thought among those in the resume industry has been to include about 10-12 years of work history on a resume. Professional resume writers will often cite potential age discrimination, lack of employer interest, and space as the core reasons to not include any information beyond the 10- or 12-year mark.

In my opinion, for someone at a director level or going for an executive role, 12 years of work history just won’t cut it. While you don’t want to portray yourself as too old on paper, you also don’t want to mistakenly communicate that your experience doesn’t match up with those you will be competing against. I can also tell you that 12 years of experience will not attract executive recruiters or corporate executive decision makers to your corner, either.

In my experience, people want to get an understanding of how you started out and how you progressed to where you are today. Of course, when they read your technical resume, they don’t want it to be 5 pages in length either. Creating some type of abbreviated entry for your older history going back about 20-25 years can provide them with the information they desire without drastically increasing the page count of your resume while maintaining the focused branding message you are seeking as a technical executive.

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The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount to our followers. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

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Self-employment on Your Resume: Is it Your Scarlet Letter?

Posted on December 18, 2008. Filed under: Resumes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Over the past year, I (@rezlady) have been on a quest to dispel as many myths as possible when it comes to job hunting, in general, and to the resume, in particular. Unfortunately, with all the online job posting sites available, these fallacies have a way of taking on a life of their own and even manage to fool many good resume writers and career coaches out there.

Contractors: You’re Entrepreneurs Too!

One of the most frustrating to me is in regard to self-employment and resumes. For years now, job seekers have been told that if they have a self-employment background that they need to downplay it or even leave it off from their resumes entirely. The original premise was that companies look down on self-employment and almost regard it as unemployment. In other words, it looks like a “gap” on your resume between one corporate position and the next.

Now it is true that employers do tend to look skeptically at self-employment, and for good reason. Many job seekers try to pass off periods of unemployment by claiming that they started their own business, which may or may not really be true. I had a job seeker the other day that was trying to explain away 2 years of unaccounted for work history. He claimed that he had started his own business flipping houses; however, during those 2 years, he had only flipped 1 house and that was a house he inherited from his father. It certainly didn’t cover the full 2 years. So he tried to make the most of it on his resume, which truthfully was all that he could do.

An employment gap is just that an employment gap, and you can spin it a thousand ways, but an astute employer will see it for what it is, no matter how savvy the writer.

What I am really referring to here are true entrepreneurs, people who have started, built, and managed legitimate small businesses. These companies have names. They have statistics. They have real clients or accounts.

Corporations would be crazy to turn their noses up at these people, and these job seekers would be equally as crazy to downplay this experience.

Entrepreneurs are some of the hardest working people on the planet. They are driven. They are rainmakers. They know how to wear lots of hats. These are all things that companies love and desire.

It’s All About Strategy

As with pretty much anything else, handling situations like these comes down to having a wise strategy. It is definitely true that when you craft a resume, you must always keep your audience at the forefront. And you must balance how much focus you give to different positions from your past. So I am not suggesting that you make a bigger deal out of your business than you should. It all depends on your target and the field/industry you are in. (For instance, if you are going for an engineering position, I might not go overboard on the fact that you operated a cookie business for 5 years; it just isn’t that relevant to the target; nevertheless, this doesn’t also mean that I think you should leave it off the resume completely.)

But somewhere along the line both job seekers and some HR types have spread the word that self-employment is bad news on a resume.

So my bottom-line advice is simple: Stop listening to scare tactics and start employing a clear plan to your resume. Find a good writer you can trust, who can help you assess how your self-employment plays out against your target market. Be smart and make sure that you can talk “corporate speak” and have a clear and focused brand that you position online through social. Honestly, if you can do that, you are way ahead of many corporate-lifers. For my technical job seekers, you really should check out our specific tips for consultants.

But whatever you do, don’t go hide in shame because you once worked on your own. Remember that many people out there today who would love to venture out and work on their own, even if it was just for a little while. Whomever said that self-employment is not worthy of merit on a resume apparently never came out of their cubicle.

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it! Or send us a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount to our followers. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

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Tough Love for the Executive-Level Job Seeker

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , , , , |

I’ve had the privilege of working with job seekers of a wide range of backgrounds and industries. But this past year, I have concentrated much of my time to working with executives and executive-wannabes.

Why, you might ask?

Because I saw that of all levels of professionals, it was executives who seemed to have lost their grasp on how to conduct an effective job search and on how to do it in a professional manner. Honestly, I think many of them simply don’t take their job search all that seriously. At least, they don’t act like they do.

Professionalism…It is quickly becoming a lost art, I’m afraid. From scruffy facial hair to baggy jeans to disastrous cell phone and e-mail etiquette, I’m beginning to think that people view their work environments as nothing more than an extension of their college dorm room.

I can’t tell you how many illegible e-mails I receive on a daily basis from job seekers demanding salaries of no less than $150,000. Right now I have one in front of me from a “whearhouse director” and another from a “hop corporate raider.” Then there is the CEO who can’t attach a file to his e-mail. So every time I send him something to review, he prints it out, writes on it, and faxes it back to me. Now I’m sure he has some great operations skills, but if this is how he conducts business on a regular basis, he must drive everyone nuts! Not to mention the fact that he can’t possibly be giving potential employers the best impression.

For some reason, the more successful we become, the more we rely on our accomplishments to do all the talking and the less effort we put into considering how we present ourselves to the rest of the world. And, to some extent, that is understandable.

After all, we have worked hard. We climbed that ladder. We jumped through those hoops. So who cares about our facial hair? We saved the company $2M last year alone!!

It also doesn’t help matters that there are several top-rated corporations out there who have taken on the persona of their college dorm room CEOs. Their headquarters are virtually playlands of gyms, game rooms, and massage tables. And everyone wears “cas” and looks like they just rolled out of bed.

(I know, I’m a bore. Even worse, I am a…traditionalist, you might say. It sounds like I want us to go back to the corporate Dark Ages. Right?)

Don’t get me wrong…this lifestyle is great while it lasts, but when it is time to move on, reality hits: Not everyone in the world goes to work in their pajamas and straggly hair.

I know, you’re the renegade. You’re worth it, so your beard and tattoo don’t matter. And good spelling? Well, you’re above that. That’s what we have assistants for, right?

This logic may work in the movies, and it may even work for a select few. But I can tell you, executive or not, most people don’t want to do business with a slob and with someone whose grammar and computer skills are worse than a 4th grader, no matter how fantastic you are.

So let’s get back to the basics. You have the credentials. You have the experience and the metrics to back it up. Now it is time to remember those early days when you first started out: buy a new suit, find your razor, and for God’s sake, learn how to spell!

 

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