Mar 12 2014, 5:01pm CDT | by Forbes
I don’t know whether it’s because of the high-profile CIO firings or the high-profile CIO resignations , but there’s a lot of advice out there for unemployed and newly employed CIOs. Even though CIO tenures have lengthened , at some point most CIOs are going to be between gigs.
This week at FierceCIO, David Weldon interviewed IT recruiter Rona Borre about crafting the perfect CIO resume . The skills necessary to get a new job are exactly the opposite of those that might have gotten you into the CIO’s chair in the first place: “It’s about being able to tell a story and being able to show what you have done throughout an organization to create an end product. … [B]eing able to really strongly tell that story with specific examples of what you actually delivered on, and have strong testimony on, is key.”
Translation: it’s not what you did that was so important, but why you did it and how it helped.
But as Kim Nash noted a couple of weeks ago in CIO, there are other, harder issues than just crafting a resume – that is, surviving the dark days of unemployment . Going from a position of high-level importance to pounding the pavement is difficult for even a healthy ego. As Nash notes, other potential casualties include bank accounts, marriages, and self-esteem.
But unemployment does have its upside. Based on the advice in these two articles, it’s a great time to network, to engage in short-term consulting engagements, to mentor, and to open your horizons to new opportunities.
So what happens after you get the job? Given that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, what tactics should you employ to ensure your tenure is long and happy, rather than short and stormy? As Rich Hein notes last week in CIO, “today’s leadership style is no longer a command-and-control situation. It’s about empowering those around you to do their best work.”
That means listening more than talking, networking with as many peers and underlings as possible, and being open to solutions from unexpected sources. Interestingly enough, these are the same things you should do on your job search, so you should be used to the idea.
And what if you’re just worried about the prospects of being axed? In that case (and for the benefit of your staff), check out this recent piece on the potential of e-learning . This works great for building up skills among your staff that you can’t pay enough to hire.
Finally, it’s important to think beyond the short term. What’s your future in IT? How are you going to prepare for that? In this InformationWeek piece, Charles Araujo, author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT Is About To Change, posits that “80% of what the average IT organization does today will no longer be done within the walls of the enterprise.” That means CIOs and IT staffers alike are going to have to do at least two things: “Become one of the best 20% in a technology domain that provides strategic differentiation … [and] retool your skills to remain relevant in the IT organization of the near future.”
Perhaps the most important point – whether you’re employed and worried or unemployed and terrified – is to remember how much you’ve learned over the years, and acknowledge that you’re going to have to keep learning. As ADP CIO Mike Capone notes in this recent CIO article targeting those who are worried about being too old to land a new IT job , “Age, in and of itself, doesn’t matter, but adaptability does.” You know that change management thing everyone keeps talking about in IT? It’s important in your life too.
Email CIO Next Community Manager Howard Baldwin if you’re a CIO who wants to spout off in an opinion piece about getting a job.
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