Overview

A CIO is a Senior IT Director and usually a member of the board. This is a high-flying career path and one that is accessed by years of experience in related roles rather than being something you can aspire to straight out of university. Once you reach the level of CIO, you will be moving away from the nitty gritty of day to day IT operations and looking instead towards strategic IT planning for large, possibly global, businesses. Not all companies have a CIO and those that do tend to be very technology reliant with a large workforce over multiple locations.

The CIO’s role in a company is to ensure the efficiency and cost effective running of IT systems that deliver results against the company vision. The best way to view the role is as a bridge between the IT Department and the Senior Leadership Team; in most business departments, the senior manager is responsible for that department or sector alone, whereas a CIO can help to identify areas for improvement and implement solutions across the business as a whole.

This is a relatively  new position, but one that is growing in strength and popularity, so it is a good one to aim for. Because it is new, there are opportunities to forge a niche and have a say in career direction/objectives. An aspiring CIO will have exceptional leadership qualities and communication skills. He or she will be a confident influencer and trend setter, able to empower people to act independently towards a common direction and purpose.

To achieve status as a CIO you will need qualifications in business management, computing and/or applied sciences and you will need several years of experience at IT Manager or Director level as your starting point.

Pay

The median salary for IT Director level positions according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics is around $135,600/year. Similarly, job aggregator Payscale puts the median figure just slightly higher at $151,562/year. There is a pretty large variance in pay, though, with the lowest 10% of earners making just over $80K a year and the top 10% of earners making north of $208K a year.

Pay is further segmented depending on the location of the job with larger more tech-oriented cities like San Francisco and New York leading the way in pay. Additionally, the industry worked in also has an impact on median pay.

  • Information sector – $150,190/year
  • Computer systems design & related services sector – $143,040/year
  • Finance and insurance industries – $142,890/year
  • Manufacturing – $139,540/year
  • Management of companies and enterprises – $136,690/year

Not mentioned are entrepreneurs, VC backed startups and bootstrapped businesses, as pay is often a mix of salary and stock/equity options and can be as much as 100% equity with $0 in actual pay for those really bootstrapping their businesses.

Chief Information Officer Salary Statistics

2016 Median Pay$135,800 per year
$63.27 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationBachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
5 years or more
On-the-job Training
Not Required
Number of Jobs, 2016
348,500
Job Outlook, 2014-2024
+15%
Employment Change, 2014-2024
+53,700
Sources: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics & Payscale

With stock options and the growth of companies, the overall compensation levels can exceed the figures stated above quite drastically, however we have only included actual salaries and removed outliers by sharing median figures instead of averages. Competitiveness is ripe in this industry so always negotiate for a strong position when it comes to annual compensation as supply/demand leverage is on your side!

Industry Forecast

Our friends at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth rate of around 15% between 2014 to 2024, which is pretty stellar given:  A.  BLS are pretty conservative and B. the average growth rate for the same time period for all occupations combined is just 7%. That means IT directorship level positions are growing at over twice the rate of all other occupations combined.

Still, there is always an other side to the sword, and while high growth is overall undoubtedly positive, meaning good pay and job security, it also means competition will only continue to increase as more and more college graduates look to get a piece of the pie. Luckily, CIO is one position that not only requires technical expertise but years of experience as well. Still, as the years tick by there will be more and more young professionals entering CIO levels, which means your resume should constantly be kept up to date and battle ready.

Types of Chief Information Officers

As mentioned in the salary section above, CIO’s are often lumped into different categories; first, by the industry in which they operate. Each industry has its own unique set of challenges and requires a different technical background to operate proficiently; however, there is also plenty of overlap in terms of managing websites, servers and online security.

Other variants of the position include CTO (Chief Technical Officer), IT Manager, IT Director, Principal Software Engineer, Software Architect, and Senior Software Development Manager. These are about as high as you can get in terms of titles when operating in industries outside of tech, such as manufacturing, for example.

If operating in tech, then CIO’s can easily also work into or simultaneously be a company/startup’s COO, CEO, President and/or Founder. This is common for small startups in the mobile space and IOT spaces where working small and agile during startup phases is common and workers often “wear multiple hats” within a company.

Sample Resume Download

Below is a sample of a professionally written real-life resume that you can download and save to use for reference when crafting your own resume.

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How To Write Your Own

Restrained Styling

Doing a little web search for CTO or other IT related resumes, you will quickly find that there is a whole universe of resume styles out there, from the standardized to the technicolored and infographic-types. Copy My Resume always advises readers to stick to the classic layout with a simple font, standardized margins and no graphics or excess styling. Instead, especially for visual and online based industries, it is best to let an online portfolio express the creative facet, while the resume “takes care of business”, so to speak.

This is not to say you can not get linguistically creative with your resume. We encourage you to spend considerable time thinking of action oriented verbs that show positive and proactive actions. In terms of showing off coding skills, past projects or creativity, simply include a link to a Behance or Github page at the top under your contact information. This approach is the best of both worlds.

Quantify Achievements

Talking about letting your resume doing the talking, be sure to try to quantify your achievements with numerals whenever possible. This means including budgets and revenue written out in dollar terms, growth in percentage terms, IPO’s and acquisition sizes in dollar terms, the list of things you can quantify is endless. Quantifying provides scope and is the most succinct way to communicate truly impressive achievements.

Exhibit Business Leadership Skills (talent acquisition/development, company growth in size, revenue, product growth)

Given the seniority of this position, it is important to not only communicate the skills and expertise of a talented IT professional, but also the skills required of a good leader. As senior management you need to not just be able to do micromanagement type work, but also work on the macro level in regards to growing a healthy business.

This means you will want to include skills like financial modeling, cash flow management, expansion and acquisitions, even talent/HR skills. A CIO not only has an eye for IT but should also have an eye for other young skilled professionals whose hiring would be an asset to the company. Organizational skills, responsibility delegation, roadmap creating and management of project managers are all business oriented skills expected of seasoned CIOs.

Part of projecting business leader traits is speaking in business terms. This goes beyond server management and site migrations and  involves company growth, revenue and user acquisition. Your resume should show a track record of proactive growth. Whether in direct revenue dollars or users or VC attracted, try to communicate you know far more than making the ship’s engines hum; you are fully capable of taking the helm and steering the ship, as well.

Sample Bullet Points

Below is a selection of IT managerial level experience bullet point examples you can use to help kickstart your own brainstorming processes.

Sample CIO Bullet Points

Task
Review project plans to plan and coordinate project activity.
Manage backup, security and user help systems.
Develop and interpret organizational goals, policies, and procedures.
Develop computer information resources, providing for data security and control, strategic computing, and disaster recovery.
Consult with users, management, vendors, and technicians to assess computing needs and system requirements.
Stay abreast of advances in technology.
Meet with department heads, managers, supervisors, vendors, and others, to solicit cooperation and resolve problems.
Provide users with technical support for computer problems.
Recruit, hire, train and supervise staff, or participate in staffing decisions.
Evaluate data processing proposals to assess project feasibility and requirements.
Control operational budget and expenditures.
Review and approve all systems charts and programs prior to their implementation.
Direct daily operations of department, analyzing workflow, establishing priorities, developing standards and setting deadlines.
Assign and review the work of systems analysts, programmers, and other computer-related workers.
Evaluate the organization's technology use and needs and recommend improvements, such as hardware and software upgrades.
Prepare and review operational reports or project progress reports.
Purchase necessary equipment.

Summary of Qualifications

While entry level applicants and those with less than 12 years of experience usually start their resumes off with short and succinct “career objectives”, senior level candidates like CTOs are afforded the luxury of employing the qualifications summary, instead.

What is a qualifications summary? Well, at its most basic, it is a career objective on steroids. Instead of just 1-2 sentences in length, it can be up to a full paragraph and contain anywhere from 4-6 bullet points highlighting career hallmarks.

This type of opener is powerful as it encapsulates your most significant achievements right off the bat for the reader. In a way, the qualification summary is like a commercial for a “greatest hits” album where you get an irresistible taste of the background of the applicant, which leads to reading the body of the resume and ultimately interviewing.

This little section should be packed with your biggest numbers, like impressive revenue growth or managing large numbers of people.  You can include a qualifications summary at the top of a reverse chronological resume or as the opener for a “functional” style resume, as well.

It pays to invest considerable time and thought into this section as it is essentially the “introduction” to your resume and thus a “make or break moment” in terms of urging the reader on to the next progression in the hiring/vetting process.

Awards, Recognitions & Associations

While junior to mid-level IT professionals will usually end their resumes with an additional skills section, this is not fully fitting for a senior level applicant. Having risen to the top of your industry, you should have received at least a few accolades along the way or special recognition from previous companies for your service. Include these, as even though they may feel a bit braggadocious, they are indicative of a quality employee and thus highly desirable for companies looking for a real action-oriented CIO.

Additionally, include any professional associations you may be a member of, whether a national or international professionals group or a local community/volunteer organization. Managing a scouting chapters web presence, for example, not only shows off your skills, but also community involvement and social awareness which are traits not easily taught yet highly valued by top-tier companies in their management groups.

Useful Skills to Include

Below is a selection of skills you can use for reference for composing the body of your resume or mixing in your awards, recognitions and associations section.

Useful Chief Information Officer Skills

SkillSkill Description
Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical ThinkingUsing logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
MonitoringMonitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Complex Problem SolvingIdentifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.
CoordinationAdjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Social PerceptivenessBeing aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Judgment and Decision MakingConsidering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
InstructingTeaching others how to do something.
Systems AnalysisDetermining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Systems EvaluationIdentifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Time ManagementManaging one's own time and the time of others.
Management of Personnel ResourcesMotivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
NegotiationBringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Active LearningUnderstanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Learning StrategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
Operations AnalysisAnalyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
PersuasionPersuading others to change their minds or behavior.
Service OrientationActively looking for ways to help people.
Operation MonitoringWatching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Management of Financial ResourcesDetermining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
Management of Material ResourcesObtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
MathematicsUsing mathematics to solve problems.
ProgrammingWriting computer programs for various purposes.
TroubleshootingDetermining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Quality Control AnalysisConducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Technology DesignGenerating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
Equipment SelectionDetermining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
RepairingRepairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
Operation and ControlControlling operations of equipment or systems.
Equipment MaintenancePerforming routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
InstallationInstalling equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.

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