Congratulations! You’ve spent years finding your place in IT, working on dev teams, and taking on SaaS leadership roles. Now you’re finally ready to embrace that title of CTO.
But how do you show recruiters that you’re the right one for the job when they have a stack of resumes on their desk from qualified candidates with the same skills?
Chief Technology Officer means different things to different companies. A CTO in a 9-person SaaS startup and a CTO in a two-hundred-people fintech enterprise are two completely different jobs.
The key is to tailor your resume to the role you’re applying to. Figure out what goals your target company has and show them how you’ll get them there.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to write a CTO resume that is irresistible to hiring managers and gets interviews.
In this CTO resume guide you will learn:
- How to craft a CTO resume that catches the attention of recruiters right away
- The framework of a great CTO resume using real-world examples
- How to write engaging and concise CTO resume sections
- How to strike a balance between your technical and leadership skills to maximize your interview callbacks
Looking for related resumes?
How to write a powerful CTO resume
When hiring managers look at your resume, they want to know that you can provide solutions to company problems. Being a jack of all trades won’t accomplish this.
When applying for a CTO position, read the job description carefully and identify the main IT challenge that the company faces.
Your CTO resume should convey that you can identify the problem, know how to solve it, and can implement a solution.
This is what will set you apart from other candidates who provide blanket resumes that don’t target specific requirements.
Not sure how to accomplish this?
Use this framework to make your good CTO resume a great CTO resume:
- Analyze job requirements and company profile
- Identify the global technological pain within the company
- Think about what kind of CTO the company would need to address the challenge
- Think of what kind of CTO would exceed the company’s expectation
- Use these insights to craft an irresistible resume
We analyzed hundreds of CTO job descriptions and identified the major challenges for companies in different fields.
Company #1: a solar energy platform provider
Main challenge: staying innovative in a rapidly evolving industry
Good CTO: ensures the company’s technology is not in the way of innovation
Great CTO: facilitates an innovative technology-driven environment and culture
Company #2: government property tax department
Main challenge: ensure the reliability and accessibility of IT infrastructure
Good CTO: ensures everything is running round the clock
Great CTO: all of the above plus enhances infrastructure's security, data quality, and service.
Company #3: national software and consultancy company
Main challenge: expanding market share
Good CTO: makes sure the platform works great and customers are happy
Great CTO: establishes a customer-centric environment where technology drives customer acquisition
Once you’ve identified the global technological challenge with the company, build the rest of your resume with this in mind.
Don’t forget, you still have to make every section of your CTO resume concise and engaging. Recruiters won’t waste time with a resume that doesn’t get to the point and is packed with jargon.
Let’s take a look at one of the examples above and see how it follows this framework.
Company #3 is a national software and consultancy company, but the guidance here can easily be applied to CTO positions in a different field.
Let’s talk about what sections a captivating CTO resume should include.
Recommended resume sections for chief technology officer
- A header that pulls in recruiters and leaves a lasting impression
- An experience section that convinces recruiters and senior managers that your leadership will be organized, meaningful, and productive
- A skills section that demonstrates you can find common ground with both technical and non-technical personnel
- Education and certification sections to back up your strong portfolio
- Other sections that separate your achievements, projects, and highlights from other candidates
What recruiters want to see in your CTO resume
- Are you a strategic leader and not just a technical guru?
- Can you address the current challenges within a company in an organized and effective manner?
- Can you be a proactive leader and drive results that are beyond the current scope of development?
- Will your technical leadership create a positive momentum for the whole organization?
- Can you establish workflows that will drive the company’s growth in the future?
CTO resume header section: don’t leave the first impression to chance
Recruiters look at hundreds of resumes a day and only spend a few seconds on each one. You need to make a strong impression within that tiny window.
When recruiters read a resume, they tend to start at the top and spend the most time scanning job titles and mission statements.
Your header is the very first thing they see and your opportunity to grab their attention.
The majority of candidates will include their names and contact info and move on to the next section.
Remember, every section must be both concise and engaging. Make your CTO resume more memorable by including:
- Customized headline
- Link to your professional profile (LinkedIn, Github)
Getting your CTO resume headline right
The headline is a short and brief sentence that describes you and your work in relation to the position you’re applying for.
The main goal of your headline is to grab the recruiter’s attention and demonstrate the relevance of your experience to their company.
As we’ve established, CTO responsibilities look different for different companies.
Just having “Chief Technology Officer” as your headline doesn’t communicate anything about your skills and abilities. Tailor yours to demonstrate how you will solve the company's problem.
For example, you wouldn’t use the headline “Driving innovation in agile startups since 2008” if the company's problem is managing reliable networks.
Just as you would not write “Expert in managing and facilitating reliable network systems” when the company's problem is maintaining innovation.
For Company #3, a national software and consultancy business, use the headline “Expert leadership in customer-driven technological platforms.”
Linking your professional profile
You definitely want to include a profile link in your CTO resume header. The question is, which profile will you be linking to, LinkedIn or Github?
Again, this requires a bit of digging into your target company to find out what kind of CTO they’re looking for.
If your target CTO role is highly-technical and you have to actively participate in the development of your product, prioritize linking to your GitHub profile.
If the role is strategic with C-level executive meetings, global technology leader, and so on, feature your developed LinkedIn profile to hint at your soft and networking skills.
Keep in mind that while recruiters may not take the time to follow links, hiring managers will. Companies want to get a clear idea of who they’re hiring, so be sure the profile you include captures that. If your Github profile is a dead page with some unfinished projects and broken code, best not to include it.
In our example, we’ll link to both, as the CTO job we’re applying for involves both active participation in platform development and a developed sales mindset.
We’ll put Linkedin first because company #3 expects its CTO to leverage technology excellence to expand the customer database and actively build partnerships.
What doesn’t work in the header example above:
- The headline is only a generic job title
- There are no profile links
What works in the header example above:
- The headline conveys job-specific expertise
- Links to LinkedIn and Github are included
CTO resume experience section: looking beyond the job requirements
Now that you’ve got an incredible header that will impress recruiters, let’s get to work on your experience section.
You’ve already hooked recruiters with your strong headline, you don’t want to lose them with a boring and irrelevant experience section.
A common mistake people make when writing a targeted resume is they take the “tailor to the job description” advice a bit too far.
Don’t just copy and paste a company’s job requirements into your CTO resume. It will look bad, and boring, and you’re not fooling anyone.
For example, here are some of the requirements from our target CTO job description:
- Develop the team to be well-positioned to establish technical credibility in sales cycles, so that they can stand toe to toe with any and all CTOs, CIOs, Chief Architects, Senior Developers, etc.
- Working with the Partner team identifies ISVs and SIs that are the key players in the domains, and helps prioritize which systems are important targets.
- Responsible for ensuring that the broader technical community understands both the use cases and technology involved in the select domains.
- Responsible for platform adoption by customers and partners.
- Develops plans for thought leadership in each domain, and manages the team regularly speaking at industry events, conferences, symposiums, etc.
Copying the requirements into your resume will get you something like this:
- Facilitated platform adoption among customers
- Identified key partnerships
- Regularly spoke at events and conferences
Look beyond the requirements. Remember how your 8th-grade English teacher told you to “read between the lines?”
We’ve already identified the main challenge of our target company: customer acquisition and strategic partnerships.
What kind of a CTO would a company need to address this challenge? What’s in your previous experience that makes you uniquely equipped to excel at this goal?
If you’re struggling to take this information and write something about yourself, try the following steps.
Decide what qualities are needed by the company. Analyze your strongest qualities. Take the overlap and apply this formula:
[Action verb] [this] as measured in [that] by doing [X]
Now you’re building a narrative where you have the right experience to meet company needs and can support it with specific examples.
- Accelerated outbound sales cycle by 330% by designing and implementing customer acquisition platform for training and managing technical sales personnel
- Established and curated strategic partnerships with 6 out of 10 top state manufacturing companies which resulted in $20M additional annual revenue
- Led re-architect effort of a core SaaS product to reduce the platform deployment time for clients by 2 months
The experience section above uses the provided formula to show why the candidate is qualified for this specific job.
Examples with numbers and statistics show the company how you will exceed their goals and expectations. Simply saying “facilitated platform adoption among customers” doesn’t tell them anything about your successes or achievements.
Of course, a typical CTO role will include many responsibilities. Project management, IT leadership, development strategy, and staff training might all be part of the job description.
Focus on the ones that are your greatest achievements and will be the most impactful for your target job.
CTO skill section: how to get ahead of your competition
The position you’re applying for will influence the best format choice for your skills section.
Some companies will want you to jump in alongside the engineers and exercise those DevOps skills. Others will look to your leadership skills to recruit and retain top-level IT talent, execute global IT strategy, and scale operations.
Almost every CTO comes from a technical background, so putting all the focus on your tech skills won’t make you stand out - every candidate will have a great section.
Soft skills are often what separates a good CTO from a great CTO. Leadership, communication, and team management play a major role in CTO responsibilities.
If you have a software background, you’re probably more comfortable talking about Java, Python, MySQL, and other technologies rather than your ability to lead and organize projects.
However, simply listing soft skills on your resume won’t be enough to convince recruiters. Like the achievements in your experience section, it is best to demonstrate by showing examples.
Presenting soft skills in a real-world context allows you to show evidence of your soft skills and emphasize your achievements once again.
For example, you analyze the target job description and see that part of the job is to present a platform to partners and clients through events and conferences. Use your past experience and show your presentation skills in an engaging context:
“Delivered keynote speech at Global 2020 Innovative Tech Conference on customer management workflows”
Another way to make your skills section stand out from your competition is to frame it in a way that is fresh and original.
Titling your soft skills section “key achievements,” “strengths,” or something similar adds some originality to your CTO resume format and will draw the recruiters’ eye.
Use the CTO template in our resume builder tool and add your soft skills in the section labeled “key achievements” like the example above.
Still not sure which soft skills to focus on? Here are some of the most desired soft skills to add to your chief technical officer resume:
8 eye-catching soft skills to put on your CTO resume
- Problem solving
- Strategic thinking
- Staff coaching and mentorship
- Applied Innovation
- Presentation skills
Now that you’ve crafted an expert CTO soft skills section, let’s add in your technical skills.
It might be tempting to dump all the coding languages and software technologies you’ve learned throughout your career onto the page, but it’s better to be selective.
Focus on your strongest skills that are most relevant to the role. Showing that you’re familiar with the company's tech stack will be a major plus.
Don’t feature basic skills like MS Office and Windows. Programs like this have become the standard in most industries and it will be expected that you know.
Find ways to group skills together, e.g. MVP development, BI management, and CRM administration. This will make your skill section easier to process for recruiters who are only looking at it for a few seconds.
Another reason to tailor your technical skills to the job description is so that they will be picked up by ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) filters. Make your resume doesn’t get tossed out by ATS before it even makes it in front of a recruiter.
Here are some of the technical skills to consider putting on your CTO resume:
12 hard skills to put on your CTO resume
- Technical sales
- MVP development
- Agile development
- Programming languages
- Front-end development
- Back-end development
Education & certification sections in CTO resumes
The majority of CTO positions will require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, or a closely related field. Depending on the size and scope of the company, some may even require an MBA.
As you format and write your resume, keep in mind that the recruiter should already want to interview you before they even get to your education section. The degree may be the final requirement, but your header, experience, and skills should be what really make you stand out.
The same goes for certificates: those are not required but can strengthen your overall profile, especially if you have certifications in areas where the company is struggling.
If you’ve set your sights on a particular CTO position and need a bit more experience in a particular skill, you might want to look into relevant certifications and courses.
Some examples are security and network certifications (CISSP), IT management (CGEIT, CAPM), Sif Sigma, COBIT, etc.
Other CTO resume sections to consider
Your header, experience, skills, and education will be enough to make most CTO resumes get interviews. However, CTO positions for certain companies may look for unique or specialized skills. Adding these to your resume can make your CTO resume even more impactful.
For example, if you are applying for a CTO position that works with international partners, including languages on your resume can be helpful.
In the past, you may have done volunteer work, completed projects, or have hobbies that demonstrate the leadership and strategic management skills necessary for a CTO role.
Depending on the role you’re applying for and what the company requires, other sections you may want to include are highlights, references, awards, and publications.
Key takeaways for creating a CTO resume that lands interviews
- Identify global challenges within a company, understand how your experience can address them, and build your resume accordingly
- Grab recruiters’ attention with a customized and highly-relevant resume headline
- Link to your professional profiles to hint at your developed soft and technical skills
- Present your experience as a series of strategic IT achievements rather than a list of technical workflows
- Make sure you pass ATS filters and catch the eye of recruiters by using keywords from the original job posting
- Keep the balance between soft and technical skills on your CTO resume to not seem overly technical or underqualified for the target position.