Crafting a CTO resume that lands you job interviews is a challenging task for several reasons.
For starters, every company out there has their own understanding of what a CTO does.
No wonder the Internet is flooded with articles “What a chief technical officer’s job is ‘really’ about.”
On top of that every business has their own unique challenges that the chief technical officer is hired to address.
A CTO in a 9-person SaaS startup and a CTO in a two-hundred-people fintech enterprise are two completely different jobs.
But this is where your unique opportunity comes in: while everyone else is trying to create a one-size-fits-all CTO resume, you can address the pain points of a specific company, making your resume irresistible.
In this guide we’ll teach you how to create a CTO resume that lands you job interviews without looking forced and unnatural.
To make this guide more practical we’ll be sharing a case study around a specific real world example.
We’ll also provide tips and specific CTO resume samples that will help you stand out from other applicants while making every section of your resume engaging and concise.
Let’s dive in!
What will you learn in this CTO resume guide:
- How to craft a CTO resume that sets you apart from the very first section
- What is the most engaging and converting format for a CTO resume
- The difference between a good CTO resume and a great CTO resume
- How to strike a balance between your technical and leadership skills and land maximum amount of job interviews
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How to Write a Powerful CTO Resume
If you were to look at different CTO job descriptions at Indeed or Glassdoor, you’d quickly realize that every company looking for a CTO has their own set of requirements.
But crafting a job-winning CTO resume is not about copying job requirements into your resume and putting your own spin on it.
Behind a pile of requirements in every job description there’s always one global technological challenge that the company struggles with.
It is your goal to identify this challenge and use your resume to demonstrate that you are the perfect solution.
Use this framework:
- Analyse job requirements and company profile
- Identify the global technological pain within the company
- Think what kind of CTO the company would need to address the challenge
- Think of what kind of CTO would exceed company’s expectation
- Use the insights to craft irresistible resume
We went ahead and analysed hundreds of CTO job descriptions. Here are just some of the companies and their challenges we identified:
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 customer-centric environment where technology drives customer acquisition
You’ll notice that as soon as you identify a global technological challenge within a company, the rest of the resume easily falls in.
But you still have to make sure that every section of your CTO resume is engaging, concise, and appealing to recruiters.
Below we’ll share tips and examples on how you do that for every section.
We’ll build our case study around Company #3, but we’ll make sure that the advice can be easily applied to any other company and CTO position.
Let’s talk about what sections a captivating CTO resume should include.
CTO Resume Header Section: Don’t Leave The First Impression To a Chance
The header is the very first section on top of your resume, and naturally most recruiters will start analyzing your resume with it.
The section features your name, address, and contact details. Easy stuff.
The majority of candidates will provide these details and move to the next sections.
But there are two great opportunities within header that you can use to engage and impress recruiters:
- Customized headline
- Link to your professional profile (LinkedIn, Github)
The headline is a short and brief sentence that describes you, your work, or pretty much anything related to the position you’re applying for.
The main goal of your headline is to grab recruiter’s attention and demonstrate the relevance of your experience to their company.
For example, you won’t be using the headline “Driving innovation in agile startups since 2008” when applying for a tax department job (company #1).
In the same manner you won’t be using “Expert in managing and facilitating reliable network systems” when applying for a company #2 that is driven by innovation.
For our example, a national software and consultancy business (company #3), we’ll be using the following headline: “Expert leadership in customer-driven technological platforms”
Next question is: what profile will you be linking to, LinkedIn or Github?
If your target CTO role is highly-technical and you have to actively participate in the development of your product, prioritise linking to your Github profile.
If the role is strategic with C-level executive meetings, global technology leadership, and so on, feature your developed LinkedIn profile to hint at your soft and networking skills.
In our example we’ll link to both, as the CTO job we’re applying for involves both active participation in platform development and developed sales mindset.
We’ll put Linkedin first because the company #3 expects its CTO to leverage technology excellence to expand the customer database and actively build partnerships.
CTO Resume Experience Section: Looking Beyond The Job Requirements
Right after the Header section we start working on our Experience section.
We’ve already prepped recruiters with our strong and relevant headline, but they will spend extra time analysing if your experience is on par with your message.
How do you do that?
Don’t simply adjust job requirements to your CTO resume.
It will look bad. It will look bland. It will look needy.
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
Instead, look beyond requirements. We’ve already identified the main challenge of our target company: customer acquisition and strategic partnerships.
What’s in your previous experience that makes you uniquely equipped to excel at this goal?
After you analyze your strong qualities, amplify the effect with this framework:
Accomplished [this] as measured in [that] by doing [X]
It’s your goal now to create a narrative where you have all the experience to provide the solution.
A typical CTO role will include many responsibilities: from project management and IT leadership to development strategy and staff training.
Put first the ones you think we’ll be the most impactful for your target job.
CTO Skill Section: A Two-Step Process To Get Ahead Of Your Competition
The way you format your skills section will highly depend on the position you’re applying for.
Some companies will want you to turn up your sleeves and actively contribute to building MVP or scale existing API infrastructure.
Others will need 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 competing over who has more tech skills is meaningless - every candidate will have a great section.
But soft skills are another thing” it’s hard to come by a candidate with both excellent technical background and developed soft skills.
But simply listing soft skills no your resume won’t make recruiters believe that you have them.
Here are two tips to make you soft skills section stand out and engage recruiters:
- Present soft skills in a real-world context
- Alter the name of your soft skills section
Presenting soft skills in a real world context allows you to kill two birds with one stone: demonstrate your soft skills and emphasize your achievements once again.
Once again, we analyze the job description and see that part of the job is to present a platform to partners and clients through events and conferences.
We’re using our past experience and show our presentation skills in an engaging context:
“2020 Guest Speaker at Global 2020 Innovative Tech In Customer Management Workflows Team-building something”
If we were applying for a tech startup, we could demonstrate our problem solving skills in the context of developing MVP or agile team management.
Second tip to make your soft skills section stand out is to frame it in a fresh original way.
For that we’ll be adding the “Achievements” section to our CTO template, and add our soft skills examples there.
Here are some of the most demanded soft skills to feature on your chief technical officer resume:
As for the technical skills, the most important thing is to keep this section balanced.
Here are few tips that will help you make your CTO technical skills section punchy and powerful:
- Don’t list too all the skills you have -- you’ll seem like a system administrator and not CTO
- Don’t feature basic skills like “Ms Office” and “Windows”, it will make you seem entry-level
- Find ways to group skills together, e.g. MVP development, BI management, CRM administration
- Pass ATS filters: use keywords from resume descriptions to pass automatic resume filters
For some CTO positions you will need to manage the development team, so being familiar with the company's tech stack will be a major plus.
Here are some of the technical skills to put on your CTO resume:
Education & Certification Sections in Chief Technical Officer Resume
The majority of CTO positions will require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, or closely related field.
But here’s what you need to know: ideally the recruiter should make their mind to interview you before they even get to the Education section.
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.
Examples are: security and network certifications (CISSP), IT management (CGEIT, CAPM), Sif Sigma, COBIT, etc.
Summary: A Strategic Approach To Land Interviews With Your CTO Resume
- Identify global challenges within a company, understand how technology can address them, and build your resume accordingly
- Grab recruiters’ attention with 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 by using keywords and buzzwords form 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.