Main image of article Job-Hunting Advice from CIOs

Who could be more qualified to offer job-hunting advice than current CIOs? Technology’s top execs not only oversee talent acquisition; because they’ve experienced the hiring process from both sides of the desk, they’re bound to know the most effective ways to land a new job today. (There's a reason why they're so good at mentorship to young technologists.) Here are a few tips from CIOs for people just entering the tech industry, no matter what their role or educational background.

Advice from Brian Miller, CIO and Interim Dean for Online Education at Davenport University

Internships Trump Coursework: “Listing college coursework on a resume provides marginal value to a prospective employer. Internships are more important and they pay the biggest dividends. If you didn’t have an opportunity to participate in internships during college, completing one or two before you enter the job market will not only enhance your skills but improve your marketability.”

Showcase Your Customer Orientation: “Tech skills are important, but soft skills and a strong customer orientation are differentiators. Tooling your resume to demonstrate your desire and ability to serve others can set you apart from other new grads. Describing outside interests and hobbies is another great way to give managers a glimpse into your motivation, personality and interpersonal skills.”

Be Ready to Talk Business, Not Tech: “Research the company before an interview to gain an understanding of its culture and drivers. Then be prepared to talk about the ways that software or technology can have a positive impact on business and customers.”

Demonstrate Passion and Commitment: “We love it when new grads commit code to open source projects, which is accepted by the community. Listing side projects on your resume can give you a leg up because it demonstrates passion and a commitment to continuous learning.”

Advice from Kevin More, CIO of the May Institute and Board Chair of the Boston Society for Information Management (SIM)

Develop a Professional Network: “Developing your professional network is the first step for new grads and the key to a successful search. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of the new hires at our organization come from referrals. Join technology user groups, business groups and community-based organizations to build your connections inside and outside of IT and continue to grow your network once you accept a position.”

Find a Mentor: “If you really want to know what tech managers are looking for and how to stand out, developing a mentoring relationship with one or two managers is the best way to get the inside scoop. Many tech managers are willing to give back by providing advice and coaching to new grads. All you have to do is ask.”

Making Branding a Priority: “Creating a strong personal brand and online presence is the best way to showcase your career interests and technical capabilities. Start blogging right after graduation and provide samples of your work to gain a following and capture the attention of employers.”

Advice from Bruce Maas, Vice Provost for Information Technology and CIO at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Be Assertive and Authentic: “Don’t wait to be asked! Companies want you to be assertive about pursuing career opportunities and internships that give you a chance to learn and grow. However, remember to balance assertiveness with self-awareness by conducting a self-assessment so you present a realistic portrait of your skills to employers.”

Leverage Internships: “Companies often use internships to evaluate potential new hires so they’re a great way to get your career started. Being on the inside of a company also provides students and new grads with a no-risk, no-pressure opportunity to demonstrate adaptability and organizational fit.”

Rise Above Self-Limiting Beliefs: “Don’t underestimate your abilities or limit the opportunities you pursue, especially if you’re a female entering the tech workplace. Avoid self-criticism and be kind to yourself, because no one expects you to be perfect.”