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The CIO resume vs. The CTO resume

Don't confuse the position of CIO with CTO when you're applying for one of those jobs. Resume expert Jennifer Hay talks about the difference.

I admit it! I regularly peruse web sites for resume samples because I'm just nosy about how other people write IT resumes. I prefer to be delighted and amazed but it's not always the case. My first impression when I read the summary below was that it was well-written to blend an executive's technical strengths with his business management skills, a great combination since many organizations want the IT department to be run like a business. At second glance, however, I noticed a major snafu, the summary was written for a CTO and not for a CIO as I had assumed from reading the paragraph below:

Many people seem to be confused about the role and responsibility of a CIO versus a CTO so here's the difference in a nutshell: A CIO is focused internally on technology needed to run a company. A CTO is focused externally on technology that is embedded in products and/or is visible to customers. The CIO and the CTO should work collaboratively to create an enterprise architecture that can support both internal processes and external product development for commercial use.

CIO's resume focus

The CIO is responsible for information strategy, culture, and compliance. Information strategy describes the roles and uses of information in shaping the future of the business and in setting and achieving business goals. Information culture is the degree to which information is integrated into the fabric of the business -- use by executives to understand competitive and economic environments and to define and execute strategy; use by managers to inform decision processes and to manage performance; use by staff to drive effective and efficient day-to-day operations.

The information-to-compliance connection has two aspects: (1) ensuring compliance with data/information regulations including privacy, security, transparency, records retention, etc. (2) using information to monitor regulatory compliance, signal early warning of non-compliance risks, and provide the audit trail to assure compliance and to investigate violations.

CTO's resume focus

The CTO is responsible for technology strategy which includes information, communications, operations, and competitive technologies. One of the primary responsibilities of a CTO is to be continuously aware of science and technology trends and futures. The rate at which technology changes in all areas - information, biotech, energy, environmental, and more - creates an ongoing challenge to be aware of technological developments and make good choices about which technologies to engage. The right choices make the difference between becoming a leader in your industry, playing catch up, or completely losing market position.

Furthermore, the right choices are not only about which technologies to engage, but how to engage with them - through acquisition, R&D, or technology partners. The way that a company engages with technology today has profound influence on the future of that company financially, competitively, and socially.

Summary

Although people and organizations may blur the lines between a CIO and a CTO, they are two distinct roles with very different responsibilities. When working with a resume writer make sure they understand this distinction - the CIO focuses primarily on the technology that a company uses and CTO focuses more on the technology that a company sells.  You may elect to position yourself for a combined CIO/CTO position but that should be your choice and not as a result of a misunderstanding.

Jennifer Hay is a highly credentialed resume and LinkedIn writer for IT professionals and executives. She is the 2011 Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) winner in the technical category. As the world's first nationwide resume writer for information technology (CRS+IT), she a natural choice for professionals seeking high-impact career marketing documents.  Additionally, Jennifer's technology product - TweetsResume - won a 2012 Career Innovation Award from Career Director's International.

9 comments
Alexandrea_AnywherePad
Alexandrea_AnywherePad

Great article! I find it quite insightful, especially for a topic that confuses many people. But where does the CDO (chief digital officer) fit in all this?

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

I absolutely agree that the roles will differ depending on the vertical. They will also change as Cloud continues to grow and IT changes its focus to services procurement and service management.

tloftus
tloftus

Jennifer, Thanks for this interesting writing. I think you might be missing a critical point. The roles of CTO or CIO will be very different in different verticals. For instance; The CTO role in a pharmaceutical company will be very different from the CTO role in a technology company (i.e.; that sells technology). I would say the same about any "technology user" company vs. a 'technology maker" company. Although similar, their priorities and focus will be different resulting in differing resumes. I believe it possible, but a shift from the "user" space into the "maker/seller" space will require considerable adaptation.

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

Glen, Currently, its difficult to draw a clear and crisp distinction between the responsibilities between software and hardware, and between technology used internally within an organization or externally. For example, I see appliances and the cloud as a blending of software and hardware so you wouldnt be able to draw a clean line. Perhaps, its better to say that the CIO and CTO job roles are a collaborative effort across the organization. When I mentioned advanced analytics, I wasn't referring to BI which is oriented toward querying, reporting, OLAP, and alerts. I was referring more to discovery automation, text analytics, or big data. I didn't know that the term advanced analytics had been used to describe computer hardware but thanks for the history lesson. Jennifer

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

I have to agree with Yangtze and disagree with you, Jennifer. With one major caveat -- companies are notorious for creating their own definition for standardized job titles. CIOs are focused on information and treat the hardware as an enabler. CTOs are focused on the hardware. So yes, as a CIO, I would expect to not have to worry about the advanced analytics (hardware) environment if there was also a CTO. All I worry about is the advanced analytics software being used and how the data is used to enhance the business value. Both are focused on strategy and therefore both are externally focused. It's that old dichotomy of Systems Development (aka Applications and Processes) vs Operations carried over to the C-suite. (I admit that I am presuming a definition of advanced analytics being the business intelligence version. If by advanced analytics you meant computer hardware -- sorry, no one has used that term in some forty years outside of the super-computer lab.) To quote from Investopedia: Definition of 'Chief Information Officer - CIO' A company executive who is responsible for the management, implementation and usability of information and computer technologies. The CIO will analyze how these technologies can benefit the company or improve an existing business process and will then integrate a system to realize that benefit or improvement. Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cio.asp#ixzz2KufIxTvk Definition of 'Chief Technology Officer - CTO' An executive who is responsible for the management of an organization's research and development (R&D) and technological needs. A chief technology officer (CTO) examines the short- and long-term needs of an organization, and utilizes capital to make investments designed to help the organization reach its objectives. The CTO usually reports directly the chief executive officer (CEO) of the firm. Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/chief-technology-officer.asp#ixzz2Kuf8pWXC And yes, I have been a CIO. Glen Ford

hug.login
hug.login

you shouldn't apply for the job if you cannot tell the difference! However, some companies might not even know themselves what they are actually looking for.

Yangtze
Yangtze

I see how you segregate the two jobs. However, I think you're missing something. I see the segregation more at the what. CIOs should focus on any information that the organization creates or uses or will need. It is the CIO's role to ensure the organization has the information it needs. And your definition fits here. However, I see CTOs being responsible for any technology used by the organization regardless of who uses it or sees it. In the case of a manufacturing company, technology can be turned internally or externally. The CTO in this situation would be responsible for identifying tech that aids in the production of the company's products. This type of tech would never (IMHO) affect or come under the control of a CIO. The CIO is more about the data than the tech in use.

igLew
igLew

Sorry I agree with Jennifer and disagree with Yangtze and yourself. In my experience, CIOs need to be focused on a lot more than information, including technology, especially as it supports the business. Technology is also a lot more than just 'hardware'. Hardware is just one layer of the technology stack. That said, it is really is horses for courses. - Lew

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

The CTO is responsible for the technology strategy for the organization to ensure standardization and best use of resources. CIOs, however, would be surprised to learn that they are not responsible for the technology used in information delivery. For example as a CIO, I would not want the CTO governing my advanced analytics environment. The CTO may use this environment when products are being developed to understand customer buying behaviors, but it would still be my space