Tag: executive job search

3 Ways to Get Your First CIO or CTO Job

3 Ways to Get Your First CIO or CTO Job

Breaking into the CIO or CTO ranks is challenging. But people do it…the question most people have is “How?”CIO

To better understand how, it’s important to know why it is so difficult to land that first CIO or CTO position.

  1. There are a limited number of C-level opportunities (CIO, CTO, CxO)
  2. The number of candidates at the VP, Director, or Senior Manager level waiting to get their chance to head up the technology organization is at least an order of magnitude greater that the number of available roles
  3. Most larger companies expect to interview candidates who have already served as a CIO or CTO with another firm

OK, so that leaves out the possibility for jumping directly to a C-level role at a Fortune 500 company, but what about all those small and medium-sized businesses, start-ups, early-stage firms, and private companies? That certainly will be your target if you want to be successful. Now, let’s look at the 3 most common methods used to pursue one of these roles.

CIO Job Boards

There are hundreds of places to find CIO or CTO jobs posted online. These include Dice, LinkedIn, Career Builder, and Monster, as well as executive subscription sites like BlueSteps or Execunet. The paid sites offer the advantage of less competition, so there can be some value-add there. But C-level roles posted at free sites are highly competitive because of the sheer volume of people who respond…many of whom aren’t remotely qualified.

Recommendation: Join one premium site and use the public sites mostly for researching companies, their competitors, and the market in general.

Technology Recruiters

Recruiters are the be-all-end-all for senior executive roles, right? Not always. Only 4% of all positions are filled through recruiters (slightly higher for executives). Recruiters will typically not pursue candidates that aren’t already at the level for the role they are recruiting for. However, smaller companies will sometimes provide the recruiter with a desired candidate profile that includes people in the next tier down at a large corporation or working for a direct competitor.

Recommendation: Connect with recruiters, focusing on those that work with small and mid-sized companies. You can work with more than one recruiter at a time (and should). But don’t allow this to take up all of the time that you devote to the job search.

Executive Networking

You’ve heard it before…and I’ll say it again…networking is the most important thing that you can do to break into the ranks as a CIO or CTO, and it’s not even close. Industry research indicates that more than 70% of all executive positions are secured through networking. Here are the things that I hear most frequently when I tell candidates to network:

  • It’s too hard
  • It takes too much time
  • I can’t stand it
  • I’m introverted, so I’m not very good at it
  • I don’t have enough connections
  • I don’t have the right connections

Recommendation: Yes! Do it…but you’ve got to go about it the right way so that you don’t burn your network and ruin your opportunity to make a dormant network active for you.

Look, you don’t have to be a used car salesman type of person to make networking work for you. But there is a methodology that works, even for the most introverted person out there. If this is you, and you want help putting things into motion, schedule an appointment with me and we can get you on the path to success with networking.

But first, there’s one more thing that impacts your ability to land your first CIO or CTO role…


No matter how you come across opportunities — job boards, recruiters, or networking — the manner in which you present yourself is a huge factor in determining where things go from there. That presentation has everything to do with positioning or a host of other terms that are used to describe it today (messaging, branding, etc.). The resume and LinkedIn profile are key, as they are typically the initial presentation of your skills and experience that people see. But it goes well beyond that to creating a portfolio that differentiates you from the pack…taking your candidacy from good to great!

Take Action

  • To schedule a free consult call with me, click on the link for my online calendar.
  • Learn more about our comprehensive U.S. CIO Recruiter Directory with 850+ names, emails, phone #s, and address…all instantly downloadable for just $49. Click here.
  • Check out the video on this post on YouTube.


Stephen Van VreedeAbout Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!