Resume makeover: Transforming a career post-mortem into a C-suite future

One trap IT leaders often fall into when seeking a new job is viewing their resume as a historical document of their career. The reality is that your resume should paint a clear picture of your career’s future, detailing your past work experience as a roadmap that leads inevitably to your next leadership gig.

But striking that balance between detailing the past and mapping toward the future can be challenging, especially while keeping your resume to-the-point. A few key strategies, however, can help you tell your career story through your resume without getting bogged down in the past.

With more than 20 years of experience in data and analytics, Gloria Edsall, whose identity has been changed for this article, is an aspiring CDO looking to break into a C-suite role. We paired Edsall up with Stephen Van Vreede, president, executive resume writer, and coach for, to help her strengthen her resume to convey how her career path qualifies her for a CDO role. 

“Our meetings focused on discussing how the company and its customers derived value from the actions of the candidate and their team. We spent a good deal of time talking about [her] goals and interests so that the new resume could be tailored to the future and not simply a post-mortem on her career,” says Van Vreede.

Following is a report on that process and some tips outlining how Van Vreede’s work with Edsall can help you better shape your resume as a leadership journey toward new opportunities.

Highlight your leadership skills from the top

Van Vreede worked with Edsall to create a cohesive theme for her resume based on her career goals and interests. The first two to three pages of Edsall’s original resume focused on credentials such as education, certification, training, and publications, which were a “big distraction,” according to Van Vreede.

“For someone looking to pursue leadership roles that focus on turning data science and analytics organizations into a value driver for the business, there was almost no content that spoke to the candidate’s track record providing tangible business value,” he says.

> Download: Gloria Edsall’s original resume

To remedy this, Van Vreede included an executive summary at the start of the resume to clearly outline how Edsall’s experience and knowledge help her excel in leadership roles, detailing what type of leader Edsall is and how her experience with management and data analytics makes her an ideal candidate for a CDO role.

Van Vreede also pulled up three top career highlights for Edsall, including generating $25M in value by creating a predictive analytics engine, bringing in $25M in new contracts and $14M in business value through advanced and predictive analytics practices, and driving $5M in value by maturing data science practices. These main accomplishments show Edsall’s ability to benefit an organization’s bottom line through her analytics experience, while also leading successful and resilient teams in the process.

Keep it brief and strategic

One glaring issue with Edsall’s original resume is that it was far too long and, according to Van Vreede, was “more appropriately used as an academic CV instead of a personal marketing document for corporate roles,” at seven pages long. This is one of the most common resume mistakes tech professionals make, especially as your career history grows longer, it can be difficult to know what to keep and what to leave off your resume.

As a general rule, a professional resume should be a concise 1-2 pages when applying for corporate roles. Recruiters read through thousands of resumes, so they’re more likely to lose focus or abandon your resume altogether if they can’t get a sense of your qualifications within the first few minutes.

Edsall knew her resume was too long, and wasn’t happy with the formatting around her skills summary, job achievements, and past work experience. She didn’t know the best way to consolidate experience from more than a decade ago, or how to highlight her achievements and connect those to the value she’d bring to a CDO role.

In addition to being too lengthy, the original resume was also “highly technical and tactical in nature,” according to Van Vreede. This is a common issue that technologists run into when writing a resume: They include technical verbiage that might alienate recruiters or hiring managers who aren’t as familiar with the technical side of the role.

Van Vreede addressed this by consolidating her professional experience and creating a side bar along the right side of both pages to showcase Edsall’s education, credentials, and key skills. Including this type of sidebar enabled Van Vreede to bring Edsall’s chronological work history to the forefront, without having to bury her education and credentials at the bottom of the resume.

Including executive summaries and a side bar with your education, skills, and credentials is a great way to remove redundancies from your work experience, allowing you to focus on specific accomplishments at each role, while consolidating your evergreen skills, expertise, and knowledge into short and simple lists. It also gives recruiters and hiring managers an easy way to ensure you have the necessary skills and qualifications with just a quick glance. Ultimately, you want to grab a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s attention from the jump, encouraging them to delve further into your overall experience.

The final results

In the end, Van Vreede helped take Edsall’s resume from “technical and tactical” to “strategic and achievements based.” Most importantly, he focused on highlighting achievements that illustrated how Edsall has built or transformed data science and analytics units at each company and driven profits and business value through her efforts. These achievements help tell the story of her career and how those experiences will make her a strong candidate for a CDO role.

> Download: Gloria Edsall’s final resume

Edsall says she was most surprised by how Van Vreede was able to take the original resume down from seven pages to just two, and notes that the process helped her “learn what leaders look for when recruiting leaders.” She is happy with the final resume, which better highlights her qualifications for a C-suite role.

Van Vreede, too, sees Edsall’s experience and skills now standing out with a resume that is “aesthetically pleasing and packed with great content, but all wrapped up in just two pages,” he says. Overall, the final document will help Edsall demonstrate the value-add she brings to the table when interviewing with potential employers.

Careers, IT Leadership, Resumes