Interview with @CIO_Coach, Kim Batson

I recently reached out to Kim Batson (@CIO_Coach) via Twitter and she generously agreed to be interviewed for the CDM Media Blog. Kim is a Career Management Coach and Executive Brand Strategist for technology executives. Her Twitter page is full of advice on everything from personal branding to interviewing, and her blog expands upon her tweets. 

So, without further ado… 

How has the job market changed for CIOs since the recession?

After a period of lower demand in terms of companies creating or back-filling CIO positions, we are beginning to see more opportunities on the market, especially in higher growth industries such as healthcare, biotech, energy, environmental, technology, and the government. Some companies in other industries have reassessed or redefined the CIO role, restructured, outsourced, drastically scaled back, shut down operations, or have been bought out by other companies or equity firms. All of which can affect the number of CIO opportunities available.

In more stable corporate environments and in those companies with the cash flow to ride out this recession, many CIOs have opted to stay where they are rather than vacate their position for another at this tumultuous time, so the number of openings due to this kind of churn has been affected. However, some of these executives are preparing now for possible future moves when the economy turns around.

 CEOs have been demanding more during these tough times, such as quicker project delivery and ROI, lowered costs, and innovations that generate revenues and/or enable company growth, and some CIOs have lost their jobs when they haven’t produced the results, creating openings in their wake.

 It is important to note, though, that some CIO job loss has occurred due to recessionary circumstances and not lack of achievement, putting some excellent talent on the market. 

 The number of applicants per position has been much higher and, according to executive recruiters, the openings have been filled at a much faster rate due to the pool of talent available.

 With competition fiercer than ever, executives need a strong personal brand, an exceptional value proposition, stellar career documents, and a solid self-marketing strategy to stand out from the crowd and out compete in this marketplace.

How does building a personal brand help CIOs stay competitive?

A personal brand enables a CIO to articulate his or her unique value to the organization. Being able to do this concisely and effectively is crucial for today’s executive careers. In addition, a personal brand enables a CIO to be top-of-mind to companies, hiring executives and recruiters so that they are ‘first’ to be thought of when a new opportunity arises.

 How can executives start to build a personal brand?

 Several years ago I created a structure and a process, which I have continued to refine, for technology executives to build their own personal brand. Some of the areas an executive should consider are: their innate strengths, skills, style, values, areas of specialization and expertise, vision, passion, motivations, external perceptions, achievements, themes and patterns, and, of course, their target audience. These are all filtered together and then brainstorming begins to produce a concise and powerful executive brand.

 When applying for a new position, what is a common mistake that executives make on their resumes and how can they fix it?

 The most common mistake is to substitute responsibilities for achievements. The second most common mistake is not quantifying achievements to show business impact.

To correct these mistakes, an executive should look the challenges they’ve faced, the action they took, and the result(s) of those actions. They should ask the “So what?” question. “So, I did this? So what?” “What did it do for the company, organization, management, staff, peers, customers, shareholders, the industry, others?” “What did it do for the business?”

Then, once the result is established, quantify it with metrics to show business impact. In other words, if an action taken significantly raised customer satisfaction, ask “by how much?” Tie each result to a metric as proof of performance and a stronger business statement.

 How can CIOs show their current employers that they are a valuable asset to the company?

 CIOs should continually speak the language of the business and tie everything they do to business drivers. In addition, they should show high adaptability and flexibility in such fast-changing times.

 If you could give CIOs one piece of advice, what would it be?

Communicate and collaborate across the lines of business. To use a phrase my colleague Deb Dib, The CEO Coach, coined several years ago: you want to be visible, viable and valuable.

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