How To Go About Getting That Next CIO Job

Things have changed and perhaps for the better
Things have changed and perhaps for the better Image Credit: Temping Agency London

I’m pretty sure that we are all experienced at getting another job. Very few people rise up in a single company and become CIO. However, perhaps it has been a while since you last went through the process of finding another job. If the itch to move on has once again struck you, then you are going to have to realize that things have changed. The pandemic and time have all contributed to making some significant changes in how companies are going about recruiting people to fill CIO positions at their company.

Recruiting Has Changed

The good news for CIOs is that companies are once again recruiting new leaders. This time they’re reimagining the way they do it. The pandemic transformed the process of recruiting CIOs. For one thing, the process is getting faster, as virtual interviews have cut the time it takes to interview and hire to roughly four to eight weeks, rather than being drawn out over months of time-heavy trips. CIOs need to understand that the changes go well beyond speed. Some recruiters say the virtual process also has broadened the applicant pool, given more people inside the company a chance to speak with CIO applicants and generally broken down the formality in interviews.

Companies also are starting to give priority to different values in their new CIO leaders, recruiters say. The pandemic created lots of disruption, from technology to corporate culture and a greater focus on diversity. As companies seek CIOs who can navigate this environment, some are looking for new qualities, such as the ability to speak to a broad audience of stakeholders. There’s a very public voice that a CIO carries now. There is increased demand for their voice to be heard across many constituencies, including employees but also customers. We need to understand that it’s too early to say just how long these changes will last, but many of them seem to be here to stay.

Turnover Among CIOs

CIO turnover had been surging in the years before Covid-19 – but the pandemic put a halt to the trend, of course. It made sense: during the early days of Covid-19, many companies wanted to maintain stability in their top ranks as they worked through pandemic-related uncertainties. CIO turnovers, as a result, dropped 61% in the U.S. in the second half of 2020 from a near-record level in the year-earlier period. Global CIO turnover plunged from quarter-to-quarter, indicating pent-up demand for change as the pandemic eased. The unofficial freeze has been lifting. CIO turnovers next year could rise as much as 30%.

Why are these changes happening? The changes are driven by a number of factors: some CIOs are underperforming; their leadership team is ready to activate a succession plan after putting retirement on hold during the pandemic; and other CIOs’ skill sets increasingly don’t match the company’s newer priorities. What has been discovered is that there’s a category of people who didn’t lead well through this crisis, and boards are going to step up and say, “It’s time for a change”.

CIOs Are Bing Hired Faster

Welcome to the 21st Century! Virtual interviews are speeding up the entire CIO interview process, since initial rounds and sometimes even the full process are often happening by video call instead of in person. Before the pandemic, it could easily take several weeks to set up in-person interviews of a CIO candidate with different board members, due to different travel schedules. Now, CIO candidates are able to more quickly speak with relevant individuals on the front end of the interview and sometimes may have access to even more people. People are able to find an hour or two to have a meeting or a call with a CIO candidate. By the final round with CIOs, though, many companies prefer to meet candidates in person. The idea is that this is such a critical decision, it probably shouldn’t be done virtually.

CIO Interview Questions Have Changed

There have been a number of factors including Covid-19, a partially remote workforce and a wider call for so-called stakeholder capitalism that have expanded the role of the CIO to a leader focused on more than just running a profitable part of the business. Now many are expected the CIO to take a stand on political or social issues. And recruiters say they’re looking at a newer set of issues for CIOs – such as candidates’ empathy, their ability to communicate with a range of stakeholders and a focus on workforce well-being – that weren’t critical a few years ago. With the issues caused by the pandemic, it’s even more important to be able to communicate the company’s vision, the company’s values, to the public. The idea is being thoughtful and understanding of others and others’ viewpoints and feelings has become important because to maintain a workforce in this environment you have to have sensitivity to others.

That means recruiters are asking different questions when they interview CIO candidates. The newer questions may be, “How do you bring a divergent group of people back together?” or “Did your IT employees come back to the office?” Current and future CIOs need to have a commitment to understanding that the corporate system needs to be changed, since minority-group members and others haven’t fully been included in the past and need to be treated fairly going forward. If a CIO doesn’t have a basic understanding of that, at least in big companies, they’re probably not going to be on the list anymore. CIO candidates have to have a point of view on diversity and inclusion, not necessarily a quick fix, but an understanding of how it is part of the company’s strategy.

What All Of This Means For You

Just like everyone else, CIOs switch jobs. When it becomes time for you to start looking for your next job, you are going to have to do it correctly. It turns out that the world has probably changed since you went searching for your last CIO job. What this means is that the way that you are going to land your next CIO job will be different. Do you know what you need to do?

The good news for CIOs is that companies are once again looking to hire for this position. The job interviews are much faster these days and you potentially will have a chance to talk with more people. The turnover in the CIO position which slowed during the pandemic, has once again picked up pace. Some of this is due to firms deciding that they need to have a new person in the CIO position. Most interviewing is being done virtually. This can allow you to meet more people. However, generally speaking the last round of interviews is always done in person. CIO candidates are being asked different questions. Companies want to know about their empathy and ability to communicate.

If you are looking for a new CIO jobs, then good news – companies are hiring! If you decide to go hunting for a new job, you need to realize that things may have changed since you last interviewed for a CIO job. What this means is that things have become more fast paced and you may be asked a different series of questions. Keeping all of this in mind, you can be successful when you go looking for your next CIO job. You just have to be aware of what your next company is really looking for in their CIO.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How can you show that you have empathy during your next CIO job interview?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time