6 Steps to Kick-Starting your Board Career
So, you’ve graduated from university, notched up a few years of experience in your chosen field, you’re on a nice career trajectory, and now you’re looking for that next step. That next opportunity to broaden your experience and skills, build your profile, and start using your expertise to give something back to the world.
You’re ready to join a board.
Unfortunately, landing a board position isn’t as easy as showing up at a business and asking for “one board seat please”. So to help you score that elusive directorship, we’ve put together a handy checklist to help you, dare we say, get on board.
1. Be great at your day job
More likely than not the reason you will be invited to join a board is because of your area of expertise. If you have worked your butt off and kicked some great goals since starting your career, you will have a better chance of being known and on their radar. Keep a personal record of your key achievements at work; they are useful for you to use as examples during interviews, can be added to your LinkedIn profile and CV, and gives you a record to look back as a reminder of all of the great work you have done.
2. Make it known that you are looking for a directorship
Note it on your LinkedIn profile. Mention it to your peers, boss, friends, and professional network. And, leading into our next point, mention it as part of your elevator speech at networking events.
You probably already network as part of your day job, so you should know what networking is all about and how to do it effectively. Take what you’ve learned there and apply it to yourself. Go to networking events that current board members are attending to find positions that may be open for people with your skill-set and expertise.
Also seek out events that are set up purely for organisations to find potential directors. These are especially useful for finding very worthy not-for-profit organisations where you can ‘cut your teeth’ as a director. Once you gain your directorship, your network then becomes an important source of skills and expertise that you may need to call upon, either for short-term assistance with a board issue, or for inviting onto a board if a position becomes available.
4. Put together a board CV
Your traditional resume that you used to get your day job is of no use to you when applying for a board position. You are now pitching yourself to a higher level within the organisation, and these people want to see different things than a traditional employer would. These include your leadership skills, industry expertise, strategic abilities, and high-level career responsibilities. Prepare your board CV with the help of our four-point plan.
5. Join board registers
There are a number of organisations that provide a centralised registry for people who are interested in finding board positions. Organisations then utilise these directories to find suitable potential board candidates. Find six (free!) registers for you to start with here.
6. Get educated
You take on a whole range of responsibilities and risks (many of which you don’t even realise!) when becoming a director of a company. Knowing what these are and how to perform effectively as a director is vital to you having a successful board career. Undertaking professional education and development – such as our Boardroom Bootcamp course – keeps you up to date on the ever-changing governance and business landscapes, builds your confidence, and makes you an asset to the board and organisation.
How are you preparing for your board career? Would you add any other preparations to this list? How did you land your first board position?