Writing your board resume can be an overwhelming process. It’s something that, when you’re beginning your board career, you’ve never done before. This is because a board CV is different to a professional career, and also because some people find it hard to write well and in a positive, self-promotional way.
There are a handful of common missteps that I see people make when preparing their board resume. I am covering these in today’s post and identifying five ways that you can craft an impactful board resume.
1. Be You
Where appropriate, I encourage you to inject a little bit of your personality into your board resume. This helps the people recruiting for the board to ‘see’ a bit more of you beyond the one-dimensional CV information.
It also helps the reader of your resume to stay engaged – reading something unexpected will pique their interest to continue reading.
This is a passage from my board resume that speaks to my interests and passions:
I am an advocate for modern governance methods and blog regularly on various board-related topics. I have been featured in various publications, including the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Company Director magazine.
It’s not outrageous. But it’s about as wild as I’m going to get in my board resume.
A great thing to keep in mind is to align your resume to your personal brand. Make sure everything you do and say in person and in writing represents you in a way you want it to and communicates an intentional, consistent story about you.
One caveat with this rule is to not share information in your CV that is irrelevant and could cause you detriment with your application. This includes: Gender, Marital Status, Date of Birth, Hobbies, Interests (unless specifically relevant), Health Status, A photo/headshot, and Fancy fonts/colours. Unfortunately we all judge people based on all sorts of factors, so the more you can do to ensure you are judged based on your best aspects, the better.
2. Be Confident about you and your achievements
I see a lot of board resumes in my work on boards and in helping people prepare their board CVs. The one thing that disappoints and concerns me the most is people not being confident in their successes. Or, even worse, thinking that their successes are ‘not good enough’.
I see this translated through strange sentence formats such as ‘A highly motivated digital expert.’ Not only does this sentence look incomplete, it is devoid of any personal ownership of your unique attributes and professional achievements. A better version is a simple upgrade: “I am a highly motivated digital expert.”
This is something that both men and women do. Whilst it may feel uncomfortable at first, it gets easier over time the more you do. Own your awesomeness that you’ve worked so hard on!
3. Focus on Your Achievements as they Relate to Strategic, Business, and Financial Outcomes
This demonstrates that you (a) understand these concepts, and (b) understand how to work towards achieving them. This is vital knowledge for board members.
I recommend every aspiring leader and board member watch this TED talk for an explanation on what I mean here and how it can help your professional and board career.
4. Make your CV Easy to Read
Too much information. Too little information. Too long. Too short. Weird colours. Weird fonts. A layout that creates confusion and it’s unclear on where to start reading.
I’ve seen it all.
Keep the information you share in your board resume relevant, concise and clear. Make use of headings and sub-headings, and dot-points to layout your information in a way that makes it an easy and pleasant read.
5. Ask for Help
At a minimum, ask a trusted advisor, current board member you know, colleague or friend to proofread your board CV. Ask them to check for layout, spelling and grammar, as well as content and clarity of message will enhance the chances of an impactful board resume. If you can, share the board vacancy advertisement with them as well so they have additional context to assess your resume against.
You can also ask for help in starting and creating your entire board resume if you’re not feeling ready to go it alone. There are many providers who offer this service, including me. Find someone you resonate with and whom you feel confident and comfortable with. A preliminary conversation is usually a great place to find out if you want to engage that person to help you on your board journey.
Crafting an impactful board resume takes focus and intention. It may also take a little comfort-zone extending. Be assured that however you choose to build your board CV – alone or with help – an impactful resume is within your reach.
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