Positioning for a Board Role Using Your Board Resume

In my last article, I shared how you can gain clarity on what boards are looking for – particularly the board(s) you are desirous to join, how to assess yourself against these criteria, and what to do with that information.

After your research, I encouraged you to ensure this information is included in your board resume (and any other personal brand environments: e.g. LinkedIn; your personal website). In particular, ensure you have demonstrable examples of that attribute in action; what is the proof that enables you to say “yes, I am someone who builds effective relationships”?

I wanted to follow up on that article and put this work into practice.

Let’s say you’ve found an advertisement for a board role that, from your work that I outlined in my previous article, you recognise aligns with your board goal(s) and your identified attributes.

What do you do now?

You want to demonstrate that you have the expertise they are seeking. Usually, this one is the easiest as it will closely align with what you’re doing for a job. You want some clear examples that demonstrate how and why you’re an expert in that area. These again will usually be associated with your professional day job.

Work through each of the attributes the board is seeking, providing examples of key achievements you have made using your expertise and what positive strategic, business, and/or financial outcomes of the organisation were recognised. If you don’t have this level of oversight in your role, you may need to ask your manager for assistance with connecting these dots for you.

What you don’t want to do is include a laundry list of tasks that your professional role is assigned or responsible for at your workplace. It won’t help you to include things like:

  • Managed a budget of $50,000.
  • Led a team of 12.
  • Led industry engagement.
  • Maintained website.
  • Developed partnerships with X, Y, Z companies.
  • Ensured our policies were updated.

These examples carry no substance and don’t say anything about whether you managed, led, developed, or ensured anything well, or what the positive outcomes were from your management and leadership.

Let’s say that a board wants a candidate who is a Clear communicator and experienced facilitator (an example of a common or universal board member attribute that most boards would want), I would encourage demonstrating that through elaborating on your experience, not just listing ‘facilitated workshops’ in your list of tasks associated with your professional role.

A better example to demonstrate this experience is:

I regularly deliver bespoke workshops and education to boards and directors (public, private, and NFP) across Australia, building their understanding of governance requirements, and how to be an effective and efficient board. I also regularly speak to members of various institutions about becoming a board member and successfully reporting to boards. 

As you can imagine, a board resume full of these types of paragraphs will become onerous to read. This is why you only want your highlight reel; one that aligns directly with what is being sought from board candidates. That way, you avoid blocks and blocks of irrelevant text, making it easier to read and digest.

The above paragraph is directly from my board resume, and my board resume is only two pages long. And it was included because it was in direct response to a board candidate information pack.

You may want to put together a ‘base’ board resume – an extended version of your board resume that includes everything that you’ve identified as desirable from your goal board(s). When it comes time to apply for a board opportunity, you use this version to create a resume that directly addresses the attributes desired from this board; ideally one that fits within two pages.

During this process, you will identify the best place to demonstrate specific attributes, either through your resume, your cover letter, or during the interview process. It’s also worth keeping in mind that more boards are seeking ‘soft skills’ as much as ‘hard expertise’, so ensure you don’t skip over the interpersonal attributes thinking they are unimportant.

This is how you can start to actively position yourself for the board role(s) you desire and create a compelling board resume.

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