Preparing a traditional cv or resume is something that we are all pretty familiar with. However, whether you are a new or aspiring company director, when it comes time for you to prepare a resume for a board position, there are some particular things that you should cover and focus on, and it can make the process a little confusing and overwhelming.
To help you on your process, there are some simple rules of thumb to follow, and elements to include, when writing your director resume.
1. Tailor it to the organisation
Do your research on the organisation and industry for which you are applying to join, and customise your cv to meet their unique needs and environment. Particularly if you are being approached by, or approaching, a board based on your specific skill-set. Use the insights from your research to demonstrate your relevant leadership skills, knowledge, skills, and networks in a context that makes sense and is relevant to the directors receiving your cv.
2. Keep it concise
You need to strike a fine balance between showcasing enough information without making it so long that reading it looks like hard work. Best practice is to keep your board cv to approximately 2-3 pages in length.
3. Proof read
In addition to you re-reading, spell checking, and proof reading again, ask a trusted person – preferably someone who sits on a board – to check over your cv. Ask them to provide feedback on content, as well as any errors they may pick up.
4. Follow this blueprint when preparing your director cv
Board Profile / Introduction
In this section, include approximately three sentences that describe you as a director candidate. Cover who you are and what you can bring to the board with a focus on your leadership and strategic abilities, collaboration skills, and industry expertise. If you have never previously sat on a board, include examples of how you have identified goals, unified a team, overcome obstacles, and achieved business, strategic, and/or financial success in a workplace or other organisation/group setting.
Current / Past Board Positions and Contributions
If you already sit on a board, include a brief overview of your current directorships. Note any specific responsibilities / roles that you hold (e.g. Treasurer, Committee Chair, etc.) and the key contributions you have made to the board and organisation. If you are an aspiring director, include any groups or committees that you are a part of that don’t fall within the traditional ‘board’ definition (for example, state-based institute or society committees, workplace committees, or other similar groups).
Cover up to the past 10 years of your career with a focus on high-level descriptions of your progressive responsibilities, control, oversight, leadership, and board reporting requirements. List your key achievements as they relate to the business, strategic, and financial outcomes of the organisation. Make reference to any specific and relevant expertise that you have developed over your career.
Susan Colantuono provides great advice in her book, No Ceiling, No Walls, in relation to your resume:
A resume is a place where it is important (even essential) to focus on measurable outcomes, in other words, the way you have driven the organisation forward [or contributed to the organisation’s business, strategic and/or financial outcomes]. Don’t just list the activities you’ve done or the inputs you’ve managed.
I like to call it ‘answering the “so what” question’.
A few examples to demonstrate this:
Instead of: Team lead for the XYZ project.
Consider: Implemented the XYZ system delivering on the projected $X in savings.
Instead of: Answered customer questions.
Consider: Contributed to customer retention rate of 98% by providing authoritative and complete answers to questions.
Instead of: Managed $150,000 business unit.
Consider: My $150,000 business unit grew revenue by 27% year-over-year, with a profit growth of >15% annually, and increased market share from 15% to 35%.
Education and Qualifications
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to hold a qualification or certification to be a company director. Therefore, use this section to note significant and relevant education that you have completed and any qualifications received. Remember to keep it relevant.
If you hold any relevant memberships, include them. If not, keep this section out. Examples include Australian Marketing Institute, Chartered Accountants, Australian Human Resources Institute, CPA, etc..
Recognition and/or Awards
Note down any relevant acknowledgements, awards, and/or honours you have received.
Be sure to include any specific information that the board / nominations committee has requested. Check the position advertisement and/or recruitment pack to know what to include in your resume.
Following these rules of thumb and using the director cv blueprint will make preparing your board resume a little less overwhelming so that you can focus on being excited about your potential future board seat.
What board position are you applying for?