Three Things to Consider about your Board Resume

I recently surveyed a handful of board recruiters on what they look for from new potential board members; particularly those who don’t have any previous board experience.

The responses they gave were illuminating and changed my mind on some of the opinions and perspectives that I held when it came to putting myself forward as a board contender.

Here are a few things that I want to share with you – that are too good not to share – that can help you as you’re trying to join a board.

1. You don’t always need a cover letter

Much to my surprise, only 67% of board recruiters I surveyed wanted to receive a cover letter with your board resume. A little strange, but I say give the people what they want!

Not one to buck the trend though, I would prefer to send my board cv with a cover letter. It gives me a little more space to tell them about myself, the type of board I am looking to join, and the value I will bring to the organisation and board.

2. Your carefully-selected referees don’t always matter

Whether you put referees onto your board resume or insert the generic “referees available on request” message, the board recruiter will likely do their own investigation of you through their personal and/or professional network.

One board recruiter revealed:

… I research [the] individual’s work experience and seek references from trusted third parties…

This is why your reputation and personal brand matters so much. Don’t ever lose sight of that.

3. How you demonstrate your expertise matters more than your actual expertise

The number one skill that all board recruiters wanted to see you demonstrate is your ‘business acumen / awareness’, or, more specifically, your ‘business, strategic, and financial acumen’.

Essentially, board recruiters want you to demonstrate how your expertise and key achievements mattered in a business, strategic and/or financial context. What this means is, how does what you do everyday matter to the organisation on a strategic and/or financial level?

If you can answer that question, that’s what board recruiters are looking for. If not, I encourage you to speak to your manager or boss. They should be able to connect the dots for you.

Need further help on this point? Check out this TED talk.


Wow. A few left-field revelations there! This has changed how I will approach my board applications and I hope it does for you too.

What will you incorporate from the above considerations when applying for a board position?

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