What to put in (and keep out) of your Board Resume
The first thing that aspiring board members consider when starting their board journey is their board resume. Whilst not the only tool needed when embarking on your board journey, it is an important tool heavily relied on by boards during their recruitment process. Often, it is the only entrée to you that a board or board recruiter may have, so it is important to craft a concise and compelling board resume that helps you to achieve your board goals.
There are many articles, self-directed courses, in-person workshops, and one-to-one resume preparation support to help you end up with a compelling board resume suited to your board goals. I encourage you to check those resources out if you’re at the very beginning of crafting a board resume.
The purpose of this article is to discuss the important elements of a board resume to have and those which may be better suited not being in your board resume (those things that may hinder rather than help you to achieve your board ambitions).
WHAT TO KEEP IN
Information that Aligns with Your Board Goal(s).
Once you have an idea what type of board/organisation you want to join, do some research to understand what they look may be looking for from their board members. This will tell you what you need to communicate and demonstrate through your resume and will make you an attractive candidate for that board. Aim to understand the attributes that you will need to focus on and highlight through your resume.
Data and Information that Reinforces Your Unique Value Proposition.
Your board resume should reflect and sell you based on your unique value proposition (“UVP”). Your UVP is your personal blend of skills, expertise, abilities, personality, and network as it appears to the board(s) you are positioning yourself for. Understanding your UVP – and the data and information that reinforces your UVP – will help you to present yourself in a compelling and meaningful way to your desired boards. It will help a board to answer the question “Why should we select you over the next board candidate?”
Doing your research into the organisation and industry for which you are applying to join will enable you to customise your board resume to address their unique needs, environment, culture, and language. Using the insights from your research to demonstrate your leadership skills, knowledge, and networks in a context that makes sense and is relevant to the directors or recruiters receiving your CV will set you apart from other candidates. And it shows! Boards can tell when they’re receiving a generic board resume versus one that has been crafted to address the unique and specific context of this board, in this organisation, in this industry, at this point in time. It’s an investment with a large ROI.
Use language that resonates with the board/organisation you are applying for: adapt your CV to include words that are used in the advertisement / position description and that you find on the organisation’s website. Speak their language and they will better understand you and what you can bring to the board.
Information You Are Asked to Include or Address.
Make sure you include any specific requested information from the role/position advertisement (if there is one). This is such a base-level requirement that if you don’t address it the recipient will wonder why you even bothered.
WHAT TO KEEP OUT
It’s worth providing a caveat to this section. Of course, this information is generalised and needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. This list is not exhaustive and not applicable in all circumstances. You need to exercise your professional judgement when preparing your board resume, including when considering what NOT to include. Remember to always defer back to the advertisement or candidate information pack as to what you need to include with your application.
- Irrelevant information. This could include your High School Education; Jobs beyond 10 years ago; Each career position’s tasks/responsibilities (rather, the key achievements from each role are far more powerful); Gender; Marital Status; Date of Birth; Hobbies; Interests; and Health Status.
- Academic publications list.
- Every single short course and seminar you have attended.
- A photo/headshot.
- Spelling, grammar, and formatting errors. Always proofread before sending and send your resume as a PDF to retain formatting.
- Fancy or elaborate fonts, too many different fonts, and/or hard-to-read colours.
You only have about two pages to sell yourself to your ideal board, so being concise and clear with the right information and removing everything else is necessary. It may feel like you’re cutting off your leg, but it is needed to ensure your board resume sends a clear, compelling, and concise message to the reader.
Where do you get stuck with your board resume?