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Some helpful advice to position you as a board-ready candidate, from Borderless Partner, Rosalie Harrison.
Your Board CV is not just a modified version of your Professional CV. Start fresh. With your Board CV, you are creating your Board brand. You must be thoughtful about how you want to present yourself. You must shift the presentation of your value from execution to oversight, from operational tactics to strategic analysis, and from directive to collective. Unlike the workplace which has a defined hierarchy, Board members are individuals who discuss and deliberate to arrive at a common understanding. Decisions are made by collaboration and consensus-building. An understanding of all of these nuances must be subtly reflected in your Board CV.
Customize Your Board CV and Nomination Paperwork for Each Opportunity
To prepare an effective Board CV, you must be very familiar with the values and mission of the Company you are seeking to serve. You should also be familiar with the profiles of all other members of the Board and any specific expertise they are lacking. Know what this Board needs in its newest member. In addition, you must be aware of all of the nomination requirements and protocols for the particular Board seat in question. If you have followed the steps in our Due Diligence Worksheet, this information should already be available to you. Use this information to customize your CV. Most importantly, your Board CV should align with the strategic vision of the Company, and your values and strategic alignment should be apparent within the first two sentences of your CV. This means that you cannot create one Board CV that is appropriate for all circumstances but must customize your CV for each opportunity. Be mindful. If you have difficulty creating a CV that meets this requirement, then perhaps the Board opportunity that you are seeking is not the right match for you.
Build Your Business Case for the Value You Bring to the Table
Make a list of your core skill sets. Ask yourself, what is my specific talent or niche? How can I brand myself and what unique combination of talents will I bring to the table? If a Board CV is drafted correctly, the Board Nominating Committee should have a clear understanding of the strengths you will bring to the Board. Your skill sets should be presented clearly enough that your potential committee involvement and value is apparent. In addition, the right keywords and tone should be linked to your skills (collaboration, strategy, consensus etc.) to demonstrate that you will be able to contribute your skills with effective Director — not executive — capability.
Your Board CV should also demonstrate that you understand the function of a Board of Directors and are sophisticated enough to understand the implications of the process. Specifically, your professional achievements must be stated in terms of the value they can bring to the Board. In addition, it should be apparent from your presentation that you can think and act as a Non-Executive Director, i.e., that you will bring an independent and unbiased greater industry and business perspective.
Finally, your CV should be written for public disclosure, as such records may be subject to disclosure requirements and/or corporate governance regulations. For this reason, you must be very thoughtful about how you present yourself.
Use a Concise Two Page CV Structure
Your Board CV should be much more concise than your professional CV. The following is a sample format that can be used effectively for a Board CV. It is not the only format and should be amended as needed for each opportunity. Here goes:
Telephone (business and mobile if possible) Email
PROFILE (A maximum of 10 lines of text)
This is where you will create your brand and set forth your value. Concisely highlight experience, achievements, skills and networks that make you a strong and unique candidate. If you have particularly noteworthy achievement, you may want to consider creating a separate “Achievements” section.
List any and all current and/or previous roles you have held on boards or management committees. This includes non-profit boards and advisory committees. Such experience demonstrates your commitment and leadership skills, even if they are outside of the relevant industry.
List your membership to any professional organization or community groups to which you belong.
HIGHER EDUCATION, QUALIFICATIONS AND AWARDS
List only tertiary degrees and qualifications. It is not appropriate to include your secondary education achievements on a CV of this nature. You can also use this section to list your professional awards and recognition and depending on the board in question, sporting achievements and community awards.
This should include a succinct overview of your employment history. As a general rule, include jobs you have held for the last 10 years unless earlier positions are relevant to the board of interest. Include the organization’s name, the date you commenced and finished your employment, and your job title. Summarize your responsibilities in a maximum of three lines and keep the description at a very high level.
Before you submit your CV, read all the information related to the recruitment. Make sure you have met all of the other requirements. Boards often ask applicants for a brief biography and a list of references. Draft a professional cover letter, and double-check all of your documents for grammar and spelling. Review all materials. Your Board documents should include all of the information needed to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the role.