Over 10% of current board members stated that they were appointed to their most recent board via an advertised role. That might seem like a low percentage and indeed there are better ways to be appointed. However, sooner or later a role you want will be advertised, you will need to apply for it and it will undoubtedly be oversubscribed, so you need to know how to stand out.
Since inception, Board Direction has advertised 10,000+ board vacancies for 5000+ individual organisations. We are now comfortably Australia' largest and most diverse advertiser of board vacancies - and perhaps the only place in Australia where you can access every publicly advertised board opportunity. We work hard at gathering as much information as we can to get the best value for our members. However, should you not yet be a member, then you need to know where else you can find these vacancies.
To begin with, you could view these websites: probonoaustralia.com.au or www.communitydirectors.com.au; they often advertise voluntary roles. But you should also keep an eye on the weekly national and state newspapers – the Financial Review on Fridays and weekend national papers. Additionally, NED advertisements sometimes appear in trade magazines, in local and daily papers. One good thing to do is to register for SEEK updates on board roles and equally, registering for updates via LinkedIn is worthwhile as it is increasingly used to fill board roles. Do consider the AICD who advertise board roles too - but you will need to be a member and then pay an additional fee to access their meagre offering. Oh and there are a couple of small consultancies around who will promise to give you access to board vacancies if you are willing to pay up to $100k to sit on those boards.
In the end it might just be easier to become a member of Board Direction!
Responding to advertisements
Once you have found an opportunity that you are interested you need to know how to apply in a way that is going to separate yourself from your competitors. You should treat the way you respond to advertisements similarly to the way you work with recruiters or apply directly to a company.
You really shouldn't do anything with out first doing your research on the opportunity. On the assumption that you have done your research, you should then, and only then, speak to the advertiser. Sometimes this is the recruiter but often it is the decision maker (the Board Chair or Chair of the Nominations Committee). Either way, you should know who you are calling and research them prior to making the call.
Again, the idea here is to be memorable and to gain as much useful information as possible so that you can use it in a formal application. Of course you should be memorable for good reasons. That means having something intelligent to say, something insightful gleaned from your research, it means being able to articulately convey what value you bring to the board and it means using a similar opening as the one we discussed using on the recruiter. The end result is that you want to demonstrate yourself to be are proactive, informed, well-connected, understand their business and are passionate (and qualified) about what they do.
Further beyond wanting to impress them and stand out you also need more information so that you can put in the best possible application. For example it might be useful to know:
- What their challenges are.
- What they are 'really' looking for in a successful candidate
Importantly, you should also:
- Clarify the application process and closing dates.
- Register an interest.
Once you have 1. done your research, 2. spoken to the advertiser and 3. clarified the information above, you should then, and only then, begin writing an application.
By now you will have worked out that applying for roles in this fashion is time-consuming. If you are going to do this, then you want it to count.
Unless otherwise directed, you should produce/write three documents (in this order)
- An application document (addressing the key criteria)
- A ‘board ready’ cover letter
- A ‘board ready’ CV
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Of all the steps you can take to ensure your successful journey to a board career, joining Board Direction is the best decision you can make. Becoming a member of Board Direction allows you full access to the most comprehensive list of NED advertisements, entry into our NED Directory to make it easy for boards to find you and depending on the membership package you choose, you will receive a bespoke Board CV, an effective LinkedIn profile, entry to our Board Search Masterclasses, the Board Appointments book, Board Application Reviews and much more.
About the Author
David Schwarz is CEO & Founder of Board Direction - Australia’s leading board advertising and non-executive career support firm. He has over a decade of experience of putting people on boards as an international headhunter and a non-executive recruiter and has interviewed over one thousand non-executives and placed hundreds into some of the most significant public, private and NFP roles in the world. He has been described as Australia's leading board recruitment expert, is a published author, a regular speaker on the board appointment process and runs Board Search Masterclasses across Australia. He is one of Australia’s Top 10 LinkedIn users with over 25,000 connections. Email: [email protected]