Being good enough counts – especially when it comes to board appointments. When applying for a board role, being good enough counts much more than you think.
Unlike many senior executive appointment processes where tens of thousands of dollars are often spent on a recruitment process or a recruitment consultant and that is tied to a rigid process, the board appointment process can be a more personal and flexible affair. This is important to know and should shape the way you look and apply for board roles.
A recent board appointment survey found that approximately 15% of all board vacancies are filled via a formal recruitment process. The other 80+% of appointments are made through brief or informal appointment processes. In these cases existing relationships and informal networks count more than the stated application process itself. So with this in mind it is important to know what to expect when responding to a board vacancy – even one that is advertised.
Organisations generally always want the best people to sit on their boards but the process for finding them can be daunting or the resources required underestimated. As a result of this the process can often be abruptly altered, a stated application date closed early or the appointment made via a personal connection.
Whilst I think holding out for a stated closing date to finish is good for PR for an organisation and valuable (as often the last few applications received are the best ones) an organisation managing their own appointment process may view things differently.
You can imagine the desire to wind up a formal, long and resource sapping process early occurring if, for example, one hundred applications had been received and there were still two more weeks until applications formally closed. It would equally be more likely to happen if some of the applications that were already received were deemed ‘good enough’. And more likely still if someone connected to the board recommended a candidate that they thought was appropriate.
As you can imagine, this situation occurs more often than you might think and has left many a disappointed potential applicant. This flexibility can happen for very good reasons and should not be used as an indication of the quality of the board or organisation. Instead, it should guide the way you approach application processes.
So how do you make sure you are ‘good enough’?
- Don’t wait too long to apply. Get your application in early, clarify the process and register an interest (immediately after doing your research) when you find an opportunity. In short, you want to be the first applicant they receive an application from that is ‘good enough’.
- Ensure you are a ‘warm candidate’. Use an application to make yourself known to the board, the recruiter or the HR manager and people connected to the organisation. Do this through your research prior to picking up the phone to inquire about the role or to introduce yourself.
- An even better idea than just being a warm candidate is to get yourself introduced to the board via a personal connection. As I stated in the beginning, more than 80% of all board appointments are made via personal connections.
How can Board Direction help?
Because you can’t waste too much time in applying for a board role (in case they close the applications early) you need all the help you can get completing your application. Board Direction’s Board Application Service includes everything you need to ensure that your application will not only be handed in on time but that it will stand out from the rest, giving you a competitive edge so you can dare them not to appoint you.
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 20,000 connections. Email: ua.mo1656868092c.noi1656868092tceri1656868092ddrao1656868092b@tca1656868092tnoC1656868092