How Much Does a Board CV Really Count when Looking for a Board Position?

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‘If only a great Board CV meant securing a board role’. 

This was a comment I recently received from a member. She of course had a point – you should never just rely upon your CV to do the talking for you – your networks and other tactics are incredibly valuable. However, not having a CV that effectively and succinctly outlines what you can offer to a board can be the difference to whether you are overlooked for the board position that you really want or not. Worse still, submitting a poor Board CV can let down others who might have recommended you for a position – further damaging your reputation.

I have sat in many a board appointment meeting with Chairs and Board Members discussing which NED applicants to interview or appoint to a board. I can tell you it can often be the smallest thing that separates successful applicants from unsuccessful ones and, at least initially, the board CV lies at the heart of most discussions.

It goes without saying that when applying for an executive role your CV counts a great deal. This is after all how you are initially judged. What you say, how you say it and the overall tone of your CV speak a great deal of your ability to do the job. This is why so many people spend such time and effort carefully crafting their application documents. However, in my experience this is rarely the case when it comes to board CVs.

In fact, most people use their same executive CV to apply for Non-Executive Board roles. I say unfortunately because this sort of CV by definition defines your executive success – not board level ones – and is specifically targeted towards executive roles. These roles require evidence of hands on detail of management, or the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a technical position. They of course demonstrate that you are good at a ‘job’ and your ability to implement decisions made by a board or CEO and NOT your adeptness of being part of a board. 

While in some situations this same CV might evidence some strategic successes they, by very nature, are different to the decisions made by individuals at board level – a very different role.

In a competitive board application process, and they almost all are, a Board CV is absolutely critical. It can be the difference to being seen or not.

Your Board Profile

A good Board CV should demonstrate, above all, that you have given proper thought as to what you will offer the board or Chair if appointed. This will initially mean writing a concise, evidence laden and targeted Board Profile – often the most difficult part of the process. Your profile is absolutely the most important part of your CV because it will state clearly, early and evidence that you are Board Ready. Don’t expect to get it right immediately it takes time and should to be honed to properly reflect the offer that you are making to each board that you are applying for. It is worth spending time on this element because without this clarity your following CV will not be cohesive and you will likely be perceived, in comparison to someone with a board CV, as just one of many who are taking a punt at being appointed.

Board Appointments are a competitive process – you need to give them no reason not to see you.

So, will a good Board CV alone secure you a board role? 

No of course not. Just as a good executive CV will not secure you a job. However, when it counts most not having a Board CV will put you at an immediate disadvantage.  Why take the chance?

Board Direction wrote over 250 Board CVs last year alone and are arguably the most qualified to do so. The Board Access Plus package, our most popular, offers a complimentary Board CV for you to get you Board Ready in addition to access to our 100+ Board Vacancies each month and our unique Board Member Profiling Service – connecting recruiting organisations to our members. You can also order your Board Ready CV here.

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.mo1656869149c.noi1656869149tceri1656869149ddrao1656869149b@tca1656869149tnoC1656869149