Forewarned is forearmed: the challenges of gaining a board appointment.

board application cover letter

board application cover letter

Every day I meet people intent on starting a board career. For as many people wanting a board career, there are as many who say that finding a board role is just too difficult, so they give up the search. Nonetheless, Board Direction has so many success stories that I can vouch for the fact that, although gaining a board appointment is a highly competitive process, there are ways to ensure that your journey to that board position is an enjoyable and prosperous one.

Common challenges

1. Unrealistic expectations

Having unrealistic expectations of the role you are able to get is often the biggest stumbling block in the search for a board role. One has to be realistic and see that you apply for roles where you can prove that you not only have the experience and/or education to fulfill your duties as a board member but also add real value ($) to the organisation. For instance, applying for a role as a NED of the Board for a multi-national corporation when you have no prior non executive, isn’t very realistic. You may have excellent leadership qualities but when it comes to being appointed to a board, the role you apply for should be on par with your experience and qualifications. The more governance experience you have under your belt, the better the roles you can apply for.

2. Having no appropriate connections

If you don’t already have the right connections, people in common or industry knowledge, that will make an impression when they are mentioned during an interview or paper application, you should start developing them now. This will make your journey easier.

Regardless of the industry you want to focus on, you can start by making connections on social media. However, merely mentioning that you have common connections is usually not enough. Your aim should be to have connections in the ‘real world as well. That means engaging in a real conversation. In doing so you will probably gain some valuable insights that could help you further your board career but also build genuine relationships that are mutually beneficial.

3. Using your regular CV in a board application

Many believe that an executive CV is enough to show a board that you have what they need to appoint you to their board. However, research has proven that candidates with a proper board ready CV, that emphasizes previous governance experience and strategic executive experience, have a much higher success rate than those candidates submitting their regular executive CV to a board.

4. Not having the right qualifications

The right governance qualification will carry weight in your board search – though it should not be relied upon alone to get you a ‘gig’. One of the best governance qualifications is the Grad Dip in Applied Corporate Governance through Governance Institute. By completing it not only will you demonstrate intent you will also qualify yourself for the ‘job’.

5. N0 demonstrable passion

Showing passion for the role you are going for carries tremendous weight with boards & Chairs alike. This is important because either overtly or subvertly the Chair will want to know – ‘Why, of all the boards you could have applied to be part of, did you choose theirs?’. To respond to this, during the interview process or as part of your written application, you must demonstrate that this is just another shot in the dark or one of many roles you applied for. Instead, you need to show purpose and passion . Doing our Board Ready Course will go a long way in showing your commitment to a career in governance but also how to find ways to articulate your passion appropriately.

6. Not being prepared for a board interview

Imagine… you walk into the room for your first board interview. You have sat through numerous executive interviews before and assume this will be the same only to find out that it isn’t and you are woefully prepared for the first question – ‘What are the synergies between what you have done in the past and what you currently do and what is required of you for this board position?’. You must know how to dare them not to appoint you.

How Board Direction can help you have a painless Board search?

Board Direction specializes in placing people on boards. From advertising available board vacancies, writing board ready CV’s and making NED introductions to our Board Ready Course, every one of our services are aimed at helping you be appointed to a board.

The following is a list of our services that can all help you in your board search:

  1. Membership – everything you need to get a board appointment
  2. Board CV Writing – don’t wait to find out that your current CV isn’t up to scratch.
  3. Interview Preparation – there are many things you can not prepare for but a board interview is not one of them.
  4. Board Applications – We have assessed 000’s of board applications – we know what works and what doesn’t.
  5. Board Appointment Masterclasses – find out what only Chairs and Recruiters know about the board appointment process.
  6. Board Ready Course – training and accountability that will drive your board success
  7. Non-Executive Director Program – guaranteed to get you board ready
  8. Advertised Vacancies – 800+ organisations each year advertise over 1000 board vacancies with us
  9. Find Directors & Be found – search and contact board members for free

David Schwarz,

MD, Board Direction

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