As Australia’s leading board recruitment expert and an ex headhunter, I have reviewed thousands of CVs, seen how hundreds of Chairs react to them. I have personally written 1250+ board CV’s, have been described as a ‘CV expert’ and am a Top 10 Australian LinkedIn user. There are few, if any, in Australia with more experience than I have in developing or critiquing board CVs.
Many believe that their executive resume or CV is appropriate to use when applying for non-executive roles. After more than 10 years recruiting non-executives both internationally and in Australia, I can honestly say that it isn’t. If you are applying for a NED role, a specifically crafted NED resume is essential.
In a recent study, eye tracking technology showed that decision-makers can spend as little as six seconds(!) on their initial “fit/no fit” decision when viewing CVs. Most executive CVs contain information about your executive experience but rarely sufficient detail on your board experience. With this in mind, you need to consider whether your current board CV effectively prioritises your board experience and successes.
Further, this study also revealed that decision-makers were able to easily find and focus on the important information if they were looking at a professional CV – much faster than regular resumes or an online profile. This demonstrates that using a professional template where your skills, experience and achievements are clearly visible will positively affect the way your application is received.
Having written1250+ Board CVs in the past couple of years, I can tell you that a good board CV is not defined by it’s length or formatting rather, it must answer the central questions any Chair will want to know which are ‘Why should we appoint you to this board?’ and ‘What value can you offer the board?’.
To show what value you can offer a board, your NED resume must
- demonstrate your success at board level;
- be succinct and
- be readable.
- above all it must ‘dare them not to appoint you’
7 Points to Consider When Writing a NED Resume
- PHOTO: Including a photo is perfectly acceptable however by doing so can lead to discrimination based on your age, sex, disability or race – I recommend against it. You should also include you address & contact details (including a link to your LinkedIn profile).
- NON-EXECUTIVE PROFILE: Your profile should never be aspirational. It should outline your NED experience and the success your contributions as a NED have made to organisations in the past. Writing in the first person is fine but your profile should not exceed one brief paragraph. Key here is telling the reader that you address the 5 key things they are looking for in a successful appointment.
- NON-EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS: In an executive resume this section comes after details of your executive career. Here it comes first. This section should outline in chronological order your current and past non executive experience. Where you have been on sub boards or committees, these can also be included here.
- EXECUTIVE CAREER: Whilst this section will begin with the same information as would be found in your executive resume it should be much shorter and only include headline successes and titles – ideally ones that can be evidenced. However, it is also important to include the scale of your company and responsibility within as this supports your experience. Don’t forget to include any executive board or committee appointments you have here too.
- EDUCATION: This will replicate the content of your executive resume.
- EXTRA-PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES & PERSONAL INTERESTS: A list or explanation of any activities or personal interests that cannot be incorporated in the sections above for example: languages, awards, charity work or personal successes. They should demonstrate gravitas and although they might not get you appointed alone but will add value to your application and perhaps generate a connection with those interested in appointing you.
- REFEREES: Many Chairs/selection committees head straight to this section. They are interested to know if they know your referees. For this reason it is important to include the most relevant referees on your CV. This may not always mean the most significant individual you have worked with. It could mean that you include a referee that knows the Chair of the board you are applying to join.
Too busy to write a Board CV yourself?
As Australia’s leading board recruitment expert and an ex headhunter, I have reviewed thousands of CVs, seen how hundreds of Chairs react to them. I have personally written 1250+ board CV’s, have been described as a ‘CV expert’ and am a Top 10 Australian LinkedIn user. This combined experience means that nobody else is better equipped to craft your CV for you. If you would like assistance with your CV we offer a combined both a Board CV writing and LinkedIn Profile Development package: Click here for more information.
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: