There’s a big difference between the resumé that will get you your next executive position and the one that will help you land a board seat.
If you’re serious about securing a coveted board seat, you need to highlight your strengths in the area of governance, your committee experience, and much more in the board resumé.
Here are some tips for getting your non-executive resumé right.
Keep it succinct
Board resumés are generally shorter than executive resumés. A crucial difference is that they focus more on current and past board and committee roles, rather than your employment history and achievements.
As a rule of thumb, this is what you might include in each.
Executive resumé structure (3-4 pages):
Employment history, including key achievements
Non-executive resumé structure (1-2 pages):
Brief executive career summary
Current and past board and committee roles
Highlight your strengths strategically
In your overview, it’s really important to communicate why you should be considered for the board seat. What value will you add in the board room?
Remember, they may not necessarily be interested in your executive experience. It might be your industry experience or background with mergers and acquisitions or building markets overseas, for example, that is your point of difference. Maybe what makes you attractive to the board is your background in establishing organisational or finance strategy or in specialist fields like cyber security. You need to articulate that.
Be sure to touch on your strengths in the area of governance, which could include financial governance, ethical decision-making, crisis management or governance around dealing with regulators or other risks.
It’s a good idea to tweak your resumé and tailor it to the particular role you’re applying for.
Include any board and committee roles
Have you been chair of an audit and risk committee? Maybe you’ve been on another type of finance, IT or investment committee?
The chairperson of the board you’re applying for and/or the search consultant will be looking for committee experience when scanning your resumé.
Likewise, include any paid or unpaid board experience, whether it’s for corporates, government, start-ups, sports organisations or not-for-profits.
Think twice about the headshot
The general consensus is to exclude headshots from resumés, but things get a little murky when it comes to board resumés.
Executive Interview Coaching founder Richard Elstone works as a search consultant in addition to offering coaching services. He says about 50 per cent of the board candidates he comes across do include a photo on their board resumés.
“I’m not a big fan of photos, but it’s probably okay on a board resumé,” he says.
If you do decide to include a headshot, make sure it is professional and recent. You may even consider getting some professionally done – you can use these on LinkedIn too.
Keep your executive and board resumés separate
You may be tempted to jam-pack all of your executive and board experience into one all-encompassing resumé. But it’s probably not the best approach.
“Some people do a combined executive and non-executive resumé, but I wouldn’t,” says Richard.
“A combined resumé often looks messy, particularly if you’re putting all your committee experience and executive roles in. It also ends up being too long.”
Richard suggests instead having two separate resumés.
“I think that people should have a board resumé and an executive resumé and send both when applying for a board role,” he says.
“That way, you get the information you want to come across in a much clearer manner to the people reading it.”
List the Company Directors’ Course
If you haven’t already done the Company Directors’ Course, it’s a good idea to look into it.
The Company Directors’ Course offered by the Australian Institute of Company Directors equips you with knowledge around your duties and responsibilities as a board member.
If you successfully complete the (optional) course assessment, you qualify for the Company Director Course Award and may be eligible to use the GAICD post nominal (AICD members only). This is a great addition to include in both your executive and non-executive resumés.
“Doing the directors’ course is a fantastic idea, particularly if you’re an aspiring non-executive director,” says Richard.
“Often executives find the qualification useful in their current roles as it gives them an insight into what information boards are interested in. It also shows you’ve taken the time to understand the issues you’re going to be confronting as a non-executive director and gives you further credence and credibility about being serious about becoming a good non-executive director who understands their obligations.”
Don’t include referees
Richard suggests not including referees on either the executive or non-executive resumés. In this day and age, it’s not really necessary. The search consultants or chairperson will ask for referees and you want to ensure that the referees are relevant to that particular appointment.
Remember the basics
Don’t forget to triple check your resumés before sending them. You’d be amazed at how many people make silly mistakes, like forgetting to include contact details.
Before you submit your resumés, it’s always a good idea to do so with a phone call to the search partner to test if your background is relevant to that NED opportunity.
“If you can make a phone call and have a chat to someone, it really does elevate your application,” says Richard.
One last thing…
Before applying for a board role, update your LinkedIn page. The chairperson and/or search partner will likely check out your profile as part of their due diligence, so make sure it’s up to scratch.
Need expert advice?
If you’re serious about landing a non-executive board appointment, your resumé needs to cut through the competition and make a mark. Executive Interview Coaching can help.
The Non-Executive Ready program is designed to help aspiring and experienced non-executive directors position themselves competitively. We’ll provide advice around how to put together a resumé and then undertake the necessary interview preparation to land you a board role. Get in touch today.
To find out if you are ready, take the non-executive scorecard to see where you might need help to enhance your performance.
You can also find advice about some of the questions you might expect in a board interview in our recent blog.