Becoming a board member within your own company, a new company, a nonprofit, or a leading industry organization can be very beneficial, both personally and professionally. Board experience shows that you have leadership experience and industry knowledge, which can both be leveraged as you move up in your career.
In terms of your own personal branding, board experience is a huge plus, as it increases your value, ensures you are perceived as an asset by hiring managers, and establishes your leadership credibility in your industry.
Now that you’re ready to apply for that coveted board position, here are our top tips on how to showcase your leadership in the best light and write a winning resume for a board position.
How to Minimize Hiring Risk by Understanding Committee Needs
Did you know that according to the 2022 PwC annual survey of corporate directors, approximately 47% of the respondents agreed that one or more of their directors should be replaced due to the inability to challenge management, having a negative communication style, diminished performance and overstepping their roles?
This is precisely why selection committees are extremely attentive to detail and personality alignment when it comes to choosing new board members. So, what can you do to lower hiring managers’ risk adversity by positioning yourself as an ethical and responsible leader?
One way to do so is to showcase when you were able to challenge bad management in a responsible and professional manner that helped your team or company avert loss. Another way is to highlight your communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills that showcase empathy and compassion.
Although these skills may be seen as “soft skills,” they matter more than you think. It is these skills that will help set two equally qualified candidates apart and help lower the hiring defenses of corporate directors that have had their shares of challenges when it comes to overlooking personality misalignments and soft skill contributions.
The Importance of Board Position Resume Customization
If you’re an executive who aspires to serve on a Board of Directors within a company or nonprofit organization, it’s important to make sure your resume is tailored for that specific position.
No matter how polished your executive resume is, or how accomplished and experienced you may be, it’s easy for your board-level experience and knowledge to be lost in the mix among everything else highlighted on your resume. Nominating committees are looking for specific criteria, so it’s important to make sure your resume focuses on exactly what they require, in a clear and concise manner.
Board resumes are all about value proposition and showcasing the candidate’s individual approach to leadership. Your board resume should be different from your executive resume, as it puts things in a different context, will have a different purpose, and needs to be tailored for a more specific audience.
When crafting your board level resume, ask yourself the following questions:
What type of board do you want to serve on?
When you make the decision to serve on a board, the first step is to figure out what type of board you want to serve on and why that particular board appeals to you. Be sure to convey that in your resume as much as possible, as searches for board members have become more targeted over the years. Once you know which particular board you’d like to serve on, research the board and study their values and goals, and then make sure those shared values are reflected in your resume.
Another point of focus is to discern how this particular board experience will help you achieve your personal and professional goals. Serving on a board will take energy, time, and focus, and by framing your “whys,” you will be better able to translate them through the lens of your resume.
But, before you choose the boards that seem the best candidates for your value contribution, it is important to do a bit of diligence. Perhaps you can connect with other board members in these corporations on LinkedIn and ask a few questions. You can also reach out to former board members and ask to take them out to coffee so that you can learn more about the role and whether it is actually right for you (and how to present your best foot forward).
Doing research and due diligence on your top companies is incredibly important, since it will give you enormous insight into the governance and operations of each company and save you plenty of time and resources down the road.
What corporate experience do you have?
Corporate experience is one of the most important parts of the board resume. Showcasing this experience in the right way is crucial to the success of your resume. According to Ralph Ward, publisher of Boardroom Insider, there are two main types of corporate experience, and both should be included in your resume.
“Board interaction experience” conveys to the board that you are experienced in the boardroom environment. Be sure to include projects you worked on where you had the opportunity to work with directors, as it shows that you are familiar with that type of environment.
“Internal company governance” is any situation where you served on a committee, represented your company among national or international groups, or were involved in labor union negotiations. This type of corporate experience shows that you have experience negotiating, coming to agreements, and making important decisions among a group of people.
Is everything included in your board resume relevant?
When writing your board-level resume, it’s important to be thinking like a director. Envision yourself as a board member and think about what information is relevant and what no longer matters for this specific position. Be sure to offer examples and concrete evidence of your qualification and experience, rather than just an outline or overview of your past positions.
When writing your board-level resume, delete anything that isn’t relevant to board experience, besides your executive positions. Then, go through and make sure every single piece of information or experience listed on your resume is tailored to the board level.
It’s also important to be as specific as possible. Those reviewing your resume want to know that you can put information together in a clear, straightforward way. Also, don’t forget to focus on the value or the outcomes of your work. If you can attach a number to the impact you’ve created at every role, it will be easier for the review committee to picture the tangible value you can bring to the corporate leadership team.
Overall, put yourself in the shoes of the selection committee. There is a problem that they need to solve and are looking for the best person to do so. Knowing that, how can you present yourself in a way that showcases that you’ve got all the talent and skills necessary to be an asset to the organization? Looking at your current resume, would you be convinced that you’re the right person for the job? If not, read on!
Is there a skill gap in the board you are applying for?
Another important step in writing your resume for the board of directors is to research the board. Do you bring a specific skill to the table that they are currently lacking? If the answer is yes, be sure to focus on that in your resume.
There are specific skills and experiences boards look for. Be sure to include and highlight:
- Ability to set goals and plan strategically
- Multidisciplinary experience
- Volunteering background
- Foreign language knowledge and cross-cultural experience
- Ability to work with and make decisions among a group
- Communication skills
- Committee work, internal governance experience, and/or experience interacting with a board
- Negotiation and conflict resolution skills
- Industry expertise, knowledge, and experience
- Leadership experience and style
- Problem-solving skills
Tips for Writing a Good Board of Directors Resume
Here are a few board of directors resume pointers that you should consider when structuring and writing your resume:
- Highlight why your skills would help the board make the right decisions for the organization’s growth
- Think about why the board is looking for a new addition and show how you can solve the problem they are looking to bridge
- Show the board directly how you were able to solve a similar pain point in your field by applying the skill-set that is required
- Think about how you can stand out from the competition by crafting a unique value proposition (this includes value statements that highlight what you were able to accomplish in your prior positions)
- Review which other soft skills you can bring to the table that could help the board navigate its organizational challenges
- If you feel in any way underqualified, think of your relevant strengths and highlight them; how can you show that your abilities led to concrete results in a related area of expertise?
- Make sure your resume is not only geared toward who you are and what you can offer but also how you can solve problems through tangible project examples
Here are just a few more of our internal resources that can help your resume stand out from the competition:
Board Resume Template Tips
To help you pool all of this advice together into a direct resume strategy, here are a few tips on how to structure your board resume effectively.
The resume headline should read as your value proposition statement. It should succinctly summarize who you are professionally, what you do, and where you’re heading. Personalize each headline for every board position, which will signal that your resume is targeted only for that specific coveted position.
Related Jobs and Skills
Any related jobs, volunteering opportunities, and other board of directors positions should be highlighted in this section. Which prior positions align with your bid for the board of directors role? Any opportunity or personality asset that would make you stand out and highlight your hard and soft skills is important to mention.
Description of Impact and Achievement
This is the tangible way you can showcase what you can do and how you can do it better than your competitors. Present numbers, percentiles, and case scenarios to build your credibility as a creative problems solver.
Education and Certifications
Showcase all your education, training, and certifications that support your skills and accomplishments.
Invest In Yourself With Professional Resume Services
Feeling on track but needing a bit more professional help with your board resume? As an award-winning resume writing company recognized for our personal attention, Capstone Resume Services has years of experience writing board-level resumes for experienced executives.
At Capstone, we work with you to highlight your specific achievements and draw on your experiences. The result is a professional custom resume that is sure to get you noticed by hiring managers and nominating committees.
To request a consultation or learn more about our resume services, contact Capstone today!