Joining the boards of a different type of business than your core industry can help establish your influence in another. On your resume, board posts indicate high-level decision-making skills, strengths in collaboration and governance, management acumen and responsibility. All this raises your profile significantly, strengthening any future job search.
Besides the potential for being personally rewarding, being involved at board level in a business or non-profit is evidence of thought leadership, industry knowledge, experience and desirability as an employee/executive. It’s a great professional development step. It’s a key move for building your personal brand and increasing your perceived value to your own firm, to the industry and to those seeking to hire you.
Preparing a traditional cv or resume is something that we are all pretty familiar with. However, whether you are a new or aspiring company director, when it comes time for you to prepare a resume for a board position, there are some particular things that you should cover.
1. Know your audience—tailor it to the organisation
Before you begin writing, it is essential that you first fix your audience in your mind. Now ask yourself: “What will be most important to the nominating and governance committees that will be selecting and interviewing candidates to fill vacancies of the board of directors?”
- Know your audience and be clear about who you are writing your resume for. Research current members—are they missing key skills you can offer for this company and industry? Are you experienced in a synergistic industry into which they may want insight? For example, telecommunications and financial services increasingly overlap in the African context.
- Identify what is most important to your audience in relation to the open position
- Structure your resume to demonstrate your relevant leadership skills, knowledge, skills, and networks in a context that makes sense and is relevant to the directors receiving your CV
What are the factors that are most important for a board seat? The answer will vary according to the company or organization that you are targeting, but some of the most common experiences, areas of expertise, and qualifications that you may want to emphasize include:
- Visionary leadership and executive oversight experience
- Goal-setting and strategic planning skills
- Proven value as a strategic advisor
- Proven ability to work collaboratively within a multidisciplinary group
- Strong communication skills and ability to build consensus
- Industry expertise
- Financial acumen
- Demonstrated problem-solving abilities
- Fundraising abilities
- Public/community relations and experience as a spokesperson
- Other board interaction experience, internal governance experience, or committee work
When you write your board of directors’ resume, you should selectively include and emphasize accomplishments and past experience that show how you have demonstrated these traits and skills in action.
2. Don’t just list the activities you’ve done or the inputs you’ve managed.
Expertise in “Leading software companies through IPOs, VC and equity fundraising campaigns, and mergers and acquisitions” is far more powerful and compelling than simply stating that you have “15 years of experience in the software industry.”
Ask yourself the “so what” question’. A few examples to demonstrate this:
Instead of: Team lead for the XYZ project.
Consider: Implemented the XYZ system delivering on the projected $X in savings.
Instead of: Answered customer questions.
Consider: Contributed to customer retention rate of 98% by providing authoritative and complete answers to questions.
Instead of: Managed $150,000 business unit.
Consider: My $150,000 business unit grew revenue by 27% year-over-year, with a profit growth of >15% annually, and increased market share from 15% to 35%.
3. Stick to relevant education and qualifications
Use this section to note significant and relevant education that you have completed and any qualifications received. Remember to keep it relevant. It does, however, benefit you if you have had previous formal governance education (e.g. if you have completed TheBoardroom Africa’s “Open Doors” accredited training) so be sure to include it if you have completed it.
4. Raise your profile
If you aren’t fully committed to building your personal brand yet, it’s time to go all-in. When done right, you are able to establish yourself as an authority, create an authentic voice and attract business through transparency and expertise.
One easy way—use LinkedIn. Rather than just re-post someone else’s content, commit to regularly writing some long-form content exclusively for your LinkedIn profile. By turning comments into conversations, you engage with your audience and establish yourself as an authority.
Join professional organizations or attend industry conferences or speaking at them. As a TBR Africa member, we’ll also work to actively identify opportunities for you to elevate your voice and are happy to re-post and re-share your work with the broader TBR Africa network.
This post draws from content originally shared by Uber Brands, Get on Board Australia, as well as a LinkedIn post by leadership expert Michelle Dumas. These posts have been aggregated, edited and synthesised for length and relevance to TBR Africa members.