Perhaps in response to the growing media and community focus on the topic of women on Australian boards, a growing number of corporate women are seeking board positions.
Some have their sights firmly set on a full-time career as a non-executive director, others wish to contribute to their community by serving on a non-profit board, others to obtain professional experience they are not able to gain from their current job and yet others to follow their passion in a particular field of endeavour.
Whatever their reason for applying a board role and whatever the level or sector of their board of interest, from the largest multinational to the smallest management committee, there is one marketing tool that every aspiring board or committee member needs to underpin their application – a quality Board CV.
Board CVs differ from the standard jobseeking resume in many ways. Because a board CV is a showpiece for the way an applicant can add value at the highest level, it needs to be pitched at a more strategic level than a standard resume, more focused and succinct and can be abbreviated in ways that would be considered inappropriate on a resume.
Board CVs should be strongly targeted to highlight an applicant’s leadership skills, knowledge of, networks in and commitment to the community or industry in which the board is involved, and should ideally be no longer than 2 – 3 pages.
When preparing a Board CV, it is crucial that you invest sufficient time in researching the organisation you are applying to, and its industry, to take advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate your expertise in those areas. It’s important to remember that a CV is marketing document above all else, and should be tailored to the requirements of the applicable board, its industry and the applicant.
At the Board level, generic, undifferentiated CVs do not work as well as individually customised documents. While there are many formats that a Board CV can take, one easily customisable model that has assisted people find board roles across a range of industries and sectors follows the lines below:
<<Firstname, Lastname>> <<Address>> <<Telephone – business and mobile if possible, but if not, mobile alone is acceptable>> <<Email>>
PROFILE (up to 10 lines)
Your profile should list the experience, achievements, skills and networks you can bring to the board. Some people prefer to add a separate “Achievements” heading, which also works well.
List current and previous roles you’ve held on boards or management committees – even if they’re not relevant to the position of interest, they all demonstrate your commitment and leadership skills.
List membership of any professional organisations or community groups to which you belong.
EDUCATION, QUALIFICATIONS AND AWARDS
List any tertiary qualifications – unless you are a school-leaver or recent TAFE or University graduate, it is not appropriate to include your secondary education achievements on a CV of this nature.
You can also use this section to list your professional awards and recognition and depending on the board in question, you could also use this section to list sporting achievements and community awards.
A succinct overview of your employment history over the past approximately 10 years, unless earlier jobs are relevant to the board of interest. Include the organisation’s name, the date you commenced and finished your employment and your job title.
Unless a role is of specific relevance to the board you’re interested in, try to keep the information you include about your responsibilities very high level and to a maximum of three lines. It’s not unusual for boards to ask applicants to also address other requirements, such as providing brief biographies and listing referees.
So before submitting your application, make sure you’ve read the recruitment information kit carefully, drafted a professional covering letter, doubled checked your application for grammar and spelling and provided all the requirement information to demonstrate that you’re the best candidate for the role.