The most desirable and lucrative board of director positions are relatively rare and highly competitive. If you are an executive board candidate hoping to land a board position, here are some tips to improve your competitive edge and position yourself to achieve your goals.
As an executive board candidate, you may be asked for an executive board resume or a board biography, or both. These are two separate documents and there are no clear “rules” on when you should use one or the other. A board resume is very similar in style to any other executive resume (there are a few differences). A board bio is a one-page document written in a narrative format. The details and branding of your bio should complement and echo the details and branding of your resume.
Be ready and able to clearly articulate your elevator pitch as a board of directors candidate. That is, the differentiating ways that you will fill gaps and add value to the boardroom. This will require research to understand the needs, skill gaps, and challenges a board is facing. It will also require deep introspection regarding the executive core competencies, special expertise, and unique perspective that you offer. A professional resume writer will be able to help you shape your elevator pitch into a succinct and impactful message that will be echoed and amplified on your resume, bio, letters, and LinkedIn profile.
Every board has a unique culture. Even with your valuable experiences and credentials, in the end, the most important factor will be whether or not you are judged to be a good “fit” for the board and whether they “like” you and “trust” you. Strive to convey an image of likability and unimpeachable integrity; at the same time, be sure the board culture is a good and authentic fit for YOU.
Recognize that you are entering into a very competitive world. No matter how strong your qualifications are, and how powerful your board resume is, landing a board position is likely to take a great deal of time, effort, and patience. If you are new to serving on boards, you may be most successful focusing on small-cap and mid-cap public or private companies. And don’t forget startup boards or advisory boards. Subject matter expertise is often sought out for these types of boards.
Consider serving on nonprofit boards. While these may be unpaid positions, they will help you expand your network and provide you with valuable first-hand governance experience that will enhance your board resume. For the same reasons, if you have the opportunity, serve as an inside director on the board of your employer.
Seek out mentors and sponsors. Mentors will advise and counsel you. Sponsors will help promote and endorse you in professional circles. Freely share your desire and goals to become a board director with people in your network. Ask for referrals or introductions to people in their network.
You will be vetted thoroughly and due diligence will be deep. Consider disclosing any potential negatives in your background early in the process. They will almost surely find them anyhow and your disclosure shows you are forthcoming and helps you build trust. Carefully audit and clean up your social media presence. This WILL be reviewed when you are being considered as a board candidate. No matter how private you think your settings are, remove ALL unflattering photos and controversial posts.
Build your personal brand and promote your board value proposition as an executive board candidate on social media. Post articles of relevance and interest, like and comment on relevant posts, and join/participate in groups focused on board of directors and topics of interest to them (there are a number of them on LinkedIn). Do things that illustrate your thought leadership and expertise, such as speaking at industry conferences and events and publishing articles, blogs, white papers, and books. source of information regarding board opportunities.
Consistency is the fruit of the tree of success. The more you do something effectively and with a goal in mind, the better you will get at it and the more you will feel fulfilled.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are some tips for executive board candidates?
Some tips for executive board candidates include being able to articulate your unique value, understanding the board’s culture, being patient in a competitive environment, considering serving on nonprofit boards, seeking out mentors and sponsors, being forthcoming about any potential negatives in your background, and building your personal brand on social media.
How can I improve my chances of landing a board position?
To improve your chances of landing a board position, you should clearly articulate your unique value, understand the board’s culture, and build your personal brand on social media. It’s also beneficial to seek out mentors and sponsors who can help promote you in professional circles.
What is the importance of a personal brand for an executive board candidate?
A personal brand is important for an executive board candidate as it helps to promote your board value proposition. This can be done through social media by posting relevant articles, liking and commenting on relevant posts, and joining groups focused on board of directors and topics of interest to them.
How can I gain experience for a board position?
One way to gain experience for a board position is by serving on nonprofit boards. While these may be unpaid positions, they can help you expand your network and provide you with valuable first-hand governance experience that will enhance your board resume.
What should I do if there are potential negatives in my background?
If there are potential negatives in your background, it’s best to disclose them early in the process. This shows that you are forthcoming and helps you build trust. Also, remember to carefully audit and clean up your social media presence as it will be reviewed when you are being considered as a board candidate.
How can I demonstrate my expertise as an executive board candidate?
You can demonstrate your expertise as an executive board candidate by doing things that illustrate your thought leadership and expertise, such as speaking at industry conferences and events and publishing articles, blogs, white papers, and books.
Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit https://www.distinctiveweb.com
Widely recognized as one of the industry’s longest-standing resume writing firms and an industry pioneer on the internet, Distinctive Career Services (aka Distinctive Documents) is respected for our unmatched expertise, quality, and commitment to clients. Since 1996, we have met the resume development and career marketing needs of well over 10,000 discriminating professionals in all 50 U.S. states and internationally.