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How to develop a board CV

Boardroom, Board CV, Meeting

A board CV is a very different animal from an executive CV. A board CV requires you to highlight specific skills and experience in order to reflect a different purpose and alternative audience. Headhunters and decision makers, such as nomination committees, will receive at least 30 unsolicited CVs a day so you must invest time to ensure yours stands out for all the right reasons.

Here are four guiding principles to help you develop your board CV:

1) Your CV is a sales tool

Its sole purpose is to get you through the door. CVs need to be clear and concise, enticing the reader to find out more about you. The best way to approach your board CV is to identify your value proposition and director capabilities, then write the document from scratch with these core elements front and centre.

Don't forget your CV is only one element within the arsenal of tools at your disposal -all information that can be publicly accessed about you should be accurate and up to date. Ensure your LinkedIn profile reflects your personal brand / value proposition and you are appropriately represented on the websites of any organisations you work for.

2) Demonstrate your counselling and advisory skills upfront

Board skill-sets should be apparent throughout your CV. Even if you don't yet hold a board position, think of other situations and positions you've held where you have demonstrated your ability to encourage, question or steer, but you have not effectively 'owned' or executed the activity.

3) Modify and tailor your board CV to meet the needs of your audience

Have the needs of the reader in mind - highlight how you demonstrate the specific skills or experience they are seeking. If you try to squeeze all of your career history and experience into one short document, you will leave your audience overwhelmed and unengaged. Focus only on what is relevant and what you want to be known for.

4) The myth of the CV template

I see thousands of CVs every year and one issue that needs to be tackled is the myth of a standard board CV template. There is no such thing - many different formats and styles are effective, it's simply a matter of personal preference.

Practical tips:

  • Your most recent experience is the most relevant - make it the focus, and reduce the wordcount / level of detail as you go on to cover each previous role

  • When highlighting experience gained over 10 years ago, adopt the one line principle - let go!

  • Interests are interesting, show your human side - only include genuine interests

  • A profile summary can be useful to demonstrate your core skills and value upfront

  • A clear and well-structured format will ensure that your CV is more likely to be read

  • Ensure the font used is size 10+

  • Ideally, aim to limit your CV length to two pages

  • Proof read - ensure you get a second opinion by asking someone you trust to review your CV.

Always be mindful of the 30 : 2 : 5 rule. The majority of people will spend only 30 seconds scanning your CV. If you manage to grab their attention, the reader is likely to spend 2 minutes reviewing the document. If they are very interested, they will take up to 5 minutes to review your CV in detail and start to look into your background.

These are just some topline principles but I hope they go some way in helping you to craft your board CV. If you have any questions, or require specific advice regarding your board CV, please don't hesitate to contact our team directly.

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