NED Series Blog 4 –
I have been considering applying for a NED or Trustee role for some time now and waiting to see an opportunity that really spoke to me. I found it. I yelped with excitement! I shouted to my husband “I’ve found it!”. Then reality hit. I had to write my Board CV in order to apply. I have never held a Board role before, so it is new to me and a learning opportunity.
Since 2005 I have spent a fair amount of time supporting others with their CVs. I love helping and giving tips. Shocking confession: I hate writing my own CV. And now I have a website and my own business I haven’t had to do it for years. It is so much easier and more fun helping other people with their CV than writing your own.
But I couldn’t escape it, so here ar seven things I learnt, and hopefully they will help you if you have to do the same.
1. It takes time and perseverance. I confess, on more than one occasion I questioned whether I really wanted to be a Trustee enough to keep going with writing my CV. I do and I did, but if you are someone that likes to get things done at pace, it may test your patience.
2. Feedback from others who have already held a Board role will help you improve your CV. But each time you get some feedback you become really aware of its weaknesses and you have to rally yourself for another go at it. (see point one.)
3. Your Board CV needs to be different in structure and focus to your chronological Executive CV. You can’t just brain dump everything you have ever done. You need to draw out relevant things. Write about your committee experience and showcase the things you would bring to a Board – your unique selling points.
4. As with your regular CV, there isn’t a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ format, but there are key sections the reader will be expecting to see. After various iterations I went with:
- Strengths / USPs
- Committee Experience
- Other Giving Back and Paying Forward Activities
- Executive Experience
- Qualifications and Memberships
5. The candidate brief / role profile and information on the organisation will help you tailor your CV and covering letter. Don’t just fire off a generic application. Research specifically what they are looking for and highlight examples of when you’ve delivered these things.
6. It must not be more than two pages in length, and it takes ruthless prioritisation to distil the essence of you and everything you want to share, especially when it is a position you are really excited about. You have to let some things go. And sadly, you can’t just make the font smaller and smaller.
7. The covering letter (or covering e mail) is really important too, and gives you precious extra space to sell yourself. Don’t duplicate everything in your CV, instead focus on your motivations for the particular position and your relevant USPs. i.e. why you want the position and why you’d be great for it.
Huge thanks to my personal ‘Board of Directors’ who supported and challenged me through the process – for practical tips and pointers but also the general encouragement, and reminders to be confident.
In case you are interested, I have submitted my application. Expect another blog if I get invited to interview!
For other resources and insights into going for your first NED or Trustee role head to:
- The resources section of my website and download the 25-page White Paper sharing research findings from a survey of 52 HR leaders who also hold a Board role.
- My three earlier NED/Trustee blogs: