The secret to a stand out director’s resume

By Vanessa Jolly, Brad Booth and Glee Mitchell, Board Recruitment Specialists

Anyone seeking a board role should have a clearly articulated statement about the type of board role they are seeking and how they can value add to a board.  A directors’ resume is also critical – and it is not the same as an executive resume.

Having read thousands of director resumes, our Board Recruitment Specialists offer some tips on what good looks like when it comes to this key document.

A director’s resume should be two pages (three at a maximum) and focus on skills and expertise relevant to a board. Even if you don’t have board experience, you should relate your skills and experience to the functions of a board or refer to your ‘board related experience’. This might include directly reporting to a board, being involved in a board committee or being on the board of a subsidiary entity within your corporate group.

The purpose of a directors’ resume is to get you on the ‘long list’ for a role as a recruiter or board does an initial ‘sort’ of applications. The recruiter might be considering hundreds of resumes and so you need yours to be easy to read, punchy and tell a compelling story.

If you are successful in getting to the long list, then a recruiter or the company will come back and seek more detail from you.

In this context a director’s resume should include the following key components:

  • Profile summary: A clearly articulated statement about your career experience, your key skills and experience, industries and sectors worked in, key achievements and how you can add value to a board.
  • Board roles (or board/governance-related experience): These should be listed in reverse chronological order including dates and key company data (eg industry, asset base, turnover, number of employees), key board roles held and your key contributions
  • Career history: Again, this should be in reverse chronological order for the last 15 years including for each role relevant dates, title and description of position, company name and key company data, key duties and key achievements. Career experience more than 15 years ago should just be summarized into a sentence or two.
  • Key skills and attributes: Your key skills, particularly as they relate to the function of a board and the role of a director should be listed succinctly.
  • Education and qualifications: A succinct summary of your key qualifications, the year and from which institution.
  • Professional memberships: List your current memberships and any particular status eg Fellow.
  • Significant awards and publications: These should be summarised into a few lines if you have an extensive list of publications or papers in your name.

Some other factors to consider when preparing your resume.

  • Use a small, professional corporate photo if you choose to include a photo in your resume. (There is no right or wrong in this regard – some recruiters prefer photos and others don’t.)
  • Make your contact details easy to find and ensure that your personal email address on your resume is a professional one. What might be funny when corresponding with friends, might not give the right impression to a board you are seeking to join.
  • Ensure your resume is well formatted and proofed so that it includes no grammatical or typographical errors. Remember that how you express yourself in your resume is part of how a board is assessing your communication skills and other personal attributes.
  • PDF your resume before you send it out, ensuring that the end reader receives the document in the visual way you intended it to look.
  • Avoid reducing the font size and making the text very dense in order to keep to two pages. Also avoid overly complex presentation styles such as matrices and excessive use of graphics. There is nothing wrong with simple and concise dot points.

Your resume should be accompanied by a cover letter or ‘pitch document’.

Your resume should be accompanied by a cover letter or ‘pitch document’. Your pitch document is exactly that – a way for you to be short and punchy (definitely no more than two pages and preferably a page) highlighting the reason for your interest in the specific role, your fit to the specific selection criteria, and summarising your relevant skills and experience as they relate to the specific role. Note our deliberate and repeated use of the word ‘specific’. This document should be tailored on each occasion you apply for a role. A generic letter that duplicates your resume is not an effective use of the additional document you are submitting that is ultimately being read to determine if you are going to be shortlisted – so use the page real estate wisely.

Again simple bullet points rather than lengthy prose in small font, is a lot easier to read.

Before writing the cover letter (remembering it is your personal pitch) you should read the selection criteria thoroughly, and research the company if you are not familiar with it.

If you are looking at reviewing or updating your board resume, a template for a directors’ resume can be downloaded from our website.

Directors Australia specialises in non-executive director recruitment. If you are interested in director roles you can register with us via our website so that we can consider you for suitable opportunities as they may arise.    

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