Have you decided that your next career move should be to a board level executive or non-executive director role? If you can demonstrate strategic, cross-sector experience, a strong professional network and intellectual curiosity, it could be a highly advantageous step. But, does your CV reflect your seniority and breadth of experience?

Making the shortlist for senior roles is a demanding process. And, the biggest mistake I see senior executives making is not strategically positioning themselves as a perfect match on their CV. Remember, you’ll only have a few seconds to make a powerful impact.

It’s challenging to summarise a long and varied career in a couple of pages. But, it’s essential you convince hirers of your transferable skills, leadership and influencer qualities and strategic multi-national or multi-sector experience. You’ll also need to ensure that it’s clear what level you’ve been operating. Boards are interested in your ability to guide strategically, rather than manage day-to-day operations.

It’s tempting to list every managerial role, successful project, skill and degree you’ve acquired. This will almost certainly result in a disjointed, rambling CV that fails to highlight your key value add. That lack of focus will send out confused messages – and that’s the last thing you can afford to do at this level.

Many busy executives also struggle to step back from their hectic schedule and take an objective, strategic view of their own career. Many understate, or fail to quantify, their accomplishments. Yet, it’s vital that you don’t undersell your contribution.

Writing a compelling CV for a board-level role takes time – and experience. That’s why I believe a detailed consultation with a professional CV writer really pays dividends for business leaders and experienced professionals. Here are five ways they can help you get your CV board ready.

They’ll optimise your board CV strategy   

The most critical stage of creating an executive CV starts before you put words on the page. It’s so tempting to rush straight in and start typing. But, you wouldn’t launch a marketing campaign or new business without agreeing your objectives and understanding your target audience.

It’s the same with your CV. We start by identifying your key achievements and most relevant strengths with the needs of your target audience in mind. We ensure you can answer the question, “Why me?” clearly and concisely.

They help you craft tailored and effective messages

Years ago, your CV could simply be a well-presented, error-free list of your job titles and responsibilities. Now, your CV is a marketing document or business case. It needs to highlight your value proposition and focus on tangible, quantified results achieved, rather than roles and projects undertaken.

Princeton University researchers have identified the best way for professionals to introduce themselves to people (whether face-to-face or in writing). Don’t simply list facts – because they lack context. Instead, tap into people’s emotions, and influence their decision-making, by describing your personal career trajectory.

An executive CV writer will be able to craft these messages in a compelling way. They’ll ensure your unique traits and abilities, across disciplines from financial control and risk management to innovation and corporate governance, are built into an individual narrative.

They’ll help you write a succinct elevator pitch

As with networking or pitching to a new client or potential investor, it’s vital that your CV makes an excellent first impression. In just two or three sentences, your executive summary must make it abundantly clear that you are a perfect match for the role. You’ll need to focus on where you can add value and stay relevant to the target area. Include years of experience and summarise your specific expertise.

If you are seeking a non-executive post, are you on any boards or committees (or have been in the past) then say so. Have you sat on an industry association committee? Are you a school governor? Have you advised a board or reported to a board? Include this proxy board experience to show you understand how a board functions.

They’ll tailor your CV to each opportunity

You can’t get away with having one generic CV for every role. Your accomplishments, skills and results won’t change, but you will need to shape those elements into a different narrative for each opportunity.

There are also some specific differences between exec and non-exec CVs. For an executive leadership role, the focus in normally on boosting the bottom line, so we would highlight key commercial impacts and the ability to deliver. However, with a NED, it’s more about guiding, steering and advising with a focus on governance and directing corporate transformation.

ready for the board

They can help you develop your personal brand

Your LinkedIn profile is just as important as your CV (90% of hirers will research you online before an interview). LinkedIn can be less formal than your CV and it gives you opportunities to present more of your personality, professional interests and build your network and industry influence. Your networks and connections are part of your value-add to the board.  

Remember, although CVs are presented in a chronological format, their purpose is not to simply explain what you’ve achieved in your career. The objective is to convince the reader why you are the perfect person for a particular executive opportunity. At this level, that means you have to identify and validate your USP – and articulate it in a unique and compelling way.

Next Steps

City CV offers The Works – an end-to-end solution to drive your board career forward. If you would like to discuss The Works or any of our non -executive packages call us on 020 7100 6656 or email us.