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Common Errors During the Board-Level Job Search

There are multiple methods to source and secure non-executive roles, though there are common errors that must be considered before applying to ensure you excel during the selection process.

To support you in your non-executive journey, we have reviewed the most common pitfalls that professionals face in their job search.

Before application

Neglecting nurturing your personal brand

You must first consider whether or not you’re fully prepared to enter the recruitment process. Before applying for any board role, it is vital you don’t discount the importance of developing your non-executive brand to cast yourself in the best possible light. Getting yourself to a board-ready position and persona will communicate to hiring organisations that you are prepared and qualified to excel in the role.

Whilst a variety of competencies are required in a board role, be specific on what skills you want to be known for and communicate what your subject matter expertise is. Hiring organisations will search for keywords related to those desired competencies in your application, so ensure you make your unique skill set stand out to reach board vacancies that relate to your brand, skills and knowledge.

The mindset of a non-executive also differs from that required within an executive role. Undertaking an independent role involves a change in style, temperament and approach compared to the day-to-day focus of an executive position. Take some time to review your leadership style and how this might have to be altered when undertaking non-executive duties.

Failing to tailor your application documentation

A tailored board CV, cover letter and online presence should not be overlooked in any board application. Once you have refined your personal brand, your application documentation should portray how your accomplishments are relevant to a board role. This requires a different template, focused language and a heavy emphasis on your transferable skills.

Consider enlisting a professional to help you create a bespoke, standout CV that is optimised for applicant tracking systems. This is often overlooked by those transitioning to board roles, as senior professionals often underestimate the difficulty of translating executive experience. Many of our members have taken expert support and advice on creating standout application documents and achieved great success at interviews.

Finding the role

Not having a detailed and actionable networking strategy

Updating your online presence is extremely valuable as recruiters will nearly always review the information in your profile as a first approach. Ensuring your online presence is current and fresh can also increase your chances of being headhunted for a board role, though this way of sourcing a job is unusual for non-executive roles. Searching online for vacancies is a good method to increase your understanding of the competencies that are currently in demand and to find organisations that take your interest, though the most common way of sourcing a board role is through your network.

Having a thorough networking strategy can open the doors to a multitude of opportunities. Attending virtual events, enhancing your LinkedIn activity and sending your tailored NED CV to influential members of your network are all proactive techniques to deepen and expand your connections, all of which increase your chances of referral.

When applying

Ignoring key components in the job description

Analysing job descriptions thoroughly ensures that you pick out the keywords which you can integrate into your application. This not only highlights your suitability for the role, but also means that your CV is less likely to be discarded by applicant tracking systems. It is also beneficial to research what competencies their current non-executive directors hold through LinkedIn and on the company website, allowing you to differentiate yourself.

By finding gaps in their expertise, alongside highlighting similarities, you can demonstrate the value you would add, as well as position yourself as a compatible candidate.

Jumping ahead

Embarking on a board career or deciding it’s time to expand your portfolio can be a defining part of your career journey, though there is a danger in being too enthusiastic when starting to send off applications.

Securing a board role can take time. For hiring organisations, finding a suitable non-executive professional is a complex task due to the chosen candidate having significant responsibilities concerning the overall success of the company. For candidates, taking into account the factors above to avoid oversight of vital steps can be a lengthy but vital process. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t receive a response or your application is rejected. Reconsider your strategy and push forward along your journey to the boardroom.

To discuss how we can support you in your non-executive job search, book a call with one of our experts here.

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