How to Impress a Board Recruiter: A guide

how to impress board recruiters

You probably already know that board recruiters may hold the key to your most prized board position. They play a crucial role in selecting candidates to interview and appoint. Knowing how to impress a board recruiter can significantly boost your chances of gaining a board seat. In today’s fiercely competitive board appointment landscape, standing out is essential. But what does it take to truly impress a board recruiter? Well, it’s not just about your qualifications and experience; it’s about making an indelible mark. Leaving a positive impression with a board recruiter can open doors to valuable networking opportunities and potential future board appointments.

Previously I discussed why you need to impress board recruiters, and now, I will share some strategies on how to impress board recruiters. Get ready to unlock unparalleled opportunities as I reveal how you make a great first and ongoing impression.

Understanding the Role of a Board Recruiter

Board recruiters are crucial in identifying and evaluating potential candidates for board positions for their clients. Their primary responsibility is to assess candidates’ qualifications, experience, skills, and fit with the organization’s needs and culture. Therefore, it is essential to grasp the key aspects of their role in the board recruiting process:

    • Identifying and Evaluating Candidates: Board recruiters utilize their extensive networks and industry knowledge to find suitable candidates for board roles on behalf of their clients. They actively search for individuals who possess the necessary expertise, diversity, and value that can contribute to the organization.

    • Assessing Qualifications: When evaluating candidates, board recruiters carefully review their qualifications. This includes examining their educational background, professional achievements, leadership experience, and relevant certifications.

    • Evaluating Experience: Besides qualifications, recruiters assess candidates’ experience in similar roles or industries. They look for individuals who have demonstrated success in executive positions, board positions, or relevant expertise aligning with the organization’s goals.

    • Finding Suitable Candidates: Board recruiters may work independently or collaborate with recruitment firms or executive search agencies, commonly known as headhunters. These partnerships enable them to tap into larger talent pools and access a broader range of potential board candidates.

    • Selecting Valuable Individuals: The ultimate goal of board recruiters is to select individuals who will bring value to the board of their clients. This includes considering factors such as diverse perspectives, unique skill sets, and industry-specific knowledge that can contribute to strategic decision-making processes.

Understanding the role of a board recruiter is essential for those seeking board positions. By comprehending how these professionals operate within the recruiting process, candidates can navigate the selection process more efficiently.

Key Strategies for Impressing Board Recruiters

You should consider several key strategies to stand out and impress board recruiters. Following these tips can increase your chances of making a lasting impression and securing that coveted board position.

    • Do your homework: Before engaging with a board recruiter at any time, whether to introduce yourself or to enquire about a board opportunity, stop and prepare. A part of their role is to talk to as many people as possible, just like you. So, you must be memorable for the right reasons. Review their LinkedIn profile to gain insight into the person you will be talking to. Finding common ground with a board recruiter can be key to having genuine conversations with them. You can grab their attention by mentioning shared interests or experiences and ensure they remember you.

    • Research before submitting: Conduct thorough research before submitting a board application or attending a board interview with a board recruiter. Your research should include the organization, the board, the industry, current priorities and challenges. This will help you understand the specific needs of the board position you are applying for. By doing so, you can demonstrate a genuine interest in their work, your understanding of the goals of the prospective board and how you can contribute to their success.

    • Tailor your board application materials: Board recruiters are time-poor, so to impress, firstly, you must provide them with both a Board CV and Board Cover Letter. Your executive resume is not sufficient, and if anything providing one will show your lack of commitment to the board role. Secondly, your Board CV / Board Resume and cover letter must be customized to highlight relevant skills and experiences that align with the organization’s needs (selection criteria) and the board role they are recruiting for. Make it clear why you are an ideal fit for the board role.

    • Articulate your Board Value Position: Know your Board Value Position (BVP) and be able to articulate it. Highlight your relevant expertise that directly addresses the challenges and goals of the board. Emphasize how your unique background can contribute to their success. Be sure to provide concrete examples or anecdotes that showcase your abilities at a strategic level.

    • Emphasize specific accomplishments: When discussing your previous roles, highlight specific accomplishments and outcomes that showcase your contributions. By quantifying achievements or describing successful group projects, provide concrete evidence of your abilities.

    • Highlight sought-after transferable skills: Emphasize transferable skills such as strategic planning, financial analysis, risk management, or governance expertise that hold value in a board setting.

    • Emphasize board or committee experience: The board recruiter’s reputation is on the line. As a result, they will take comfort in candidates with relevant experience or who have done the job before. Even if gained through volunteer work, any prior involvement in boards or committees must be highlighted. It showcases your familiarity with the dynamics of board-level discussions and decision-making processes.

    • Demonstrate passion through involvement: Showcasing your passion for the organization, industry, or cause will impress the board recruiter and the board itself. Highlight any active involvement with the organizations or initiatives. This demonstrates that you are knowledgeable and passionate about serving on a board.

Following these steps will help increase your chances of impressing board recruiters and landing that coveted board seat.

Nurture but do Not Annoy

Maintaining regular contact with a board recruiter is essential once you have established a relationship with them. However, it is crucial to strike a balance between staying in touch and being overly persistent.

Simple ways to maintain contact include

    • sending a prompt thank you email after an interview expressing gratitude for the opportunity to interview and reiterating your interest in serving on the board,

    • requesting feedback after an unsuccessful board application or interview,

    • sending them links to articles or events that you believe would capture their attention,

    • engaging with them on LinkedIn,

    • providing updates when there are changes in your professional roles or board CV.

Even if no board opportunities are available at the time, staying connected demonstrates your professionalism, reinforces your commitment and increases the likelihood of hearing from them in the future.

A word of warning, this approach does require balance. You do not want to be perceived as needy or annoying. The goal here is not to be their best friend but to have them genuinely rate you as a solid board candidate that they must have on their books. You want them to think of you first and recommend you to their clients when board opportunities arise.

Conclusion: Key Takeaways to Impress a Board Recruiter

Impressing a board recruiter requires a strategic approach and careful consideration of your skills, experience, and board value position. By understanding the role of a board recruiter and implementing key strategies, you can position yourself to be noticed and remembered by a board recruiter. Your approach must not be just about skills and experience but also about showcasing your personality and fit within the board or organization you aspire to. Be authentic, confident and enthusiastic.

When having these conversations, you need to be prepared to be asked, “What type of board roles are you looking for?” You must be clear about what types of board roles you wish to obtain and the organizations you aspire to. You need to know your value at board level, and you need to articulate it via your Board Pitch. During my Board Appointment Coaching Program, I will comprehensively show you how to do this and more.

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About the Author

David Schwarz is CEO & Founder of Board Appointments. He has over a decade of experience in putting people on boards as an international headhunter and recruiter. He has interviewed hundreds of directors and placed hundreds into some of the most significant public, private and NFP director roles in the world.

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  1. Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is useful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. After reading your blog, definitely I would like to be an Independent Director in any Public limited and listed companies as approved by SEBI in India. I have qualified the online proficiency self assessment test being conducted by Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) working under the aegis of Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

    1. Congratulations. Our Board Appointment Coaching Program PLUS will definitely help you find and apply for Independent Director roles.