Are You Ready For A Board Of Directors Role?

Being on a board of directors is an incredible way to take your career to the next level, but are you ready? There are far fewer chairs open than there are eligible contenders for those positions. How do you know when you’ve come far enough to make a name for yourself and land a prestigious board position?

Here are some important considerations when assessing whether or not you’re ready to get on a board.

Do You Have Senior Management Experience?

A seat on the board isn’t an entry-level position; it’s earned through years of experience gained from hard work. Most organizations look for a minimum of 10 years executive experience to qualify for a board of directors position, and that’s just a starting point.

If you’re not there yet, don’t feel discouraged. A board is responsible for steering a ship from a high-level overview. To be able to do so well, and contribute meaningfully, you need to be able to prove that you’ve been at the helm of an organization before and understand the ins and outs, ups and downs, ebbs and flows.

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Do You Have a Fresh Perspective?

The boards of the future aren’t going to look like the boards of the past. Even if you’re not quite where you want to be career-wise doesn’t mean that you don’t have plenty to offer on a board.

Boards are also now looking for a fresh perspective on how to relate to millennials since they make up the majority of consumers, spending $600 billion annually. Someone that is younger can have the opportunity to offer a different perspective to the board if they know how to position themselves and convey the value they’d bring.

Do You Have Connections?

It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know, especially when it comes to getting on a board. While the statistics vary depending on the source, there’s no question that the majority of board appointments are a result of strong networking and connections in addition to your experience.

If you haven’t been working your networks, the time to start is now. While you certainly can apply for board positions without networking, having a connection or being able to indicate to a trusted contact that you are looking for board positions is preferable if you’re to achieve success.

Do You Have Board Experience?

I know what you’re thinking, “how can I have board experience if I’m considering joining a board?” Welcome to the problem that every new university graduate faces when they enter the job market: you need experience to get experience. What does this mean for board roles? Well, most people get their first dose of board experience by volunteering on a board of directors for a non-profit organization. That’s right! It’s the same thing we encourage the youth to do in order to start their careers: volunteer.

Most private and public companies will want to see at least two years experience on a board of some sort. An alternative to joining a non-profit board is seeking out a startup that’s looking for a board of directors. The pay might not be much better than volunteering (ie: nothing), but it is an alternative worth considering.

Do You Have the Tools for the Job?

Landing a board of directors job has many of the same requirements as starting a new career path. You’ll need to have a resume crafted specifically for this purpose. You’ll need to be able to present an impressive bio, written out in an engaging way so that people will want to meet you. A certification in board training is also a huge benefit when looking for a position.

Before you can apply to board positions, you need to have the right tools in place to showcase your experience and qualifications, and ultimately, why a board can’t afford not to hire you.

Do You Have the Characteristics for a Board Position?

Knowing if you have what it takes to be on a board takes a fair amount of self-awareness. It’s not a job that everyone will excel at, while others seem to be born for the position. To be a valuable member of a board, you need to have a good sense of judgment, understanding of the industry and marketplace, strong leadership skills, the ability to concede and leave your ego behind, and critical, strategic thinking skills.

There are other, more practical considerations as well. The main one is whether or not you have the time required to excel in a board position. It may not be a matter of whether or not you’d do well as a board member, it might be a case of if the timing is right.

Benefits of a Board

There are a lot of benefits of being on a board of directors, such as career advancement and continued education. Additionally, the extra income provides a nice nest egg if you’re nearing retirement age. If you feel that joining a board is the logical next step in your career, consider working with a coach to help you to create an actionable plan to help you reach your goals.

Meredith Wailes is the CEO of Bloom Leadership, founder of SEED, and an adviser and builder of women who impact social change. Contact her via or connect on LinkedIn to see how she can help you.

Don’t Have An MBA? You Can Still Get A Board Position

Nothing will prevent you from reaching your goals the way fear of inadequacy will. That’s exactly what holds many talented, knowledgeable individuals back from pursuing their goals and bringing value to an organization. Suffice to say, the barriers that many of my clients face are self-constructed.

One of the common misconceptions about what qualifications are required to obtain a seat on a board of directors is that you need an MBA. The truth is, there are a lot of businesses that don’t have that qualification for board members. In fact, there are plenty of private businesses looking for board members who have experience outside the traditional business environment. In this article, we’ll discover why you still have value without an MBA.

What a Company Really Needs

Companies are looking beyond educational backgrounds (though they still have a lot of merit for a candidate) and considering other benefits that a candidate can bring to an organization.

For example, a startup company might want to work with someone who has had years of experience launching startups and scaling them to success. A company that is experiencing difficulties in the face of environmental protection regulations might want someone who has experience in sustainability and environmental technology. A company that struggles to navigate the various geopolitical changes occurring every day might want a board member who has never worked in business, only in government.

A company doesn’t need a Masters’ graduate for the sake of having someone educated on the board; they need someone who has years of collective education through industry experience and continued learning. They need someone with strong collaborative skills, solid judgment, and a unique perspective to help guide the business through turbulent times.

Set Yourself Apart

To get a prestigious board position, you need to start by reshaping your mindset. Stop thinking about what you lack and focus on the bright spots that you have to offer. How can your skillset help a business thrive in the face of adversity? What insider knowledge about a certain area can you bring to help a business clear up confusion? Identify your unique combination of skills and define how they will help in a business setting.

One effective exercise for determining which aspects of your background can stand out against other candidates is to draft a personal Unique Selling Position (USP). A USP is often used in business branding to tell customers why they should spend their money with a specific business over the competition.

When applied personally, it is a strong, succinct statement that tells a hiring committee who you are, your greatest strength, and why they’ll want you over anyone else. It’s designed not only to tell a business why you should be on their board, but it should subtly convey why they don’t want you to be with the competition.

Finally, it’s not enough to have experience and education if you can’t work with other people. Strong leadership skills are essential, but so is the ability to follow. Being able to speak your mind and challenge leadership is crucial, but so is the ability to be democratic and collaborative with your fellow board members. Many board candidates get so caught up in their years of experience that they fail to address the traits and skills that bolster those accolades.

Changing World, Changing Needs

The world is always changing, which means that businesses must adapt or face extinction. More companies are finding that despite not being in the tech industry, much of their focus is being redirected to tech-related issues. Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance recently, with high-profile data breaches making headlines.

As a result, more businesses are looking to include tech experts on their board. These individuals often have experience in computer science, programming, and the software life cycle rather than a traditional business background. Having these individuals on a board can add tremendous value as the business tries to stay abreast of upcoming trends and regulations surrounding data protection.

Lifelong government employees are also successfully making the transition to board placements, despite not having an MBA. Similarly to the technology experts, these professionals are able to get ahead of changing regulations and circumvent new tariffs and shipping bans to keep businesses profitable.

In summation, businesses are realizing that doing things the way they’ve always done them is no longer enough.

How to Get on a Board

If you don’t have an MBA, consider working with a board placement service and coach to help you showcase yourself in the best possible light. This service can help you ensure you have everything you need to be a competitive candidate and help you make connections to find a seat on a board. With coaching, you can reframe your mindset about what you lack and focus instead on what incredible insights and value you can bring to businesses in need of guidance.

Meredith Wailes is the CEO of Bloom Leadership, founder of SEED, and an adviser and builder of women who impact social change. Contact her or connect on LinkedIn to see how she can help you

How to Get Yourself Noticed for a Board Position

When it comes to positioning yourself for a board position, there are steps you can take to become more noticeable. First, you must have a well-crafted resume and bio that you can deliver after informing your network that you’re looking for a board position. Working with a placement agency and volunteering on a non-profit board can also be useful steps to take.


So what if you’ve covered the basics and you’re ready to take a deeper dive into being noticed? Here are five definitive ways you can get yourself noticed for a board position.


Become a Member of the Private Directors Association


The Private Directors Association is a network that is built to educate and connect businesses looking for board members and those looking to get a board position. This organization and those similar often offer regular information and training sessions as well as invaluable networking events. You may also receive exclusive access to subscriptions and resources that will help you leading up to and after getting a board position.


As any career professional knows, networking and continued education and dedication is what can set you apart from the competition and help you reach your goals. The Private Director’s association is an effective way to make that happen.


Use Board Ready Executives to Market Yourself


Board Ready Executives is a marketing platform that will allow you to showcase your skills and availability to interested organizations that are looking for keen board candidates. By uploading your bio and resume, you’ll be able to show interested parties that you’re committed to finding a board position.


Use this platform to highlight your strengths and skill sets that set you apart from your competition. This platform is set to launch in January 2019.


Write Articles on LinkedIn


Believe it or not, LinkedIn hasn’t completely diminished into a platform where people are constantly trying to sell you things. Rather, it remains an effective way for you to passively sell yourself. By posting articles about your experience and sharing helpful information from your personal perspective, you can show board recruiters and company contacts what you’re made of. By posting a combination of personally published articles and long-form statuses, you can optimize the platform’s algorithm so that your reach, and thus your audience, expands exponentially.


More organizations are using social media as a way to learn about their candidates and vet potential candidates for open positions. Recruiters often use LinkedIn specifically to find hidden talent.


Reading and Research


Keep up to date on the business world and the shifting landscape of company boards by reading articles from the aforementioned Private Directors Association as well as Directors and Boards to stay informed. This acts not only as a form of continuing education, but also a way to keep ahead of changing trends and change your approach accordingly. Furthermore, it will give you strong, relevant discussion points to discuss on social media.


Showcase Your Circle of Influence


Have you ever heard of the six degrees of separation? The idea is that the world is so interconnected and accessible, that by using the “friend-of-a-friend” mentality to things, you’re never more than six introductions away from anyone in the world. This concept became a popular topic of conversation in the early Millennium when the internet had fun identifying how everyone actually knows Kevin Bacon.


Having a strong network is one of the top things companies notice when looking for a board member. In fact, there may be someone within your circle of influence looking for a candidate right now.


Write a list of who you know, then extend it by listing people they know. Expand this list as far as you can and make your network known. Follow the various channels and see what (or who) you can find-- it might be your next board position.


Enthusiasm and Dedication Matter


Yes, your background and experience play a significant role in landing a board position. However, your continued enthusiasm and dedication to the process could make the difference between getting a position in your dream company and in a timely fashion.


Be willing to put yourself out there and make your voice heard. That is how you will get yourself noticed for a board position.


Meredith Wailes is the CEO of Boom Leadership, founder of SEED, and an adviser and builder of women who impact social change. Contact her via or connect on LinkedIn to see how she can help you.