Job search tip: serving on a board

June 2nd 2015 in Uncategorized

Serving on a board can open the door to unadvertised job opportunities. If you had a nickel for every time someone said “It’s not what you know but who you know,” you probably wouldn’t need a job, would you?

U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics indicate that approximately 50 percent of jobs are filled by word of mouth, and anecdotal evidence suggests that figure could be much higher.

So how do you gain access to this insider track of unadvertised positions? Serving on a board is a great way to get out there and be known.

Many organizations, particularly nonprofits, are eager to make use of the talents of a skilled professional. And unlike volunteering, which is still a great way to network, serving on a board of directors puts you in touch with a broader variety of community leaders and upper-level managers who know a lot of people in a lot of companies.

As this article in Forbes describes, there are some steps that go into finding and being invited to join a board. But the work doesn’t end there; once you’ve landed a spot, you need to do more than fill a chair to get noticed.

Show up. First, it’s vital to keep your word and your commitments—not doing so can damage your credibility. Treat this responsibility and honor just as you would a job. Be at meetings, and be there on time.

Introduce yourself. If the chairman of your board doesn’t make introductions to the group at your first meeting, try to arrive early next time and make small talk over coffee. Stay after and help clean up. And cookies truly can make the world go round; bring a batch of assorted gourmet treats to earn instant recognition.

Be sure your elevator speech is polished for that introduction. Remain positive, confident and upbeat as you describe what you did (or do, if you’re still employed) and what you hope to do or learn. Be clear that you’re actively seeking a new job or personal growth in a new field with an eye to a career change.

Speak up. A big part of serving on a board is sharing your perspective and ideas. This is your time to shine! Do your homework first, and when the discussion begins, offer some solid direction to move the issue at hand forward.

Dress to impress. Look the part of the position you hope to gain, even if you’re coming to the board meeting from yoga class. (There’s a changing room at the studio, right?)

Go deeper. Often there’s a need for those serving on a board to take on a committee leadership role. If it involves a skill or talent that you have or want to gain, raise your hand! Playing a concrete part in a project that gets results will not only win the attention of your fellow board members, but it also gives you one more thing to talk about on your resume, on LinkedIn and in interviews.

Be on the ready. Keep your personal business cards handy in case a fellow board member offers to put you in touch or write a referral or testimonial.

Serving on a board is a great way to gain valuable diversified experience, as well as to meet the people who hold the keys to many of the “hidden” jobs out there. Explore how giving back to your community or a cause can give you access to a big world of job opportunities!


Photo by sixninepixels,

Serving on a board can open the door to unadvertised job opportunities.

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