Get to Board: The Role of Board Search Firms

A large chunk of Independent Directors’ appointments continue thru personal contacts of promoters and NRC members partly for their personal comfort and also to avoid any search firm fee, particularly for smaller companies. While Nifty 100 and MNCs often avail the services of search firms, it is the highly professional firms, Unicorn startups, PE Funds, and VCs who more often engage the services of Board Search firms. The search firms understand not only the requirements of the board but also understand the cultural context of the company and finds candidates that match such specification to the T. A good search firm will be able to find the perfect talent that might otherwise be considered inaccessible as they might be in a secured position elsewhere.

There are three kinds of search firms – recruitment firms, search firms, and board search firms. Recruitment firms are hired by companies for entry-level to mid-level positions. Search firms are hired by companies for mid-level to senior-level positions. Their hiring is based on a definite profile that includes the background of the candidate, the type of experience he has, and his behavioural aspects.

Board search firms are hired by companies that want to appoint executive or non-executive board members. While they focus on the qualifications and work experience of a candidate, they are most interested to ensure that the candidates they recommend are a better cultural fit and are well-networked.

Board search firms often specialise in specific streams. Agents usually have extensive networks in the vertical they specialize in. It is in these networks that they reach out to potential candidates for the positions they have been hired to fill.

What makes board search firms different is the personal engagement of the key partners in the search, while they delegate other searches to professionals in the team, board search is handled directly by the partners as partly the assignments are few, highly confidential, and very critical in nature and also for scanning the candidates for cultural fit.


What to Keep in Mind as a Board Aspirant

  1. Board Search Firms Are Hired by Companies, Not You 

The most important thing to remember is that the board search firms are looking for people to fill a position. They are not looking for opportunities for you. So, when a board search firm approaches you for a position, be your best advocate. Remind the recruiter why you are the best candidate for the job, why you should be shortlisted, and why you are the perfect fit.

  1. Set Yourself Apart 

Companies rely heavily on the recommendations of the board search firms. You are one of the many candidates they are reaching out to. You must make a conscious effort to stand out in the crowd of applicants.

  1. Make the Interview Count

So, as you would prepare for a Board interview, you must be prepared for a recruiter interview. Put in front of the recruiter the reasons why you should make their list of recommendations. Elaborate on how you are a cultural fit. Tell them with conviction why your interests and goals align with the company that is hiring. When the interview is done, your answers should resonate with the recruiter.

  1. Keep an Impressive Non-executive CV Ready

A productive board CV must effectively highlight your strengths, expertise, and values. All information must be displayed clearly. LINK:CLICK HERE to learn about writing a good board CV.  

  1. Importance of Personal Branding and Networking

Board search partners are discreet individuals and are difficult to get hold of your normal networking events or social media platforms. You may not have direct access to these partners, but most firms list their partners and advisors on their websites. The best way to make a mark is to find a connection. One must follow them on networking websites such as LinkedIn.

When you manage to meet a partner finally, ensure that your interactions are pleasant and not overbearing. Offering your services (expertise) and helping to connect with other people will keep the relationship active.

As a board aspirant, it is of utmost importance to have your own personal brand. Your views, your associations, and your achievements all contribute to building your personal brand. A board position tends to propel one into the public eye, so avoid making statements or engaging in activities that can adversely affect your personal brand.


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