I spent last couple of nights reading the whole bunch of documents submitted by board-ready candidates. Sifting through pages and pages (and pages) of material made me very aware that there is obviously not enough guidance on what to put in and how to structure the required documents.

Competencies document
Please don’t bother explaining what leadership (or tactics or strategy) is. Trust me, everyone who will read the document understands what it is, why it is important and what the pitfalls are. Also, don’t explain what your role or job description required from you in the given competency – it will not show that you actually do have it – it will just show that the organization you work for would *like* you to have it. To round-up the picture, please don’t write about what you know regarding the competencies and what you can/could do – this is not what a reviewer will look for.

Think of the competencies document as an extension of your CV – describing specific facts or actions regarding each required competency. So, instead of talking how mentoring is important part of leadership that you practice, give several cases of mentoring: when did you mentor whom? How did you do it? What were the results?

Technology depth
In case you missed it, we are asking for an expertise in a technology, not a product! Active directory or Exchange is not a viable competency for an infrastructure candidate. Identity, Directories or Messaging – name something that spans more than one product. And don’t name more than two of them – trust me, you’ll get hammered on each of the technologies you claim. You have to be able to explain different vendors in your selected technology space, compare their implementations and architectures, explain the future, limitations, alternatives and core strengths. Select carefully and get ready – the ride through the depth of selected technology is very thorough and often quite rough.

Case study document
Think hard when you are selecting your case study - you must be able to defend the case end-to-end, even if you were personally involved only in one portion of the project. It is irrelevant if you didn’t participate in the requirements-gathering phase or if somebody else is doing the operations and maintenance of the presented solution. You must understand the lifecycle of your case – it is *your* case after all! You must prove your leadership, strategy, tactics, organizational dynamics, communications and technology expertise on the submitted case. If your case covers just portions of that, be prepared to be investigated on the missing pieces.

It is all in the preparation – some review boards can be as easy as spring breeze while others are rough drag through the quarry.