Tips Applying for Non Executive Director Jobs

There is an increasing trend for non-executive director (NED) positions as companies and large organisations seek to appoint talented people to executive boards with specific industry knowledge or skills expertise without having to pay a substantial remuneration package for a conventional ‘internal’ CEO or executive board position. This allows greater flexibility and for companies to benefit from specialist expertise, strategic input and decision-making at board meetings rather than making a long-term permanent appointment.

Making NED Appointments

Non-executive directors tend to have an input at board-level meetings or at key stakeholder events, typically 1-2 days per month or on a quarterly basis. NED appointments usually last 2-3 years and directly support boardroom activities rather than day-to-day decision-making. Usually, non-executive directors are not affiliated to the existing company as they need to provide objective /  impartial ‘external’ (independent) decision-making advice and top-level expertise.

Growth in NED Opportunities

This trend leads to a greater number of opportunities for executives to broaden experience and get involved with other companies, different industry sectors and gain increased exposure in the boardroom. Obviously, NED positions carry very different expectations and breaking into the NED community can be extremely difficult as executives need to be performing right at the top level. They also usually require enough wider industry-recognition or influential contacts to make an impression and be considered for NED roles. Below, we look at requirements to improve chances of being shortlisted for non-executive director positions. There are even dedicated websites specialising in finding Non-Executive Director Job Opportunities – is a typical website (link has been disabled).

High Expectations for NED Roles

Roles are often unadvertised and focus more on the individual in terms of what they can bring to an organisation going forward. This includes substantial experience and top-level credentials in leadership, strategy and consultancy combined with an exceptional track record. Experience may be varied, with industry-specific knowledge or skills gained from a different sector to bring in fresh ideas / innovative (new) ways of doing things. NEDs are normally visionary in approach as well as being established board members who understand board processes and communicate effectively. NEDs also understand how to manage complex negotiations and directly influence key stakeholders when making strategic decisions.

Writing a Non-Executive Director CV

A Non-Executive Director CV differs from a more conventional executive resume as it is based on conveying a proven track record rather than focusing on specific achievements. Throughout, resumes must convey a strong sense of achievement, proven track record and top-level skills likely to give an edge in the boardroom. Alternatively, the CV is structured slightly differently to take into account how executives can benefit organisations in NED roles.

There is a need to show a wider sphere of influence through board-level positions, mentioning career history (summarising employers and progression) and highlighting existing NED positions. There is also an emphasis on professional memberships and strong career development through executive leadership programmes, relevant courses and accreditation for instance. The non-executive director CV may be shorter (one page). However, if looking to break into the NED community some additional detail about most recent roles may be included to demonstrate clear credentials for targeting NED positions.

Networking for NED Roles

As previously mentioned, many such roles are not formally advertised. This makes it important to build a strong career track record over time, generate industry contacts and network with likeminded people. Often NED opportunities arise through personal recommendation, influential contacts, knowing someone who is capable of performing in the role or identifying someone who can bring something different to an executive board position. So, maintaining contacts, engaging with different people, attending industry events, joining associations and gaining professional memberships (accreditation) often helps with the networking process that can lead to being shortlisted for interview selection.

Targeting NED Positions: Conclusion

Non-executive director roles are becoming increasingly important and offer viable opportunities for employment. They tend not to be advertised and are only offered to people with pre-existing boardroom experience, specialist skills expertise or have exceptional leadership talent. NED roles also tend to be post-experience by securing the services of people who have been there and done it, having proved themselves over an extended period of time. High expectations of non-executive directors can mean NED roles can be difficult to secure without a wider industry presence, track record or outstanding leadership credentials. These characteristics and qualities are required when making business-critical strategic decisions or developing a long-term strategic roadmap shaping the future direction of entire organisations.


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