The aim of this article is to give some important tips for writing a non-executive director CV covering advertised and non-advertised non-executive director positions. The structure of a non-executive director CV is very different from a normal CEO, board-level or company director resume. There are very different expectations for people being considered for NED positions given the importance of having specific industry knowledge or exceptional leadership qualities to make a difference in the boardroom. NED resumes are based on conveying an overall track record, specialist skills / expertise, industry knowledge or bringing something new to a boardroom by giving a different dimension or innovative approach to top-level decision-making.
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Structuring Non-Executive Director CV
There is no formal structure, correct rule or approach for writing NED resumes, though there are some important observations to note and the way sections are ordered may differ slightly from a conventional CV. Moreover, resumes for non-executive director positions can be shorter (one page) as it is more top-level by highlighting an overall track record, career progression and key achievements rather than going into massive detail.
- Contact Details – make sure contact information is accurate and updated
- Summary profile (1) – needs to convey how candidates can benefit organisations in NED roles
- Summary profile (2) – include some top-level (outstanding) achievements to gain interest
- Career Progression – list job titles, companies and dates to show a strong record of progression
- Describe existing NED roles – often non-executive directors have a portfolio of NED positions
- Professional Development – key memberships, executive leadership programmes and courses
- Outline current role – to give more details about responsibilities, achievements and expertise
Breaking into NED Positions
This assumes no existing NED experience or roles.
Summary Profile Advice: The nature of the CV will change, especially if executives are looking to break into the NED community and have no previous experience in these roles. This often means talking slightly more about achievements and what candidates can bring to non-executive director positions in the summary profile. This sets the agenda and gets the person reading the CV interested and persuades them to read on. It is important to convey top-level credentials and achievements likely to stand out from others.
Career Progression: The emphasis will change by focusing on showing an exemplary track record of career progression in a clear summary, with job titles, employers and dates to make up for a lack of existing NED roles. Mention committee memberships or steering groups instead to make up for any perceived lack of formal NED experience.
Professional development: This is a good differentiator, so it is important to mention professional memberships, executive leadership programmes and specialist / industry-specific training, courses and accreditation. This adds considerable value and reinforces NED credentials.
Selling Current Role: Greater emphasis may be required in a non-executive director CV for current and most previous roles to demonstrate clear credentials in strategic decision-making, leadership or consultancy expertise. Going into some extra detail may take the CV onto a second page, but it gives an opportunity to confidently sell credentials, achievements, skills, expertise, programme leadership and decision-making rationale using excellent examples.
Mentioning Previous Roles: For older roles it is not so important as recruiters are only interested in what candidates are doing now or in most recent roles. Keep it mainly to the current role, plus one previous role and then summarise the rest. Keep it simple, especially as a career and progression summary has already been outlined on the first page.
Writing an Non-Executive Director CV: Conclusion
Often non-executive director positions carry with them a whole different range of expectations and so with the CV can be adapted to suit NED roles. The non-executive director cv is structured to summarise top-level experience across a portfolio of activities, experiences and career progression. However, if unable to create a formal non-executive director CV because of a perceived lack of top-level experience, we encourage candidates to apply using their existing resumes and see what happens. As long as the CV is of a high specification and makes an impression, then there is still a chance of being considered. After all, it is very much about the person, their unique blend of skills and what they can offer which needs to be conveyed effectively when applying for non-exec director jobs.