NED interview

How did I become an NED? My experience applying for roles

How did I become a Non-Executive Director (NED)? This is a question that most of us budding non-executives seeking to build a portfolio have asked ourselves. In fact, that exact question was raised in the Financial Times’ career advice column “Dear Jonathan” last month. 

In the comments column, readers have made various points, some of which are useful, some quite brutal. 

Focussing on the useful comments, a couple of people recommend joining Transpire Global for the support, coaching and networking, which is great, Others recommend using Nurole to search for roles. I wanted to share my experience in the hope of helping aspiring NEDs or existing NEDs that are looking for additional roles.

My experiencing finding NED roles

I have obtained three roles since starting my career as an NED in 2019. They all came from being contacted directly by the recruiter, but here I want to share my specific experience of applying for roles via Nurole.

The statistics are as follows: in 2020 I applied for seven roles; in 2021 I didn’t apply for any; and in 2022 I have applied for two roles (yes, already!). 

So, how have I got on? 

The first seven applications went nowhere. If you have tried using Nurole you’ll know it is quite time consuming. You have to set out your experience and achievements against several aspects of the role specification in answers that are typically 200-400 words in length. 

In 2022, my two applications have met with considerably more success than the previous year. For the first role, I was long-listed for (but not short-listed) and for the second role I have also been long-listed, and then short-listed (one of five). I have my first interview this week. 

Whether or not I get the second role is down to me and if I’m considered a complimentary fit with the other board members, but the comparative success of my 2022 applications shows that I can successfully navigate their algorithm. If I can do it, I assure you anyone can. 

Developing my approach to applying for NED roles

So, what changed between 2020 and 2022 to account for this change of fortune? Whilst I have gained two years practical experience as an NED, I am also two years further removed from my former exec career, which is all Nurole seems to be interested in. 

The only thing that has really changed is that in late 2021 I was able to get my CV reviewed through Transpire Global and made some changes on the basis of the comments I received. 

They were not wholesale changes. They included making it third person rather than first person and moving my contact details from the bottom to the top, for example. But those and a few other tweaks have made it a snappier read and it now gives a clearer idea of what type of NED I am. 

I recommend, therefore, that if you share my poor track record with Nurole or if you just feel your job hunting is in a rut, that a useful step is to talk to Transpire Global about a CV review. Clarify your message and you should manage to get more traction.

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