Top Non-Executive Director (NED) roles aren’t easy to come by and the first step to being noticed is to get your CV right.
You might have spent years polishing your executive-level CV and feel proud of what it’s become. If so, that’s a great asset, but it’s going to need an overhaul to win you NED work.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to get your NED CV right. See it as a sales document that outlines your proposition and the value that you can bring to the business.
Once you’re happy with your NED CV, you’ll also need to spend time building your wider public profile. Businesses want to see that you’re active and engaged in your subject area and your public profile should position you as a key figure in your network.
Read on for a step-by-step guide to creating your NED CV and top tips on how to build your public profile.
How does an NED CV differ from any other CV?
Your NED or Board CV needs a completely different approach to your executive CV.
Think about it in terms of past versus future. Your executive CV is all about what you’ve already done, whereas your Board CV is about what you can bring to the Board and how you can add value going forward.
What do companies want to see in your CV?
“When recruiting NEDs, companies are looking for solutions to their problems,” says Transpire Founder and CEO Tony Stubbs. “They may be seeking to enter a new market or needing to deliver an ESG strategy for example, and want someone with experience of doing that.”
It’s not enough to simply list your skills and experience. Make your CV stand out by being clear about what questions or problems you can help them solve.
Show that you understand the most important qualities for an NED, and provide evidence that you have them. Pepper your CV with examples of big achievements that are specific and relevant to the business you’re applying to.
- Leadership qualities: Being on the Board involves setting company strategy, making difficult decisions and challenging the management team – what’s your approach?
- Business acumen: If you’re appointed in the role you’ll need to get to grips with the business quickly: show that you understand financial reporting, performance monitoring and shareholder and stakeholder engagement
- Networking abilities: Do you have the right contacts and networking abilities to help the organisation to make strategic new connections?
- Industry experience: What unique experience and insight of the industry can you offer that others can’t?
- Commitment to the organisation’s mission and goals: Tailor your CV to show that your values align with those of the business you’re applying to
What to include in an NED CV
“There are lots of opinions on CV formats,” explains Tony. “The very best Board CVs are short – two pages tops – and concise. You need to quickly communicate all the necessary information so every word counts!”
Your CV should include the following elements:
- A short profile
Start with a profile paragraph that includes your professional objective and a positioning statement with clear, simple explanations of what you’ve done and what you can do.
- Key strategic skills
Your profile should be followed by a statement of what your key strategic skills are, ideally supported by factual information.
Tony says this section is crucial for grabbing the interest of the reader. “You have five to 10 seconds to engage them. If they’re not interested by the time they’ve got to the middle of the first page, chances are it’ll go into the wrong pile!”
- Career history
Present this on page two as a chronological, reverse order career history with no gaps.
- Board-level experience
Include a statement of any current or recent Board or advisory roles. Be clear about what the role was, such as executive or non-executive roles on a Board, company secretariat or observer seats on a Board.
If you’ve been on any subcommittees, like Audit, Remuneration or Nominations, mention this too.
Any experience you have near Board level (exec minus one) can also be included. For example, pitching or consulting to the Board, charity trustee roles or being involved in startup Boards.
- Wider information
For the balance of page two, include information about your professional and educational qualifications, awards and memberships. It’s also important to cover your interests to help to bring your NED CV alive and communicate the real you.
How to build your wider profile as an NED
As a potential NED, you’re effectively trying to break into a new market with a new product – you! Just as with any other product, you need a strategy and marketing plan.
Use your network
“Think about the key people in your network,” says Tony. “This might include people who’ve acted in a mentoring or coaching capacity for you, people for whom you’ve been a coach or mentor and people you’ve enjoyed working with. These are the people who can do a lot of your promotion for you.”
This should include sharing your updates on LinkedIn, so they’re seen by a wider audience and to show you’re engaged with your industry.
They may also be able to offer you speaker slots at events or have other platforms that you could contribute to, such as blogs and podcasts. This all helps to build your professional profile and shapes the impression that people will get when they look for you online.
Transpire’s community is a great place to build this network and meet like-minded NEDs. Find out more about joining here.
Build your LinkedIn profile
Anyone considering you for a NED role, whether a recruiter or the Chair or CEO of a business or charity, will look you up on LinkedIn.
It’s vital that your LinkedIn profile mirrors your CV, albeit in a more informal style. You have more space here, so go into further detail about important roles and experience.
Remember to make use of the endorsements and recommendations sections by reaching out to recognisable names you’ve worked with and asking them to add a contribution to your profile.
Posting regularly on LinkedIn also strengthens your profile and helps to show recruiters what interests you on a professional level.