Tips for Writing a Non-Executive Director CV

Tips for Writing a Non-Executive Director CV

A non-executive director (NED) is a member of a company's board who is not involved in the day-to-day running of the company, instead providing independent oversight, constructive challenge and strategic advice to the executive team. NEDs are increasingly in demand, as issues such as corporate governance, sustainability, DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), reputation & risk, and stakeholder management come to the fore, issues for which executive boards can be under-resourced and under-skilled to deal with. 

For those pursuing an NED career, these marked differences in responsibilities and areas of expertise from those of an executive should be reflected in their job search collateral, including both online resources (such as LinkedIn profiles) and more traditional assets such as CVs, cover letters and professional summaries. For aspiring non-executives it can be tempting to fresh your executive CV when applying for board roles but this is a very ill-advised move. An executive CV will focus more heavily on role-specific qualities and experience (i.e a proven track record as an FD in FMCG) whereas a NED CV should have a broader strategic approach (provided financial strategy and oversight to senior teams). NED CVs should focus as much on transferable qualities and skills such as independence of thought and the ability to influence and advise, while still using your executive skill set as a foundation for your suitability for the role.

Research before writing NED CV

Researching a non-executive role before applying is crucial for understanding the organisation, its dynamics, and how you can add value. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to conduct thorough research:

Study the Company: Begin by thoroughly researching the company's background, including its history, mission, vision, and values. Look for recent news articles, press releases, and company publications to understand its current standing and direction.

Review Financial Performance: Analyse the company's financial reports, if available, to gain insights into its profitability, revenue trends, and financial health. Understanding the financial performance will help you assess the organisation's stability and potential for growth.

Explore the Board of Directors: Familiarise yourself with the current board of directors, their backgrounds, expertise, and tenure. This information will help you understand the composition of the board and identify any gaps where your skills and experience could be valuable.

Understand the Industry and Market: Research the industry and market in which the company operates. Identify competitors, market trends, challenges, and opportunities. Understanding the broader industry landscape will enable you to provide informed perspectives during board discussions.

Assess Governance Practices: Evaluate the company's governance structure, policies, and practices. Look for information on board committees, board meeting frequency, governance frameworks, and regulatory compliance. Understanding the governance landscape will help you assess your potential role and responsibilities as a non-executive director.

Engage with Stakeholders: Reach out to current or former employees, industry professionals, or stakeholders who may have insights into the company's operations and culture. Networking with individuals connected to the organisation can provide valuable perspectives and information that may not be readily available through public sources.

Utilise Online Resources: Make use of online platforms such as Companies House, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and industry-specific databases to gather information about the company, its leadership, and its reputation.

By conducting comprehensive research, you'll be well-equipped to tailor your application, demonstrate your understanding of the organisation, and articulate how you can contribute as a non-executive director.

Structure & Components of a Non-Executive Director CV

• Header: Contact information, professional title, and links (e.g., LinkedIn).

• Professional Summary: An overview of your qualifications and value proposition.

• Board and Leadership Experience: A chronological list of your most relevant and

significant roles.

• Skills and Expertise: Bullet list or section detailing your core competencies.

• Education and Qualifications: Academic and professional certifications.

• References: Either listed directly or noted as available upon request.

• Optional Components: Publications, awards, and affiliations that showcase your expertise

and contributions.

You can find three NED CV templates in this blog.

Harness a powerful professional summary

Attention to detail is key when applying for NED roles, and combining your research on the company in question with your ‘template’ NEC CV is essential.  If you've spotted a role that piques your interest, it's time to gear up your application process by creating a bespoke CV (and cover letter, if required). 

One of the most important aspects of the NED CV is your Professional Summary. Sitting just below your CV header, this is the first real impression you will make on a potential employer/recruiter, so make sure that it crystallises your value and expertise. This is fundamentally your elevator pitch: a brief professional summary encapsulating your experience, skills, qualifications, and accomplishments. This succinct overview serves as an introduction to your CV, offering hiring managers a rapid glimpse into your attributes and potential contributions to the role. This summary helps hiring managers evaluate your suitability to support the organisation, so it is important that you shape the content of this section for each individual role.

A cover letter is a great way to infuse your personality and enthusiasm into your application while showcasing your grasp of the organisation's values and goals. It can also provide an opportunity to address any potential red flags in your CV, such as employment gaps or career changes.

Your CV, on the other hand, should spotlight your relevant skills and experiences, align with the role's requirements and responsibilities, and magnify your accomplishments. Remember, it's essential to embody the qualities expected of a strategic non-executive rather than those of an operational executive.

Craft each cover letter and CV tailored to the specific role you're pursuing. Simply regurgitating the role description won't cut it; delve deeper into the company's background, its current board members, financial standing, markets, and suppliers. This thorough understanding will help you identify areas where you can contribute and assess if the company's modus operandi aligns with your career goals.

Leverage resources like Companies House and LinkedIn to gain insights into your potential employer, which you can incorporate into both your CV and interviews. Some prospective non-executive directors even opt for an informal chat with a board member before applying. This not only provides valuable information but also positions you as an engaged and proactive candidate in the board's memory.

You can find a template NED CV along with guidance and tips, which you can adapt for each application. Remember, there are various CV styles to choose from, so selecting the right one for you is pivotal. If you're keen to delve deeper into the job search process for board roles, the Connectd Academy offers 10 modules dedicated to this topic.

Highlight Your Skills and Expertise

Especially as a first-time NED, it can be a little difficult to skillfully position your c-suite skills within this new kind of CV. It’s worth thinking about the core skills required of NEDs (listed below) and then identifying areas or competencies that have synergy with your executive career:

  1. Strategic Thinking: understanding the long-term objectives and direction of an organisation. 
  1. Governance Knowledge: a strong understanding of regulations, and best practices to ensure that the organisation operates with integrity, transparency, and accountability.
  1. Financial Acumen: interpretation of financial statements, assessing financial peibilities.
  1. Problem-Solving Abilities: analyse complex issues, evaluate alternatives, and make informed decisions in the best interests of the organisation. 
  1. Adaptability and Learning Agility: adaptable and continuously updating their skills and knowledge, open to learning new concepts and embracing change.
  1. Leadership and Influence: exert influence through leadership qualities, persuasion, and ability to drive consensus.
  1. Recruiting organisations will be looking for practical examples of your ability to embody the qualities and behaviours of a non-executive, so providing situational examples can be incredibly valuable when applying for roles.rformance, and understanding key financial metrics.
  1. Risk Management: identify and assess risks facing the organisation, including strategic, operational, financial, and regulatory risks.
  1. Industry Expertise: Relevant industry knowledge and experience to assist in strategic decision-making and identifying growth opportunities.
  1. Interpersonal Skills: Effective communication, collaboration, and relationship-building skills.

As always, it’s important that you identify which of these skills are especially important and relevant to the specific start-up (and its wider sector) you are hoping to join, and emphasise these within your CV, summary and cover letter.

Detail Your Education and Professional Qualifications

It is important that you list all of your relevant qualifications on your NED CV. While it is certainly true that your professional experience and expertise is the thing that will have the greatest bearing on your suitability for a role, qualifications can sometimes be a dealbreaker, especially if a board has a  or knowledge gap in a particular area. 

You should list your qualifications in order of the most relevant and recent first

Professional qualifications and certifications:

[Most recent and relevant certification]


[Most recent degree level qualification or equivalent, e.g., Master of Business Administration (MBA), Bachelor of Laws (LL.B)]

Relevant training:

[Non-executive director training or governance training, if applicable]


[Relevant professional award, specifying the accomplishment and its significance]

Regulatory positions:

[Position held, e.g., PRA SMF16]

Memberships to professional bodies or relevant organisations:

[Membership in professional bodies or organisations pertinent to the role]

Specific NED or Portfolio Professional training can give you a significant edge on your CV - you can read more about the value of professional NED training here.

Tips for Improving Your Non-Executive Director CV

Connectd’s Transition to Portfolio programme has a whole on demand course, along with exercise and resources, to guide you through creating a stellar NED or advisory CV. Learn more about the programme and how it could help you to prepare for application and interview here.

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