It is a highly competitive market out there for boardroom positions,
and in particular for aspiring NEDs with no previous experience. So how can you make sure
that you even get a look in? What does it take to write a
NED CV that really stands out?
Targeting is key
Before you start writing your CV and telling the reader about all your experiences and achievements that you are now eager to share, it is essential to understand your audience really well.
For you to come across authentic in how you emotionally connect and have a passion for what the company does, it is vital to know more about yourself beyond just skills and experience. What makes you unique for this particular role?
You have a few seconds to engage the reader, so it is essential to early communicate what ‘added value’ you are bringing to the organisation and how your USP help drive bottom line impact. Below are some ideas to help you write a compelling NED CV.
Difference between Executive and Non-Executive CV
As an Executive you want to show you are a dynamic leader that can drive business. However, as a Non-Executive you need to show you bring wisdom, strategic mindset, are a critical thinker and willing to challenge and support the executive team. A board role also requires a collaborative approach with the leadership team, so it is important to demonstrate your ability to build productive relationships.
If you haven’t had any board roles yet then emphasise how your experience to date transitions into a board environment. Demonstrate you have the skills and perspective that the board is looking for.
Four actions to help you build a CV that stands out
1. Understand your passion and purpose
Before you even think of entering into the boardroom, it is a very good investment to do some soul searching, ie understand who you are - what are your values, beliefs and purpose? What is it that fires you up, what are you known for, what is your philosophy? What excites you? What makes you unique? This will help you understand better what organisation you want to work with and where you can add most value.
The things that differentiate your unique promise of value from your competitors is what will sell you.
2. Empathise with your audience
Your CV is your marketing tool so it is important to understand the audience you are marketing to. Who is going to read your CV? What problems are you solving for them? What is your solution and what makes you unique for this role? Don’t be too generic, but tailor to each opportunity. Do your research! When they read your CV, you want them to feel that you are aligned with where they are. Don’t make the reader having to guess how you would help them, but show what ‘added value’ you are bringing and how that impacts the bottom line.
Everything in your resume has to align with what current pressing needs they have and how you can help them.
3. Story telling
You have a few seconds to get the reader's attention, so to make sure they continue engaged, it is useful to think of unravelling a story. To keep the reader engaged and wanting to know more, use less details at the top and make it relevant and personal - people connect with emotions rather than just data.
Write your resume from your own voice, you are not like everyone else, and remember, your successes will be overlooked if they are too hard to find.
4. CV Framework
Below are the various sections that a NED CV should contain. It is shorter and much more to the point than an Executive CV, max two pages long and emphasise the qualities specific to the boardroom.
Top of CV -
Contact details including name (In bold and slightly larger than the text), title, email, phone number and address (it is enough with town/country as location). Add LinkedIn profile link too, but make sure it is aligned with your CV.
Executive summary -
This is prime real estate and the most important part of your CV. You have a few seconds to grab the reader's attention so it needs to be short and sharp. It is where you begin to unravel your story, engaging the reader to want to know more. Demonstrate clearly what impact you do and find the precise words that describe what makes you unique and valuable for that role. It is essential to include relevant and specific subject matter expertise, thought leadership or relevant industry experience. Focus on where you can add value and stay relevant to the target area.
Board experience -
Demonstrate how you are able to engage with, and promote governance at all levels. If you are an aspiring NED you need to use key terms like ‘NED experience’ and ‘external board advise’. Include any board experience such as company secretary/trustee/advisory board/steering groups/committee experience or board level consultancy.
Experience history -
This is a chronological history of your strategic achievements starting with the most recent. Include what value you brought and what measurable difference you made under each using keywords describing skills and attributes relevant to a NED role and specific for this organisation. Follow a format of "Challenge – Actions – Measurable Results“ to highlight your critical contributions and evidencing the skills and personal attributes you mention higher up in the CV. Include dates, companies and roles.
Academic, qualifications, awards and memberships -
Only include the main ones also any NED professional development training demonstrating your professional commitment to the role like the ‘NED training and certification'. Also list relevant awards, regulatory positions and publications.
Outside interests -
This is a good place to show your passion, commitment and altruistic side, in particular if it is aligned with the organisations purpose. Other relevant interests could be school governor, voluntary work, charity, fund raiser etc.
Include the highest level genuine referees you have, in particular if there is a connection to the organisation (don’t include contact details).
A few basic housekeeping -
Use common font no smaller than 11pt
Use bullet points
Headers in bold
Write in third person
Be concise, no jargon or acronyms
Right vocabulary for NED role (eg advisor, mentor, listening, challenging, strategic perspective)
Future paced, show future value and potential contribution
CV needs to be presentable in digital format for email
Align social media profile with CV
If you would like me to share some thoughts around your own personal circumstances and how to take that first step, just get in touch via email at email@example.com.