Tips to becoming a Non-Executive Director

March 3rd, 2020

Tips to Becoming a Non-Executive Director


Our Non-Executive Director, Elizabeth Jackson has a wealth of experience so we’ve asked her to share her top tips for securing a Non-Executive Director role.

1.  Understand the Role 

 The role of Non-Executive Director (NED) varies considerably from one organisation to another and it’s important to understand what would be required in each set of circumstances, and crucially whether that would suit your skill set. A large board of Trustees for a National Health Trust for example draws on specific expertise of individual Trustees who must be completely independent of the Executive. By contrast a smaller younger company may look to their NED to play a more inclusive part in the development of the business, mentoring and encouraging the Executive team rather than critically analysing their efforts. Decide where you would feel more at home and try to channel your efforts accordingly.


2.  Prepare your CV

The first NED role is always the hardest to secure so it is important that your CV includes examples of where you have undertaken the same role, be it all under a different name. Nearly all Executives will have had experience of mentoring others within their organisations; participated in committee work where they haven’t had the lead, or been involved in community groups where there has been a requirement to draw information together from a range of different perspectives. All of these experiences come to the fore when undertaking the role of a NED so highlight them in your resume.


3.  Lay the Groundwork

If moving from Executive to Non-Executive roles is part of your long-term plan then start looking for suitable roles now. Most companies welcome the opportunity for their Executive team to broaden their horizons and they can see the advantages that knowledge of comparable challenges, for example Brexit planning, across different industries can bring back at base. A word of caution though - don’t take on a role you have insufficient time to fulfil just because it enhances your CV. In the long run it will do the reverse and actually damage your reputation.


4.  Charitable or Commercial

As Trustee of a Charity the role extends beyond the remit of a commercial NED as Trustees are often expected to assist with fund raising initiatives and support the charitable enterprise financially. There are also the requirements of the Charities Commission and Governance Code to consider. A thankless task? Not if the cause is close to your heart and you believe passionately in its purpose. In that event it is incredibly rewarding and a very meaningful way to give back to society.


5.  Spread the Net

Over the past 10 years there has been a significant increase in the number of jobs boards offering both pro bono and remunerated NED positions. Putting your head above the parapet to let people know you’re looking is essential. It is also important to raise awareness within business groups, trade organisations and financial services contacts; you never know, even your next door neighbour might prove to be just the lead you need. 


6.  Matching your Skills to the Brief

Clearly if the job spec states that they require a qualified lawyer or accountant and you have an engineering background the chances are you’re unlikely to be invited for interview. However, if you believe, having looked at the composition of the Board and the relative backgrounds, that you have a perspective to offer that is not currently represented you have nothing to lose by asking the Board to consider it on its own merits. A balanced board is championed as being the most effective so diversity of background and talent is far more desirable than replication of expertise.


7.  Pick your Industry

Whether it’s a position in the Charitable or Commercial sector you must be comfortable and interested in the industry the Company operates in. It is not necessary that you are an expert in it and in many ways there’s an advantage in coming to it with fresh eyes and no background baggage to influence your thinking and questioning. It’s also an intellectual challenge to understand a new industry and a good NED will always rise to that challenge.


Apply Recruitment specialises in placing people in the technology sector, so if you have an interest in the sector or a background in developing the IT function and you are interested in securing a Non-Executive role please contact us. Equally if you have a requirement for a Non-Executive Director, we would very pleased to hear from you.  Email us at or call us on 0161 507 9387.