What to focus on when pitching for a NED role

Insights from Juliet Taylor, CEO of non-executive recruiters Starfish Search

Having a wealth of experience to bring to NED positions is a clear advantage. However, it can make summarising the value you would offer extremely difficult. Application processes are competitive and time to put your case forward is limited.

Here Juliet Taylor, CEO of non-executive recruiters Starfish Search, shares her advice on how to frame your experience when putting yourself forward for a NED role.

She says, “When applying for non-executive directorships, only use 25% of your time to detail what you did in the past. Reserve the 75% to focus on the ‘so what?’. In other words, you need to give the most weight to explaining how you will apply your experience to the board and how you will add value.” 

Whilst recruitment briefs vary as to what boards are looking for in their non-executives, there are commonalities across all boards. You need to be clear which core elements you can contribute to. 

Juliet explains, “Most boards look for four key things across the board as a whole: knowledge of key professional disciplines; expertise in governance; ambassadorial skill and networks; and a reflection of and/or connections with the organisation’s main audiences. 

Not everyone on the board has to bring everything. You can offer depth in one or two areas and still be a phenomenal non-executive. You need to pitch what you will bring to that particular board, and remember you may contribute in different ways to different organisations.”

It is also important to understand what may not be made explicit in the brief. The wider context of the organisation, and the board itself, is not always as obvious but is essential to consider.  

“Understand the nuance of board roles,” Juliet says, “Consider questions like: Where is that organisation trying to get to? What can you bring to the party? It’s also important to appreciate the dynamics around the board table and how you would complement those.”

Finally, Juliet counsels a direct approach when it comes to interview. 

“This is their time, just tell the organisation what you can bring to the table to help them get to their goal.”