One of our NEDworks subscribers recently sent us an e-mail asking where all the well-paid, private sector NED roles are?
There were just three December private sector vacancies .. Is that all the vacancies from across the whole country? Am I missing something here?
If it is, what are you doing to improve this position as it is hard to believe that this represents the market for NED roles for the UK?
The truth is that the vast majority of private sector businesses do not have any NEDs at all and those that do rarely advertise vacancies – preferring to select from known associates and trusted advisors.
That is why most of the vacancies which are advertised are from the public and voluntary sectors – and competition for those is very keen.
Most of our members who have secured private sector NED roles have done so through the tried and tested route of working with businesses as a consultant, coach or mentor in order to establish themselves as trusted advisors before then naturally progressing to the board.
Despite what some of the other NED networks will tell you there is no secret seam of lucrative private sector NED roles that only they can unlock
What we advise is to establish yourself as an experienced NED on a public or voluntary sector board (many of which these days are paid roles) whilst cultivating your network of private sector businesses.
So here are some Dos and Don’ts to help you get started in finding your ideal NED role:
- Find out exactly what is involved in being a Non-Executive Director, Trustee or Governor. Even if you have served as an executive board member it pays to brush up on your knowledge of Corporate Governance – the Excellencia How to become a Non-Executive Director course is an excellent place to start (you can compare NED courses on the NEDworks website)
- Spend some time on your CV and letter of application – being a Non-Executive Director requires a different skill-set to your executive roles so a NED CV will be different – there is advice on writing a CV on the NEDworks web-site
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and features any current or previous NED, Trustee or Governor roles you have had.
- Spend time on your LinkedIn profile statement and headline
- Expand your LinkedIn network – abandon any idea of only connecting with people you know well or have met in person – upload your contacts to LinkedIn and connect with as many as you can. Accept invitations from recruiters – especially those that specialise in NED roles.
- Search your LinkedIn network for contacts who already have NED roles and message them to ask how they got them – particularly private sector roles.
- Take up the opportunity to speak with the Chair or recruiter if it is offered – it is an opportunity to find out more about the role and you will be remembered when it comes to shortlisting for interview
- Restrict yourself to only considering private sector roles – public and voluntary sector roles are advertised much more often, public sector sector NED roles are often remunerated at similar levels to the majority of private sector roles and public and voluntary sector roles offer excellent Corporate Governance experience.
- Assume that because you have had a successful executive career you will be a shoe-in for a NED role – there are many more applicants for NED roles than there are positions available even for pro-bono roles so it pays to take applications seriously with a well-written CV and letter of application.
- Be put-off if you don’t get an interview after your first few applications – persistence is required in order to secure the right role. Always ask for feedback after an unsuccessful interview to help you with the next application.
- Underestimate the time commitments for a NED role – where an advert says 1 to 2 days a month you can double or treble that figure in order to do the job properly especially if it is your first NED appointment – being a Non-Executive Director involves much more than just turning up for the board meeting and trying to read the board-pack as you go – most of the work is done outside the board-room and you need to allow sufficient time.
- Think that you can replace your executive salary with NED fees. Recruiters will tell you that you can typically earn £1,000 per day as a NED which sounds reasonable but you can only realistically take on between 3 and 5 NED appointments at any one time and the time commitment is likely to be much more than advertised (see above)
Being a Non-Executive Director can be extremely rewarding, emotionally engaging and intellectually stimulating, especially as part of a portfolio career but it does require a significant investment of time and effort to establish a NED career.
Well-paid, private sector, NED roles are out there but there is no magic short-cut or secret path to finding them.
Good luck with your search, let me know if I can help you along the way and here’s to making 2020 the year you take the first steps in your NED career.