Traditional CVs vs NED CVs: what’s the difference?

CV Guru provides advice for how to write a CV if you are applying for non-executive positions.

CV advice


As you progress through your career and take on increasing levels of responsibility, you might start looking for a new challenge. A popular path is searching for a Non-Executive Director – or NED – role.

This kind of position has more differences from traditional executive roles than meets the eye. As a result, your application needs to be approached very differently to make the right impression.

So how should you structure your NED CV for success?

What is a NED role?

The role of a NED is quite different to an executive. An executive role is a traditional full-time position, usually in high-level management or as a director. Executives are focused on running the business day-to-day.

Traditional NED positions can typically involve:

 Joining a board
 Becoming a Trustee
 Serving as a panel member

Essentially, NEDs work with a group of others to determine the leadership, governance and future direction of an organisation. This is not a full-time job – instead, you will attend regular meetings and report to a Chair. You will have a high degree of responsibility, and you need to be willing to embrace accountability if things go wrong.

How is a NED CV different from an Executive CV?

Because of the breadth of a NED role, a NED CV is less specialised than an Executive CV and is more about demonstrating that you are an all-rounder. Your passion and commitment to the work you would be doing need to be clear, and you need to demonstrate how you are aligned with the organisation’s values.

Tips to write an effective NED CV

Professional profile

Your NED CV professional profile needs to be focused on one thing: your Unique Selling Point (USP) concerning the position you are applying for. Use these five sentences to explore the most relevant parts of your background and position yourself as the person who will make a difference in the role.

This could include professional experience, volunteer work and passion projects. Use positive, energetic language throughout to demonstrate your enthusiasm.

Research will help to identify your USP. Find out about specific board members and their strengths –and weaknesses – if you can, so you can highlight what makes you a different, invaluable addition to their ranks.

Key skills

Your key skills section should be much more focused on demonstrating you are an all-rounder than in an executive CV, as any NED position will require you to wear a lot of different hats. Soft skills – which usually wouldn’t be appropriate to list – can be featured here.

Here are just a few of the qualities a NED needs to display:

 Strategy development and implementation
 Governance and ethics
 Stakeholder and partnership management
 Analytical acumen
 Knowledge of [insert specialism here]

Career history

Like with a traditional job application, make sure you understand the specific responsibilities within the NED role and reflect them where you can in your professional experience.

Keep your career history relatively short – the roles you cover need to not only be recent but relevant too. If you have specific industry experience, highlight it!

List your job title – emphasising your progression if you can – your key responsibilities and your key achievements. You should also mention any relevant training you have undertaken, and any professional memberships you have.

Relevant positions

If you have previous experience serving in a NED role on a board for a charity or trust, make sure you include it!

 The number of employees,
 Revenue turnover
 Challenges you faced
 Key practises or policies you helped to successfully implement.

This helps to build a wider picture of who you are, and how you’ve effectively performed this type of role before. The person reviewing your application will know you are reliable and trustworthy.

Extra-curricular activities

If you’ve got involved with any specific volunteering work, completed interesting projects or gained qualifications and skills that are relevant to the NED position, make sure you talk about them.

Your interests outside of work are much more important here than in a traditional job application: your commitment to the cause or vision, in many cases, is what will tip the scales in your favour.

We hope that this blog has helped you understand what a NED CV is and how it differs from a traditional CV and given you tips on how to make sure yours includes the right information.

*Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of the CV Guru which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK and they also provide specialist consultancy services.  If you want some extra help to make sure your NED CV wows your reader, you can purchase CV Guru’s Executive CV service: you automatically get two versions of your CV – one career-focused document, plus another that can you refocus towards another role such as a NED position to help you achieve your other goals. Each of the Executive and NED CVs are written personally by Emma and Senior Writer Victoria James.

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