Why is your application being rejected?

It’s a common misconception that becoming a non-exec is just something that will happen naturally at a certain point in your career. However, the reality is that non-exec director roles are highly competitive, perhaps even more so than exec roles. You are not just competing against your peers, but two generations of previous executives looking for roles. Moreover, board roles don’t come around that often given the length of time served, making them even more competitive.

In a traditional search process, you might be filtered out before you even realise. But not getting the job doesn’t mean you wouldn’t make a good non-exec. It might just mean that you were against the non-exec equivalent of Usain Bolt.

Organisations posting roles on Nurole are spoiled by the quality and range of applications. As one chair recently put it “I have never seen such a strong shortlist for a NED role”. If you apply for a role where you don’t meet the required criteria your chances of success are clearly going to be lower than if you are a 100% match. But they’re not going to be zero – we have seen candidates who didn’t meet all the required criteria get the role when they offered something exceptional or different.


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That said, when candidates meet all the required criteria (and they usually do), then it comes down to the desired criteria. Of course these desired criteria often become required (especially when you have a group of strong candidates). So you have to figure out how comfortable you are with risk-taking or rejection. If you apply for roles well outside your areas of expertise, of course you have to accept that your success rate is likely to be lower.

Where you sit on that spectrum is a personal choice – some members only apply for roles where they believe they are a shoe-in while others are prepared to be more speculative.

We sometimes hear from people that they are frustrated not progressing when they have invested so much time in an application. However, in our experience the best applications are not long and take on average 30 minutes to complete. The best ones are to the point, evidence-based and could only have been written by that person. So they don’t say, “I am passionate about energy or education” because anyone can say that. Instead they communicate this through their actions and experience, which can evidence this underlying message.

A surprising number of people fall at the interview stage and realise they didn’t prepare sufficiently. The most common reason being rejected at shortlist stage is that a candidate hasn't prepared as well as the candidate who was successful. Really prepare good questions that will show your understanding of the business and your qualifications to do the job.

How far did you get? We tell you if you are longlisted, shortlisted or get close. If you are on the shortlist, long list or close, it’s likely a matter of time and patience before you make the break through. If you are not getting there, it may be worth engaging a non-executive coach who can either help you polish your approach or let you know if you are applying for the wrong roles, or simply that the right role for you hasn’t appeared yet.



If you are looking for senior executive and non-executive director roles, Nurole's innovative recruitment platform can help.