We often hear from members that it’s difficult to decide whether or not to apply for a particular role.

Obviously we can’t make that decision for you, but here are a set of questions that can be useful to consider when you are weighing up submitting an application.

The number of applicants per role varies quite a lot, depending on several factors. These include pay, the reputation of the hiring organisation and the sector. For the most competitive roles, the spec will likely spell out a very high level of experience. 

Do I have the skills the organisation is looking for?

This is the best place to start as our in-house team works closely with every hiring organisation to create the right role spec. Everything there is there for a reason, but nothing is more important than the “required skills” section. Everyone who makes the longlist will have those skills, and, crucially, be able to demonstrate relevant, high-quality experience for each of the key criteria. 

The desired skills are also important. Sometimes an organisation will list several areas and ask that candidates have experience in at least one – here you want to show a strong track record in a specific expertise rather than a bit of experience across the board.

It’s worth saying that evidence shows some groups (including women and BAME candidates) tend to underestimate their capabilities.

Do you have time to take on this role? 

On each role you can see the estimated time commitment the board is looking for. Of course this can change in exceptional circumstances, but it should give you an idea of how many meetings you will be expected to attend.

If you have a busy portfolio career or a demanding day job, it’s worth working out how well you will be able to fit this new role into your schedule. 

Where is it based?

Another important factor is where board meetings are held and if you will be expected to travel. This should be clear on every role, as should travel expenses (which are often covered, but not always).  

Is diversity a factor?

For some roles, you will see that the hiring organisation is particularly keen to hear from applicants who will broaden the diversity of its board. That doesn’t mean that only candidates from under-represented groups will be considered, but it does mean that all things being equal, candidates who can bring diverse perspectives will have a better chance of being interviewed for a role.  

How much does this role excite me? 

Nurole’s model is different in empowering candidates to decide whether to apply for a role (rather than wait for a headhunter’s tap on the shoulder). That means that the strongest candidates will not only have a real passion for the organisation’s work and its values, but they will be able to show that passion with specific examples in their cover letters. 

The best cover letters are specific, and could only have been written by that person, so it’s worth thinking about how well you can sell yourself in a few hundred words. 

Is it paid? 

On every role you will see if it is paid or pro bono. Some people are only interested in paid roles, some people only want to take on pro bono work and some people are interested in a mix. Wherever you are starting from, it’s good to be clear about the money on offer, and the expenses that are covered. The best-paid board roles are, unsurprisingly, some of the most competitive on the platform. 

Will they consider someone who has never sat on a board before?

Part of Nurole’s founding mission was to bring the many talented board-ready people we know are out there into these hiring conversations. You will see some organisations encouraging first-timers to apply, but whether this is explicit or not, the key thing is your skills and experience and how well you can show you are ready to step up into the boardroom. 

How long will my application take?

This will vary from candidate to candidate, but on average people spend about 30 minutes on an application. While you should obviously tailor your application to the specific role, you can see your previous applications in your Nurole account, and there may be information – especially around specific skills and experiences – that can be copied across. 

It’s good to be careful with this though, as hiring organisations want to feel that you have considered their role on its own merits.

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