Clients will often ask me if they should put interests/hobbies on their CV and without hesitation I respond ABSOLUTELY. I believe it’s so important when people are being interviewed that the interviewer/s take time to understand who they are as individuals, what’s unique and different about them over and above their skills, and experience in allowing an understanding of how they will perform in the role and be an ambassador for the organisation.
After all we spend so much of our time in our job that there is a need to have a holistic view of what makes people tick, what motivates and inspires them and keeps them energised in their work and their life outside of work. Good organisations will want to understand and support this and quite frankly if I was being interviewed by an organisation that showed little interest in me other that my capability to perform on the job, I would make a very quick exit, simply because I need to know that the organisation values my happiness and well-being and in order to do that, they need to have this insight and understanding.
This allows me an understanding to how they value their employees which is important because the core of my work is supporting individuals and teams in being fulfilled in their careers, managing and developing their careers, which in turn impacts the organisation’s vision and business strategy.
Remember an interview is a two-way process, as much as you need to sell yourself to the organisation they need to sell themselves to you too. Good interviewers will give people the chance to tell their story, which in turn allows them to see an individual’s real potential. I’ll share a story about Mary to demonstrate what I mean.
When Mary and I began working together she was ready to move on from her current organisation, which no longer inspired her, it was in a sector that was quite progressive in a commercial sense but wasn’t in line with Mary’s values. Her internal fire for this type of organisation had burnt out and she felt she was putting on the mask of Chief Financial Officer every day whether with her team or at board meetings.
To facilitate her impending career move she began to connect with head hunters, all of whom were eager to represent her, by either putting her forward for a role they were already recruiting for, or to put her forward as a strong candidate to organisations they had a relationship with who might not have been actively recruiting for a specific position but were undergoing some changes that would benefit from having Mary on board, and of course being in a position to put forward a candidate of Mary’s calibre would strengthen the head hunters’ credibility and relationship with the organisation.
However as with many head hunters and recruitment consultants they were considering Mary for organisations similar to the one she wanted to move on from rather than taking the time to understand who she was as an individual to take into account her interests and potential across other industries and sectors. Unfortunately this is a sign of the times and in a competitive market this is how head hunters and recruitment consultants are forced to operate, simply because they have a stronger chance of securing a role for a candidate who is a better fit for the job specification in terms of their current experience.
Among Mary’s passions were a love for English Heritage and a love of animals. She supported charities in both her areas of interests, through donations and she was also a trustee and board member of her chosen charities, she did this in a voluntary capacity. She had also taken a two month sabbatical during which time she lived in a small community in remote Africa and worked alongside the local people offering her financial expertise to support them in developing a sustainable business strategy for the community which allowed them to be self-sufficient in promoting their social enterprise. At the end of the two months the community held a carnival in celebration of Mary’s support and she was even crowned queen of their village!
Along with all of this Mary also has her pilot’s licence and at weekends you’ll find her navigating the skies of Britain along with her husband a fellow enthusiast. Now Mary is quite unassuming and so you’d never really know these things about her and it would be unusual for it to come up in an interview situation, unless of course she has it on her CV and the interviewer is interested in finding out who she really is. Then of course the interviewer would see Mary’s true potential and would understand why she should be considered as a serious candidate for a role in an organisation or sector different to where she’s come from.
And so yes, do include your interests, hobbies on your CV and make your decision about joining an organisation based on how interested they are in understanding who you are as a person both in your work and your life outside of work. I also think by doing this you will demonstrate your attributes and I believe this is an important consideration for employers alongside the skills and experience represented on your CV.
Mary’s story does have a happy ending, she interviewed but was pipped at the post for a role in a charity that provided care for donkeys in developing countries, this may bring a smile to your face but the role of these donkeys is integral to the community and their owners needed to take better care of them to allow them to work at their best and to be taken care of when they could no longer work. Although Mary was disappointed not to secure the role, the experience gave her the belief that she could transition into a sector that has more meaning for her in line with her values and as since secured a role and is working for an organisation within the National Heritage.
*Published with client permission. Name has been changed.