Because You Need to Share a Holistic Insight Into Who You Are
Clients will often ask me if they should put interests/hobbies on their CV. 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.
Having an insight into what’s unique and different about a candidate over and above their skills and experience allows an understanding of how they will perform in the role and in being an ambassador for the company. And as importantly provides an insight into how the company can support the candidate’s learning, development and growth in line with what is important to them, both professionally and personally.
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 companies 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 than my capability to perform on the job, I would make a very quick exit. Simply because I need to know that the company 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 of how they value their employees. This is important to me because the core of my work is supporting individuals and teams in being fulfilled in their WorkLife. I help people manage their WorkLife learning, development and growth, which in turn positively impacts the company’s vision and business strategy.
Remember, an interview is a two-way process. As much as you need to sell yourself to the company 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.
A Case Study: Mary’s Story Wearing the Mask of Chief Financial Officer
When Mary and I began working together, she was ready to move on from her current organisation because it no longer inspired her. It was in a sector that was quite progressive in a commercial sense, but it 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 WorkLife 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 putting 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 headhunters 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 headhunters 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 are a love for English Heritage and a love of animals. She supports charities in both her areas of interest through donations, and she is also a trustee and board member of her chosen charities. She does 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 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 had it on her CV (which Mary didn’t) 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.
Mary’s story does have a happy ending. Putting her interests and hobbies on her CV opened up a greater range of roles for her. 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 (the visual image of a donkey race), 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. She has since secured a role working for an organisation within the National Heritage.
And so yes, do include your interests and 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.
Words of Wisdom
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.
I have shared this story with my client’s permission. I’ve changed some details to protect anonymity. Mary’s story was featured in my book Your WorkLife Your Way. The book focuses on helping you live your best WorkLife by managing your learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful questions and the ability to shape and tell your unique story in all your WorkLife situations, both in your written and verbal communication.
This story was originally published on 16/2/15. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you
… The Continuing Story …
The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.
In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.
Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.
I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.
My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning.
School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.
The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.
School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time.
What is Self Directed Learning?
Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint.
Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning
You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside.
How To Live True To Who You Really Are (Mary’s story also featured in this book).
How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others
How To Drive Your Vision and Motivated Abilities
You can view the complete collection of books here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning. These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies. which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.
That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.