Unfortunately, as a result of a situation way beyond our own control, many of us find our ‘normality’ disrupted and are forced to make unexpected changes in our behaviour and potentially our livelihood. Once ‘safe’ jobs may be taken from us overnight and  the promised opportunity to build a ‘career’ is all of sudden no longer so clearly laid out.

Sobering times indeed. But maybe in amongst the gloom and understandable despondency there lies an opportunity to recalibrate and reassess what makes us happy and fulfilled. Being aware of WHO you are and WHAT you are great at has never been more pertinent.


Putting the vitality into CV

Those who know me will be aware of my thoughts on traditional CVs and the limited insight they can truly give a recruiter. After all, with so many CV writing services available, along with careers coaches and mentors, it is unlikely the finished CV is in any way reflective of the writing ability or creative wordsmithing of the name at the top of the page. And it is even possible there is some exaggeration somewhere in amongst the truths. (sharp intake of breath)

I’m not saying there is fraud afoot, but I am questioning the usefulness of a CV as a standalone document – it has its place, but it simply doesn’t tell the whole story. The big gap is the personality, behaviour and attitude behind the written word. And that is precisely what many employers are seeking – that spark of individuality that will light up their brand and deliver amazing results time after time. That engaging, lively personality to wow their customers and bring people back, visit after visit – having shared the experience widely with their peer group and beyond.


The real juice

Having said that, I will backtrack just a little, because there is one element on a CV that hints at behaviour and attitude and opens the window just a crack into the personality behind the page. But it isn’t always used and is very often deliberately omitted. I think that’s a real shame and a massive missed opportunity.

I’m talking about the hobbies and interests section. The afterthought at the end of the CV that many believe has no relevance to employability whatsoever and is only ever included if there is room. But it’s the section I go to first.


Because it is (in part) what people choose to do voluntarily that gives an insight into their true motivations and their passions. It is the time spent on cold winter mornings jogging around the park or the hours spent late at night working on lyrics for a new song that open our minds to the natural talents that an individual can bring to the workplace.

But we rarely harness these nuggets of insight to consider the employability potential of the individual – we rely on previous work experience, educational achievements or work qualifications. All very relevant and useful data, but not truly insightful.

So what?

Good point.


Why do hobbies and interests matter?

I’d really like to know what this community of jobseekers facing potential disruption and employers trying to identify real talent think about the link between hobbies and interests and employability. Is it possible to make assumptions and associations to help inform our decision making regarding an individual’s natural talents simply from their throwaway final paragraph on their CV? Or is it an assumption too far and of no value to the hiring process at all?

In my mind there’s a difference between the candidate that claims socialising with friends (a pursuit from the old days) and watching movies and the candidate that plays rugby at club level, sings in a gigging ska band and has been a finalist on MasterChef.  Nothing to do with his or her work experience, but a lot to do with motivation, attitude, behaviours and natural talents.

But anyone can SAY they’ve been on MasterChef or they can sing like Terry Hall. More on this next time. It’s all about the evidence, how to gather it and how to use it to identify a new, previously undiscovered opportunity and how to present it to stand out in a crowded market.


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