I recently attended an LSE public lecture by George Anders which coincided with the launch of his new book ‘The Rare Find’, a fascinating investigation into the way forward-thinking companies seek out new talent.
One of the companies mentioned in the book is Google. Google started out by reading resumes the traditional way, but after an unintentional experiment (full details are in the book), they realized they were missing out on a lot of great talent by focusing all their attention on the usual suspects of academic achievement and credentials, so they began by reading CVs of the down up.
Now, for many years as a CV consultant and builder, I have championed the importance of the interests and activities section of a CV, sometimes in the face of conflicting opinions. What Google found when looking “backwards” was that the last section of a person’s CV revealed much more about their character and the attributes they will bring to a position beyond their academic prowess. school It wasn’t your favorite subject!
Employers in the UK are also starting to take notice and are increasingly paying more attention to the interests and activities section as a way of narrowing down what can often be a very long list of applications, particularly in this current climate of high unemployment. Clearly, as a job seeker, you want to make sure this section of your CV is up to the task, so here are three things to consider when listing your interests and activities:
1) Be unique
When it comes to considering the types of interests and activities to write down, always think about what it says about you and, when possible, be unique. For example, taking part in a fun run to raise money for charity is great, but it’s showing up more and more on resumes. However, flying halfway around the world to South America, waking up at 4am and walking up to 11 hours in different temperatures and altitudes to climb Mount Machu Picchu for charity. it is unique (read Michelle Pritchard’s story here). Not only that, this feat speaks volumes about a candidate’s level of resilience, discipline and determination, all attributes of a great employee.
Unique doesn’t necessarily have to mean that no one else has done it before (after all, “there’s nothing new under the sun”), but it does mean that the interest or activity you list is a little above what common. and therefore much less likely to appear on someone else’s CV in the same group.
2) Be specific
So you love “watching movies and socializing with friends”? Excellent, so do 99% of the job-seeking population, so nothing new! Don’t waste time listing generic interests and activities that say nothing about you as a person. If you’re going to list vague interests like “reading, watching movies, and dating,” at least be specific: “I love watching Channel 5 martial arts movies and direct-to-TV movies starring Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal” it is more specific than its generic relative and therefore more effective (of course, don’t write this on your CV, but you get the point).
3) Be honest
As much as you may be tempted to lie or exaggerate your interests, honesty is always the best policy. It makes no sense to say that you love to play golf in your spare time when you live in a city center development with no green space in sight! You want the employer to hire you based on information about who you really are, not some fake persona you created to get your foot in the door. If you somehow make it past the résumé stage with lies, any demanding employer will be able to spot it quickly in the interview and if not, certainly on the job, so you would have wasted their time and more importantly yours. ; it’s not worth the hassle.
The key to remember is that your entire CV has to sell you, including the interests and activities section. Get this right and you too can be that “rare find” that companies are looking for.