As I applied for my university degree, I had a problem. Although my academic work was at the required level for the subjects that I wanted to study, I was struggling with my ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section. I had spent so much of my time studying to make sure I got the grades that I didn’t have time to do anything other than lounge around in front of the TV, sometimes read a book or maybe go out to the cinema. And I’ve read enough CVs of other people to know that this sums up a lot of our shared experiences: ‘Reading and going to the cinema’ appear on nearly all CVs that I have read! I say nearly all because there is that otherset of CVs, those who somehow also managed to do really exciting and adventurous hobbies – water-skiing, mountain climbing, ultra marathons, trekking the Inca Trail, swimming with dolphins. AND they managed to get the grades. How was I ever going to compete with that?!
The need to make your details on application forms and CVs stand out has never diminished, throughout my post-University career and beyond. We tell school leavers and graduates that these show a depth of character, it reflects a broader representation of their personality – I tell them (along with many other recruiters and agents) that nobody even reads them. For many of us this is a relief, as we don’t have to come up with exciting ways that we don’tspend our time; but think about anyone who took up those activities, who were encouraged to take up those activities, because “it would look good on your CV”. I’m not saying its everyone, some do actually like skiing, mountain climbing or lacrosse, but I suspect there is a large proportion of people who have interests on their CV that they really hope the interviewer doesn’t spot and ask questions about. In fact I know this – and I know many interviewers who deliberately look for the ‘awkward pause’ question – usually lurking in this section – that makes the interviewee squirm.
This section forms such a small part of your CV, why am I referencing it in an article called ‘The CV is Dead”? Well, I happen to believe that the ONLY part of a CV that is useful for anyone is the part where you talk about what you do outside of work – the rest of the information looksimportant until you actually pick under the skin of it and you realise that it has no relevance, no importance and no indicator of how well you will perform in a role.
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