In an article for IXL, Bernerd Kellmann provides feedback from some of Australia’s top career professionals, and demonstrates that, as with many areas of compiling a resume, the final result can still be influenced by personal preference.
Heidi Mason, head of executive search firm Russell Reynolds:
“Be careful of what is put there as it is just as easy to give the wrong impression as to have something that stands out from the crowd. Including a single-figure golf handicap on a CV could show you’re too focused on yourself, whereas participation in endurance sports sends a message about the commitment an individual is capable of.”
Paul Lyons, Managing Director of specialist recruitment firm, Ambition:
“Letting recruiters know about general interests is important for finding the right cultural match. CFOs are usually trying to sell themselves just on their track records. I’d also like to know about extra interest because this builds a picture and shows they’re aiming for a work life balance. Yet I see a ‘major interest’ in only about one out of 10 resumes at the top level.”
Michael Markiewicz, Managing Director of recruitment consultancy, Carmichael Fisher:
“Including hobbies or interests is a conversation-opener for a job interview at any level of seniority. There are no hard and fast rules on what should be included, or what it might imply about a job candidate.”
He points out that examples such as “playing for the Wallabies” suggest a leader with drive but nevertheless a team person, “a golf handicap of two, or a black belt in karate, suggest more of an individual-type person”, “theatre, opera and reading as interests implies a more analytical and contemplative type of person”.
When compiling a resume, and even in the cover letter, I look carefully at the individual and the industry/role they are targeting. While Ms. Mason views reference to golf handicaps as a possible sign of retrospection, it can be a key point in compiling a sales resume where subjects such as golf are frequent ice breakers, and golfing events are used as sales and marketing tools.
Certain interests such as marathon running show endurance, commitment, motivation and forward planning and are an asset in any position. If you are targeting a steady, at home position, a passion for overseas travel – whether you indulge or not – could be seen as lacking focus and stability, whereas if you are targeting a position with a global organisation where you need to be comfortable relating to many different individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds, international travel could be seen as a boon.
Interests are in the eye of the beholder.