Why I look at the ‘Personal Interests’ section of a cv first

I’ve been a member of a few cricket clubs in my time. At each one, there has been one or two people who do all the organising.

You know the type. A bit nerdy. Possibly not many friends outside of the club. Not really ‘one of the lads’. Suspicion that they only do all the work because no-one would talk to them if they didn’t.

One of those types has just donated £1,000 to our cricket club. Without his willingness to umpire every week, ‘the lads’ wouldn’t be able to relax and watch the game on a sunny day.

I am one of those nerds. At a previous club, I became the club coach. I gave some technical coaching when asked. Mainly, I organised. I decreed that only those that arrived to help set up the nets would be allowed to bat. Certain first team players (used to turning up after nets were set up and leaving before they had to be put away) didn’t like me very much. I never really felt ‘one of the lads’.

The first team got promoted in each of the three seasons in which I was club coach. Not one single person made a connection between my coaching and the success on the pitch. At the end of each season, there was an annual dinner and prize giving. One of the prizes was ‘Clubman of the Year’, an award given to the person who has done most to help the club. Who do you think won this award in each of those promotion seasons?

That’s right. The guy who ran the bar.

I came to a very important conclusion during those three years. It doesn’t matter. You simply cannot do these things for the recognition, because it rarely comes. Once you have made that leap, you relax, and stop feeling so taken for granted. The whole experience becomes enjoyable again.

‘The lads’ have a tendency to let others do the work, and complain if it’s not done the way they want. I strongly suspect that if any of my old colleagues at that club read this, they wouldn’t even recognise what I have described.

Look around our industry. Who are the nerds? Who quietly get on with trying to make things better, not expecting praise? Nick Cann is one that springs to mind (although he’s certainly not a nerd in its real sense!). Who are the others? Let’s give them some recognition here.

We’re looking to hire a senior adviser at Ovation at the moment. When I read a cv, I want a nerd, not ‘one of the ‘lads’. I want someone who gets off their backside and tries to make things better, not someone who waits for others to act.

There is an old adage in recruitment – recruit based on attitude, because you can always train the skill. And that’s why I always look at the ‘Personal Interests’ section of a cv first.

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9 thoughts on “Why I look at the ‘Personal Interests’ section of a cv first

  • Hi Chris. Your post stood out as I’m recruiting currently and have taken flack in the team for deciding whether to read a CV or not based on the cover letter alone. But I stand my ground on it!

    I too then also first look at personal interests on the CV. I’m not sure the “nerd” vs “lad” simplification works for me, but if you’re saying you should look for people that have been inspired to take on and deliver against a significant challenge, then I couldn’t agree more.

    Reply
  • Hi Chris. Your post stood out as I’m recruiting currently and have taken flack in the team for deciding whether to read a CV or not based on the cover letter alone. But I stand my ground on it!

    I too then also first look at personal interests on the CV. I’m not sure the “nerd” vs “lad” simplification works for me, but if you’re saying you should look for people that have been inspired to take on and deliver against a significant challenge, then I couldn’t agree more.

    Reply
    • Thanks Adam. Agree the ‘nerd v lads’ is a rather black and white, life has many shades of grey, and many people who do as much as they are able.

      Reply
  • Why ask for a CV in the first instanc? I know of a few companies , admittedly not FS ones, that request videos or cover letters to see who stands out and impresses then you might discover your nerd or lad or lady sooner! A CV can come at a later date

    Reply
  • I suppose a lot depends on what the role is. Whilst enthusiasm and initiative are undoubted qualities, these benefits are diluted if that person cannot articulate an idea or has poor attention to detail. Conversely someone with the latter but not the former would not be ideal for all roles.

    The covering letter does expose an individuals ability to articulate and demonstrates a basic grasp of grammar. Both I would imagine essential skills in a professional services environment.

    Personally this should be underpinned by a set of qualifications that includes maths, english, a science subject and one of history or geography. You can train the skill but where that skill involves passing exams then that is a skill in itself.

    Reply
  • Hi Chris. Your post stood out as I’m recruiting currently and have taken flack in the team for deciding whether to read a CV or not based on the cover letter alone. But I stand my ground on it!

    I too then also first look at personal interests on the CV. I’m not sure the “nerd” vs “lad” simplification works for me, but if you’re saying you should look for people that have been inspired to take on and deliver against a significant challenge, then I couldn’t agree more.

    Reply
    • Thanks Adam. Agree the ‘nerd v lads’ is a rather black and white, life has many shades of grey, and many people who do as much as they are able.

      Reply
  • Why ask for a CV in the first instanc? I know of a few companies , admittedly not FS ones, that request videos or cover letters to see who stands out and impresses then you might discover your nerd or lad or lady sooner! A CV can come at a later date

    Reply
  • I suppose a lot depends on what the role is. Whilst enthusiasm and initiative are undoubted qualities, these benefits are diluted if that person cannot articulate an idea or has poor attention to detail. Conversely someone with the latter but not the former would not be ideal for all roles.

    The covering letter does expose an individuals ability to articulate and demonstrates a basic grasp of grammar. Both I would imagine essential skills in a professional services environment.

    Personally this should be underpinned by a set of qualifications that includes maths, english, a science subject and one of history or geography. You can train the skill but where that skill involves passing exams then that is a skill in itself.

    Reply

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