Written by Ana Piferrer, 14th September 2018
I recently went to see “Matilda, the Musical” and whilst it’s never been my favourite Roald Dahl story, I love a good stage musical! One of the lines that stuck with me the most was “You gotta be loud to stand out from the crowd!” sung in the most garish and belittling way possible by Mrs Wormwood to poor mousy Miss Honey. But there’s a nugget of truth in her words, and that’s what made me prick up my ears and got me thinking.
We’ve been led to believe that all that counts when looking for a new position is good exam results and ticking boxes of desirable experience in recognized organisations. I say you are so much more than your grades! You are so much more than that renowned company you’ve worked at! You are going to be interviewed by a human being with interests and hobbies and a rich life just like you. Find a connection with them.
I once heard a story of an IT professional who was applying directly for roles in large financial institutions. Underqualified for most of the roles applied for, yet he still managed to land interviews in all those companies. How did he get through to interview?? The answer is simple, but not immediately obvious.
The individual’s recruiter understood that the hiring managers were seeking candidates who would be a good cultural fit, with the right attitude and approach, but it’s difficult to indicate your personality on your CV. It’s all well and good to describe yourself as a ‘hard working IT professional’, but it doesn’t really have any weight without evidence. Stipulating your job responsibilities and achievements is great, but your personality is still an unknown. The hiring managers wanted someone who was willing to take risk, roll their sleeves up and be dedicated.
This candidate has something very particular written in the interests and hobbies section. Turns out he had climbed Mount Everest and that had piqued the curiosity of the recruiter. The recruiter wanted to hear the details, the hows and whys, and…the but how!?? Most importantly, this gave the recruiter an insight into the candidate’s personality, what motivated them as an individual and helped the recruiter personality match the candidate to the roles.
I’m not saying that you need to take a sabbatical and risk your life, all you have to do is connect with the hiring manager on a personal level. Show them that you are more than your job, tell them that you have a love for Scotch (can we be friends?), that you have a penchant for skydiving, or explain how you managed to visit North Korea! This makes it easier for us to find points in common between you and the hiring managers we’re going to introduce you to. We are the gatekeepers, and you might have the most impressive CV, but ultimately we are looking for the right cultural fit and for candidates who are going to enjoy working with our clients and who will become intrinsic parts of their teams, not just as employees, but as people.
So whilst you might not want to give an exhaustive list of all that you do in your spare time, don’t be afraid to hint at the rich life you have outside of work. In the words of Tim Minchin by way of Mrs. Wormwood “You gotta give yourself permission to shine, to stand up and be proud, proud, proud, proud!”