The pandemic has been a catalyst for career change. While some people have had to change jobs out of necessity, others are considering switching to improve their work-life balance.
More than half of UK workers plan to make changes to their careers in the next 12 months as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by Aviva (AV.L). One in 10 people aim to find a role that will allow them to work from home, while six percent want to turn their hobby into a career.
From gardening and walking to baking and painting, many of us turned to hobbies during lockdown to pass the time. But can your hobby actually help you land a new job?
“Including lockdown hobbies should be discretionary, however if you do, it’s better if the addition makes sense for your application, works to your advantage and enhances your personal brand through that personal touch,” says Joanna Blazinska, a career coach and strategist. “A hobby is a valuable insight as long as it boosts your application by showcasing behaviours, attitudes and personality traits.”
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Which companies value hobbies?
It can be difficult to know whether an employer will appreciate an insight into your personal life, and whether your hobby might be seen as a useful skill.
“The question to ask yourself before including would be: How can I use the underlying skills built through a hobby for the benefit of the job and organisation? What will they know I am good at that will enhance my contribution and performance in the new job and team?” Blazinska says.
It can also depend on the job you are applying for, the company and the industry too. “More traditional industries, for example banking, will be likely to stick to a more traditional approach,” Blazinska says.
“Do research on the company culture before. Check out their website. Check out the content posted on their Linkedin company page, and what the leadership posts. You’ll know whether it is a workplace which will embrace you as a whole person and will respect work-life balance.”
Modern businesses may see hobbies as helpful insight into a candidate’s life, but others may not. Including a hobby on your CV can send a positive message about your outlook, creativity, motivation and drive for self-improvement. It’s also humanising, something modern businesses may value.
However, not all hiring managers or recruiters are looking for insights drawn from hobbies. Some may be unwilling to make the connection between the pastime and the skill it creates, or may think the applicant is wasting their time.
“It could build you a brand you don’t want, through misinterpretation, judgment, labelling, not taking you seriously,” Blazinska says. “It could blur your brand if there is too much information.”
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What kind of hobbies might be valued by employers?
A relevant hobby can enhance your personal brand and will be valued by the right employer, if used strategically. “A hobby can be valued by employers if you’ve created a technical skill - even better if you’ve got a certificate for it,” says Blazinska.
Hobbies that develop soft skills like communication may also be sought after, as well as activities that demonstrate determination, resilience, problem-solving or the ability to work in a team. Some activities may be practically useful, such as video-editing, photography or project management.
“A hobby could potentially be treated as a learning technique for soft skills and a tool to open up sources of creativity,” says Blazinska. “Research shows new skills employers look for, often pointing to more soft skills and creativity. However, soft skills are difficult to verify, until put to work. Hobbies stand for an opportunity to showcase them.
“Additionally, a new skill creates new neural pathways in the brain. In turn it makes you a more valuable resource or talent. It can imply you will look for new, creative and unusual connections and applications of knowledge in problem solving, and that you will generate more enriched insights, and lead to innovation.”