Always have an extra project
For those wondering what to write under hobbies on their CV, this is the chance to shine even more. Don’t use the word hobbies, because this forces you to write down things that you really like doing, but often aren’t relevant at all and don’t even give the employer much information about you. Things like “hiking” and “travel” are quite ubiquitous. I’ve asked candidates how often they do their hobbies and many have said: “Hardly ever, I just put that on there to fill up space.”
Rather, add your passion projects, things that you do in your spare time that have some type of connection to what you do.
Illustrating your passion
It doesn’t matter how small you think the project is, just write it down on your CV. You could have a short section at the end called Interests or Side Projects – that’s where you can fill it all in. You don’t really need dates, area, etc – this isn’t like adding a position to your CV. Describe what you have done, why and for whom in a brief, succinct sentence. You could use a crafty heading for each project if you have more than one. Just don’t list more than two or three.
Some people argue that including hobbies is still worthwhile. I don’t agree, but if you are dedicated to that hobby and it is something you really exercise and live for, then you could mention it, however if you go to ten interviews and no-one ever mentions it, then there really isn’t any point. If it doesn’t add to your marketability as a candidate for a position, then rather leave it off, whatever it is.
Setting you apart
The main point of adding these relevant side projects is that they set you apart from the other job seekers vying for the same vacancies that you are interviewing and applying for. Just like achievements on your CV, extra work in your field is always seen as done by someone that is willing to go the extra mile. Without even opening your mouth, the company is now more interested in meeting and potentially hiring you.
Essential after graduating
I recently found a job for a graduate after sending out one email to one CEO. All he needed to see was the extra projects this programming candidate had completed for his school and library (mainly a very simple book loan system). The initiative needed for him to get off his study-butt and actually program something was seen as very advantageous. That means the graduate also went through some bugs and errors, fixed them and completed a project that he could see working in real life, bettering the lives of real people.
The experience of doing something even so small is a huge boon for a graduate. Most college and university leavers don’t have any experience, so even the smallest bit is very useful, not only on your CV, but also for you as a person in your trade and career. I recall that some employers preferred graduates from UCT, not because of the university name, but because in their final year, they had to complete a practical project together with a real company. That alone was enough for a company to want them above other graduates (and they weren’t even looking at marks).
Having an extra project shows passion for what you do. It shows that you’ve moved through certain learning curves and experiences that set you apart as a job seeker.
So get involved in something related to what you do. Ask around to see if you can help someone who needs what you are learning to do, or already do for a living. Your accomplishments are even more shiny when they include passion and an all-round interest.