I lead something of a double life: on the one hand, I work for the business consultancy Academy28, researching and developing tools and services focused on individual and corporate development. In my other job, I’m a university teacher, writer, and researcher. In other words, I spend some of my time dealing with the theoretical side of personal development (the self-motivation tips, the presentation techniques, the job preparation) and the rest of my time ‘at the coalface’: I put it all into practice, focusing on the personal educational development of university students — not in the blogosphere, or in a hypothetical situation, but in the real world.
As a real-life teacher and ‘facilitator’, then, I spend much of the day immersed in my specialist field—the study of literature. This is why I believe that stories matter: I do a lot of writing, thinking, and teaching about the importance of human stories.
So when I came across the following article in the course of my work for Academy28, it was relevant to both sides of my working life:
‘“How storytelling spurs success.’
And this got me thinking.
The reason the piece on storytelling got me interested in the subject – interested enough to write this article – was that it engaged with something I was really passionate about: teaching literature, and letting other people know about the relevance of the multiple narratives that structure our existence.
Well, so what? Not everyone cares about books — how is this relevant to other people? Why should it matter to you? And what has this got to do with careers?
I realised that in order to grab the attention of a reader – whether it be a passing surfer coming across your blog during a period of down-time at work, or the HR manager of a company scanning through your job application – you need to engage with things you feel passionate about.
When you go into an interview for a job, you want the interviewer to know that what you talk about and the character traits you present are examples of passion, not just polish. Anyone can learn off by heart the tricks of the trade that will get you noticed during an interview — what is much rarer is evidence that the position is one you feel a certain engagement with.
The best opportunities, both in life and in your career development, are those that enable you to harness multiple interests and skills, and to demonstrate your personal investment in the opportunity. If you don’t do this, you’ll be bored; if you’re bored, so are any potential employers: how can you expect someone to be enthused by something that you’re not?
Next time you apply for a job, think about the following aspects of your application:
- have you foregrounded your interests?
- make sure what’s important to you isn’t relegated to the very end of your resume
- and don’t leave it out altogether, because you think it’s ‘not professional enough’
- you’re a well-rounded person with outside interests, not a corporate automaton — an interviewer wants to see this!