Q: I play darts. I regularly win trophies, and am proud of my successes. Should I put it down on my CV? Or would a talent for darts suggest I spend an inappropriate amount of time in public houses? I know it might sound like a joke question, but I am deadly serious. I’m an unemployed salesperson, seeking to get back into work after being laid off four months ago. (Tony, Galway, email)
A: Now that’s what I call an interesting question.
You see both sides of the equation yourself. You see the benefit of having committed yourself to an endeavour, fine-tuning your talent to the point that you became quite proficient, and something of a leading figure in the game locally.
But you also touch on the perception that darts is closely linked with alcohol. As the saying goes, “you don’t have to be a beer drinker to play darts, but it helps.” I’m not adjudicating here on the veracity of that link, but, like you, merely observing it.
I’m always inclined to find a way of including achievements in a CV. They’re not employing someone who can throw darts, but, in many jobs, they like to see a record of commitment, achievement, goal-setting, and personal ambition.
So if I were you, I would put darts on my CV – and I would talk it up. I would include a bullet-point along the lines of:
“Keen competitive darts player – committed to improving my game – have achieved my goal of winning the ABC League. Enjoy the challenge of perfecting the skills involved, and the thrill of remaining composed and focused during intense competition.”
That way, you get the benefits of it. If you simply write ‘darts’, they might see it only as something you do when in the pub. Use the game to tell something valuable about you.
Also, darts has a social side, and a social side is no harm at all in the sales game. If you’re playing competitively outside your own town, you are getting to meet other people, and perhaps you have already built up useful relationships with potential customers.
My greatest strength
Q: Last week, in an interview for a business development role, I was asked to describe my greatest strength. I I listed about six strengths, and didn’t really have the decisiveness to settle on one. What should I have said (Julie, Bundoran, email)
A: I can see how this happened to you. It can be a bit un-nerving to isolate something as your greatest strength. People tend to avoid absolute statements.
We would recommend that you list some of your strengths very quickly, before concluding with something like “of the various strengths I believe I have, I feel my capacity to spot market openings is my most important.”
Make sure to select a strength that is particularly relevant to the job at hand. That’s the key to the answer: matching your strength to their needs. In that way, it is a microcosm of the interview as a whole.
This week’s top tips
Using acronyms can be dangerous. They can confuse people, perhaps even annoy them. So spell them out in first reference in your CV and/or cover letter, and put the acronym in brackets. Later, you can simply use the acronym.
So the first time you mention the Football Association of Ireland, you should spell it out just like that, and put FAI in brackets.
If you’re mentioning it again, FAI will suffice. You would be surprised how many people use acronyms that serve only to confuse the reader.
It’s only a small thing, but sometimes small things make a big difference on the job-hunting front.