Essential attributes that power your CV

This week, in our on-going series on how you might construct a CV that truly sells you, we come to your hobbies, interests and community involvement..

“So what if I won the captain’s prize at 15 years of age,” a candidate might say, “sure it’s a job in IT I’m going for, not a place on the PGA Tour.”

There is a tendency to underplay the value of your personal achievements and interests – and the solution lies in outlining explicitly how those achievements can be used to illustrate the sort of person you are, and the attributes you bring to the workplace.

Champion swimmers can justifiably claim a capacity to commit to a task. Swimmers rise at the crack of dawn to get in 90 pool minutes before going to school. If that doesn’t prove dedication, what does?

A person who is a dab hand at debating can stand over a boast that they have excellent communication skills. And so on, so forth: in a job-seeking sense, the core skill you deploy in your hobby (e.g. swimming) may not be as valuable as the attributes that support it (dedication, commitment and self-respect, to name but three).

In your CV, talk about those supporting attributes. If you want the employer to know that your swimming career shows you to be someone who persists with even the most challenging of tasks, tell them just that in those words, more or less.

The rule of thumb of CVs and interviews is that if you want the reader to know something, tell them. Don’t rely on clairvoyance.

Making sense of the sites

Q: I’ve just been made redundant and am now back job-searching for the first time in 15 years. The whole landscape has changed dramatically since last I dipped my toe in these waters. I’m reading about job sites and recruitment agencies, but am not really sure how to navigate them – the whole area seems so overwhelming.

A: Take it step by step, find out the areas you want to concentrate on, and focus on those.

The main advice I would give you when starting to access job sites and recruitment agencies would be to identify the ones that best suit your line of work. Do a general search such as, for example, ‘jobs for chefs Ireland’.

I’ve just done that here, and it throws up a cool 7,777,000 results, by the way. Look at perhaps the first 20 results there and see which sites come up regularly.

The first five results I’ve got are from,,, and Go into each of those sites and see how many jobs they have for chefs or in the general catering sector. Start a list of ‘good sites’ based on what you find here.

To delve deeper, I’ve just gone into I learn that it is a recruitment agency specialising in the catering industry. Its most recent chef job was posted eight days ago (in Co. Cork). I also notice that it posts jobs from overseas.

Repeat this process for the first 20 sites that come up on the search. Start to build a profile of what’s out there. Make your list, identifying the sites and agencies you need to contact, and take it from there. Each one will have different ways of applying for jobs, so just follow the instructions in each case.

For a free critique of your CV, simply go here: Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Limerick, Dublin, and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. More: