How Your Hobbies Can Enhance Your Job Search and Career Development Skills
By Angelica Romano
When one of my mentors suggested this as a possible career oriented topic, my heart started palpitating with so much excitement! I was totally energized thinking about the best examples I could use in expressing the amazing experiences and skills I have gained throughout my years as a dancer and participating in several well-planned vacations. Could it be possible that your favorite hobby, that one thing, or maybe two, that you are passionate about be a way to your enhance your career development and professional job search skills?
There are two things I am passionate about – traveling and dancing…….keep reading and we can find out together if the skills I learned can translate to improving your career development strategies and job search techniques.
1. Hobby - Choosing the Country to Visit
Job Search / Career Development Strategy - Research the Organization
Since I do not have the time or the finances to visit every single country in the world, I do research to decide which country I would like to visit. I look for factors such as its history, population, and political/financial situation. How does this relate to your job search and professional development? You always need to research the company/organization you are applying for. How stable is it financially? What is the company’s vision? What are their short and long-term goals? What does their organizational chart look like? What are the services and benefits provided to employees? As an HR professional, I have performed countless interviews and believe it or not, I still ask the question, what do you know about the organization? And yes, a few individuals have responded, I do not know anything about it. Needless to say--wrong answer. Always be prepared to answer that question. Do not do it for the organization; do it for yourself. You need to make sure it is the right organization for you.
2. Hobby - Traveling to 5 Countries - We Plan Each One!
Job Search / Career Development Skill - Planning, Team Work, Delegation and Organization
You always have to set up time to plan and organize a project. Visualize the end result and plan your time and efforts accordingly. Strategize first! Do not go into any project without knowing what your end result should be. Furthermore, understand that there are different types of individuals. Some individuals like to work by themselves and others as part of a team. I prefer to work independently, however my hobbies have expanded my skills and experiences in working as a productive team member. I used to think --no one can do it better than me. However, due to our extensive planning for vacation trips, I have found that delegation and trust are very important tools and if you give other people a chance you might be amazed how good they really are! A good example is I am planning on visiting four countries along with a traveling friend of mine. We have delegated the research of the four countries in a way that is more efficient and relies on teamwork and trust. She will research and plan for two of the countries and I will research and plan for the other two countries. The end result will be a more interesting and fun trip for all involved.
The bottom line is to accomplish the goal established. Everyone on the team is responsible for accomplishing the goal but might differ in the way they think and process information. Once you understand this, you will be more inclined to work as a productive team member, delegate responsibility and have fun doing it!
3. Hobby - Europe or South America?
Job Search / Career Development Strategy - Cultural Diversity
It is amazing learning about the customs and traditions of other cultures. If you embrace the fact that we are all different and unique many doors will open for you. Find out about the culture of your organization, understand it and embrace it. It will make your job easier. Have you ever encountered individuals that on first impression, you just don’t like them because of something they said or did? Perhaps, they didn’t shake your hand when you first were introduced? Do not judge. The explanation could be as simple as differences in culture and traditions. Get to know the person at a professional level and always be courteous and aware of differences in culture. Do not take things personal at work.
4. Hobby - Road Closed - What to do Next?
Job Search / Career Development Skill - Problem Solving
Has this ever happened to you? You had already planned a whole day of fun, but something goes wrong and you have to adapt? A good example is renting a car and printing directions to get to a certain place while on vacation, but then finding out that the road is under construction once you get there…. Yes, it has happened to me in a country where I did not know the language or the streets. You need to get out of this situation, and you do not have anyone close by to help you. Problem solving is a great skill that will open up many doors for you at a management level. I’m often told by my supervisor that problem solving is THE most important skill for a manager of a company or a leader of a project to have. Use your imagination, creativity, confidence and intelligence. You have the knowledge inside of you; trust yourself and strategize. You will find a solution. Remember the first rule of Problem Solving - do not make the situation worse! Do not act impulsively. Acting without thinking can put you in a worse situation.
5. Hobby - Not Everything is Black and White
Job Search / Career Development Skill - Flexibility and Adaptability
I will use dancing in this scenario. I was on a team of twenty-eight people. We were all different shapes, sizes, color and skill level. Because of all of our differences, we would find ourselves in conflict regarding what steps to keep for the routine, what costumes to wear and how much time was needed to practice. A lot of changes were made by our dance instructors because they understood we were all unique and different. At the same time, the group understood that if we wanted to be successful, we needed to be flexible and adapt. The success of that routine, which was the result of our flexibility, adaptability and teamwork opened many doors for the instructors and dancers. Critiques and evaluations about that routine were nothing but positive. Do not be resistant to change. Embrace it and you will see the results.
6. Hobby – Popularity
Job Search / Career Development Strategy - Develop Professional Relationships
Once again, we are all different. We have different personalities, leadership styles, ways of thinking and doing things, cultures and traditions. Embrace the differences among each other. Establishing a good and diversified network will help your career.
In conclusion, look deep into your life. Your everyday actions and behaviors will tell you which skills you are developing and which skills you might need to improve on. Start by analyzing your hobbies, but do not stop there. This article has actually made me stop and reflect on my behaviors and skills. Think about it and find your way to an even more successful career!
Angelica Romano, Executive Director for Human Resources at West Chicago Elementary School District 33.