No matter how happy you are at your current job, it never harms to attend interviews from time to time, not necessarily for changing your job but to keep your skills sharp and always be in shape. With that in mind, I was on a technical interview recently, and as you may have guessed by the title I put my travel blogging experience on the first page of my very tech-oriented resume. Not surprisingly my interviewers asked about it with a kind of faces like…
I will explain how it is very related to the software engineering job, and why you should generally put the things you do in your life straight into your resume. Whether you’re a financial analyst with a soul of an artist👨🎨, or a salesman with a passion for singing🎶, whether you’re an architect obsessed with cooking👩🍳, or a programmer with a soul of a traveler🌍 (hi, this one is me 😃), think about the relationship between your two personalities, and how one improves the other, and how your hobby shapes you as a professional. Just ask yourself — “How do I stand out from the crowd? What is unique about my personality that differentiates me from hundreds of other analysts/salesmen/architects? What are the qualities that I develop outside of my job that may help me to do my job?”
I’ll share my thoughts about the relationship my profession and my hobby have, and I encourage you to think about yours. So I believe that my travel blogging “career” and my obsession with travel and photography demonstrate several qualities that are crucial for software engineering:
I have started a blog, I regularly add a new content in it, it has a good following and social media engagement, and I keep everything active and up to date. What does this demonstrate? It demonstrates that I’m committed to it, it proves that I’m able to start something and commit myself to it, and not just start something and drop it later or give up in the middle of the process. So commitment — very important quality for software engineers.
The fact that I’m eager to travel the world and share the beauty of the world with the people demonstrates an immense curiosity I have — a curiosity to get out of my box, to explore the world to the fullest, do things I’ve never done before, try out some weird food, meet new people from all over the world and learn about their culture, it demonstrates how eager I am to expand my experiences and learn more and more. So curiosity — I hope every engineer would agree is a vital quality for being a creative professional.
I feel truly blessed when people reach out to me saying things like “Hey I just stopped by to say thank you for sharing this, it has inspired me to visit this place” or just “Hey your pics are so bright and colorful, it just made my day”. That’s when the magic happens — those moments when you realize you have added a small bit of positivity to the world. And it is the ability to inspire people that makes great leaders, teammates or colleagues. Whether I’m a software engineer in the team, or a team lead later in my career, I truly believe that being inspired by what you do and inspiring your people to do their best is what makes a great team, and it’s the great teams that deliver great things. So inspiration — a noun that makes the core of every great technology.
I believe that as professionals we’re not just defined by what we do during the 8 hours in the office, we as professionals are defined by what we do in the entire 24 hours we are given in a day. What do you do after your work that develops the qualities you need in your work? What makes you the interesting/funny/bright/shiny person you are? It is the unique individuals that add value to the companies, it’s them who bring change, fresh ideas, enthusiasm and energy to the teams, and I strongly believe each of us should demonstrate our uniqueness on our resume. So yes, I may say I’m unique because I created a blog that’s different from other travel blogs, I share my very honest feelings about the places I travel, I believe that cities have unique character just like us and I’m on my journey to discover the character of cities in the world, I have my own style of writing and photographing, and last but not least, I’m probably the only person who got a phone call from an Indian guy calling me to say that my blog’s layout is ugly and I need to hire his company in India to come up with a great UI solution for my website 😃 So uniqueness — be that ugly or pretty, is what makes you an individual, and we need individuals in every role, be that a software engineer or a cook, a designer or a teacher.
So I strongly encourage you to pursue the things you’re passionate about, create some value out of it and demonstrate it in a way that will make your unique personality shine. Don’t be afraid to put “unrelated” things on your resume, just be prepared to explain how it is very much related to what you’re applying for. And if you’re on the hiring side of the table, I would again encourage to look for people with strong individuality and unique personal qualities, it’s them who make great companies great.
Oh, and if you reached to this point you might probably want to see that “ugly” blog I was telling about so long 😃 It’s called Lucy’s cities, not particularly a creative name for a blog that tells about the cities that Lucy has visited 😃