Share Your Background with First-Time Employers

By Roberto Angulo

Your unique life circumstances can help you tell your story to an employer. The head of university recruiting for a major global technology company, said that she wouldn’t put too much emphasis on a student’s GPA when making hiring decisions. This is because not all students are able to focus on academics. Some students are luckier than others and can focus entirely on school without needing to work. Others may be working to support their family while also taking a full course load. This can affect their ability to get the highest GPA.

Not all recruiting teams are as aware and mindful as this group. Which is why it’s good to talk about your circumstances if the opportunity arises during conversation. You don’t need to make people feel sorry for you or create a sympathy story. And you shouldn’t. But it’s okay to share any special circumstances as long as the opportunity comes up and you don’t have to go out of your way to do this.

On the flip side, it’s also good to share circumstances that give you perspective. Examples of life circumstances that may come up in conversation can include the following:

  • Living in different countries: If you lived in other countries, this gives you perspective and shows that you’re open to other ideas and cultures. This tends to be a quality highly desired by employers. If you speak another language, that’s even better. You could be hired to represent or do work for an organization in the specific country.
  • Constantly moving: If you constantly moved as a child because of your family’s work, whether because a parent was in the military or had a private-sector job, this shows that you’re accustomed to change. Organizations, especially large ones, are constantly changing. You can weave your experiences into your cover letter when you talk about why you’re a good fit for an organization.
  • Being in foster care: Being a foster child could mean that you had to deal with uneasy change as a child. Although it’s personal, your story could be an interesting one to share with an employer if appropriate and if it comes up.

Keeping your personal life separate from work is a good rule of thumb and employers are not supposed to pry into your personal space. But if the opportunity arises to talk about yourself during an interview, it’s okay to mention some of your experiences. They shape who you are and help the employers know more about you.