Hobbies and interests on a CV
Let’s be frank. A CV is a highly professional business document and it is NO place to talk about your hobbies or your personal interests… right?!
Well, not exactly.
Employers love knowing about the applicant’s hobbies and interests. Here is why:
Prospective employers invest in people; they hire and work with human beings, not robots. It is because of this that employers look for every clue in their prospective employees to find out about their true skills and competencies. What better way is there to achieve this than by looking at their hobbies and interests…?
Littleford et al. In their book Career Skills (2004, pg.14/15) state under “other interests”:
“You should include hobbies and other interests, especially if they involve social and community activities. These activities are important – cover membership of societies, sports clubs/teams, etc. All these activities and the extent of your involvement give the recruiter clues about the real you and your interests.”
Benefits of including your hobbies and interests on your CV:
- It will give the recruiter a fuller and more complete picture of you
- Sporting interests indicate that you are fit and healthy
- Involvement in the community indicates good interpersonal skills
- Outside interests tell the employer that you can have a good time as well
- They form a great basis for discussion at the interview stage
Examples of hobbies and what they say about YOU:
|Computing:||Good with technology|
|Swimming:||Keeps fit and healthy|
|Puzzles:||Excellent problem-solving skills|
|Football/Soccer:||Team work skills|
|Socialising with friends:||Team player (rather than loner)|
|Squash:||Highly competitive, motivated|
Martin Yate, a best-selling careers author, outlines three broad categories of sports to include on your CV in his book The Ultimate CV Book (Pg.35):
• Team sports (baseball, basketball, football, etc)
• Determination activities (running, swimming, cycling, climbing, etc)
• Brain activities (chess, etc)
Possible pitfalls to avoid when writing your hobbies on your CV
- Avoid falling victim to stereotypes: listing down heavy metal as your favourite music genre will not exactly sound like music to the ears of all potential employers.
- Keep clear of exposing your political or religious affiliations: admitting that you’re an active member of the local church’ may harm your CV, especially when the potential employer reading your CV is a strict atheist. Volunteered on a number of Labour election campaigns’ is not a very good idea, either.
- Avoid mentioning risky or time-consuming hobbies: it is in the employer’s best interests to have you healthy, fit and able to work; therefore, we advice against writing regular rock climbing in the Himalayas’ as a hobby.
- Irrelevant hobbies: how will Stamp and Coin Collecting as a hobby help you to get a job as an Administrative Engineering Manager? On the other hand (or should we say on the other… stamp), stamp collecting would be a very valuable hobby to mention when applying for a job as a Stamp Appraiser.
- Senior level CVs: senior level individuals such as managers and executives should never have the hobbies and interests section on their CVs. Their interests and hobbies should be clear from their achievements and experiences.
- Including too many hobbies: Usually, if you include more than just two or three hobbies on your CV, the employer is likely to wonder Gosh, when will this person have any time to do some work?!’
The following is a sample of a CV’s Hobbies section with too many hobbies:
- Lying: Having seen a TV programme once (when you were twelve !) doesn’t count as a hobby. You will be asked and scrutinised about your hobbies and interests at the interview stage. Save yourself the embarrassment and do not lie about your hobbies.
- Weird interests: witchcraft and frog dissections should not be hobbies for anyone let alone mentioning it on your CV! Yes, believe it or not, people have actually used these hobbies’ on their CVs…
Ask yourself: how do these interests add value to my application? Try to highlight your ability to interact, help and/or communicate with others.
Tailoring your interests to specific jobs
Different activities can be interpreted differently depending on the job you are applying for.
For instance, playing computer games as a hobby may sometimes portray you as a self-absorbed individual living in their own little (cyber) world.
However, the same hobby can give tremendous weight to your CV if you apply for a job as a video game developer, graphics designer or as a shop assistant at your local games shop!
The rule of thumb is only to include activities that contribute and strengthen the application. If you cannot draw this valid connection then do not include those activities.