‘I’m very sorry, I’m not sure I have any hobbies…’
Whilst to some it may seem simple to list your education or work history, trying to put your pastimes down on paper can be far more of a challenge.
If you’re not sure whether your hobbies and interests are worth including, here are a few things to remember:
What are hobbies?
Hobbies are activities or pastimes that are carried out regularly in your spare time – usually for fun, but could also be a great way to supplement your income simultaneously.
Common hobbies and interests could include anything from sports, music, and dance, to art, blogging, or reading.
Why include hobbies and interests?
To put it simply, hiring managers are nosy.
While your CV tells the story of your qualifications and your career, the hobbies and interest section reveals a little more of your personality.
Benefits of including hobbies on your CV include:
- Demonstrating your relevant skills for the role
- Helps your CV stand out from the crowd
- Makes your CV more individual
- Allows you to show voluntary and community-focused projects
- Gives you something to talk about during your interview
Do recruiters read them?
Here’s the problem with hobbies: they’re subjective.
Some recruiters are absolute advocates, believing them to be an integral part of well-rounded application. Conversely, some may only consider them important if it’s a close decision, or if company fit/culture becomes a factor.
As a general rule, most recruiters will only be interested in your hobbies if they’re relevant to the role and, crucially – if you’ve ticked all the other boxes.
Where should I include them?
It can be great to show what you do outside of a working environment, but you should never place precedence on your hobbies.
If you do include them, always make sure they come at the end of your application.
Use them to seal the deal, rather than as your key selling point.
Do they always need to be relevant?
OK, so not everyone’s a fan of Morris Dancing. But surely it’s better to include something to help sell yourself than leave more blank space, right? Wrong.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s a fan of traditional English folk dancing. And unless you’ve applied for a job where these skills will be particularly useful, they’ll probably not help you get the job.
Wherever possible, your hobbies and interests should reinforce your application and the idea that you’ll be the right fit for the role – even if it’s just through transferable skills.
Hobbies and interests CV examples
Some examples of relevant hobbies include:
- Coding or programming (for technology jobs)
- Fashion and beauty blogging (for Journalists and Copywriters)
- Sports and conditioning training (for Personal Trainer and jobs in sport)
- President of a society or club (for management positions)
- Strategic games/puzzles (such as chess) (for Project Managers and Developers)
- Mentoring, coaching, and tutoring (for Teachers and jobs in retail)
- Model making and DIY (for jobs in construction and engineering)
- Cooking/baking/flambéing (for jobs in the catering industry/those who want to become professional flambé-ers )
What’s more, your hobbies don’t even necessarily need to be related to your role directly. There are many transferable skills which may come across in your hobbies and be applicable to you application.
Examples include acting or drama skills for jobs in the sales industry, coaching a local football team and demonstrating your motivational skills, and even being a metal detectorist for those looking for break into archaeology.
What if I don’t have any hobbies?
If you can’t think of any particular passions or interests you pursue, don’t be tempted to just stick to clichés.
Socialising with friends, eating out and going to the cinema may be accurate, but are all unlikely to add value to your application. And it’s far better to lose the section completely than to offer up a token gesture.
If you really want something to set yourself apart, you could also take up volunteering. Not only is it a great hobby to have, it can also help get your foot in the door in your chosen industry.
How should I write them?
If you do decide to include some hobbies, style can be just as importance as substance.
Bullet points are fine, but should not be used as a way to list all of your activities individually with zero context. The most effective CVs have their hobbies backing up everything the recruiter has read so far.
For example, a ‘weekly five-a-side game with friends’ becomes a lot more attractive when written as ‘successfully organised a range of regional five-a-side football tournaments, including managing all bookings, venues and participants and helping coach my own team’.
Hobbies and interests CV example
Avid blogger and social media user, and an owner of my own blog. Not only do I use it to write and edit articles about all topics related to sports (specifically football), I also use it as a platform to sell advertising space on a CPC basis. Whilst studying, I also successfully organised a range of regional five-a-side football tournaments, including managing all bookings, venues and participants and helping coach my own team, and contributed to the sports section in the student newspaper and social sites.
So, should I include them?
Essentially, there’s no right or wrong answer for this one.
Some recruiters love the extra detail, whilst others prefer to keep it strictly professional. Their inclusion is never likely to grate on the reader too much, but should always be as relevant as possible. Especially if you’re low on space. However, if your hobbies and interests are used to supplement your income, they could be a great way to demonstrate skills that may not be covered in your work experience section.
If you’re still having difficulty making your decision, use our quick checklist below:
Who should include them:
- School leavers
- Those lacking experience
- Those applying for roles which are directly related to their hobbies
Who should delete them:
- Those who want to cut down their CV
- Those who don’t know what to say
- Those who have no real hobbies
Finally, always resist the temptation to embellish. If you choose a particularly quirky pastime in an effort to impress, chances are it could come up during your interview.
A missing section is always easier to deal with than an awkward silence…
Need more CV advice?
It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.
To find out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, buy James Reed’s new book: The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.