Should you include hobbies and interests on your CV?

woman on laptop drinking coffee

Often neglected from the CV penning process; the inclusion of your interests and hobbies is up for debate.

One of the more neglected parts of CV writing, detailing your hobbies and interests is an unusual area for job seekers. Stuffed at the end of your resume as something of an afterthought, it’s something that’s either skipped over or omitted entirely.

And since the brevity of a CV is often stressed by recruiters across the board, it’s perhaps easy to see why this can happen.  As a result, you may be wondering whether you should include them. Well, we’re here to tell you this section is actually very useful to employers, provided you do it right.

To help you pen the perfect CV, we’ve provided the following tips and advice when it comes to including what you do in your spare time.

Does the job call for their inclusion?

While a job description doesn’t usually call for hobbies to be listed, it’s a good idea to get a read on whether the company would appreciate their inclusion.

If you’re applying for a job at a prestigious law firm, mentioning that you’re a keen homebrewer or enjoy basket weaving might not go down so well. On the other hand, if it’s a hip digital agency where new ideas are welcomed, then definitely show them your creative side. If you’re unsure of the company’s feel or culture, it’s best to stick to your educational and work achievements just to be on the safe side.

image of signing documentation

Keep things as concise as possible

Obviously, you don’t need to write about your hobbies and interests like it’s a cover letter. Long, meandering paragraphs about what you get up to in your free time is a sure-fire way to make a recruiter or potential interviewer lose interest. A few lines of text should provide enough information to give the reader an impression about yourself, but as the next point will make clear, use the space you have wisely…

Link them to the role

If you’re looking to score extra points with the hiring manager, then show how your hobbies illustrate further value by linking them to the role, if possible. If you coach a sports team, then that shows your leadership and organisational skills. Perhaps you volunteer in your free time, an illustration of your empathy and people skills. Make mention of how your hobbies can prepare you for the role should you be hired; make sure you’re not missing out in any opportunity to impress with your CV.

Whatever you think of, aim for one point per hobby, and try to link it to an employability skill listed in the job description, such as time management, teamwork, communication or problem-solving. These transferable skills can be a huge boon to your chances of securing the interview, and later, the role itself.

business interview

Use them to rebrand yourself

Perhaps your career has taken you down a different path from the one you originally envisioned. If this is the case, then sharing your outside interests can be a useful way of indicating the change in where you want to go. Say, for instance, that you hold a degree in a particular subject, have worked in a related field for a few years but now want to apply for roles in other areas. Obviously, your work achievements will be more helpful in this regard, but don’t shun your hobbies here either. Use them as a way to add a different dimension to yourself, showing aspects of your personality that will apply to new roles you’d like to hold.

Looking for more on building a personal brand? Check out these four tips that can help give your professional path a boost.

Be honest and stay focused

It’s tempting to exaggerate on any part of your CV, but make sure you don’t get carried away with things, as this could cause problems if you’re pressed any further at interview. Avoid being boastful; if the recruiter asks you about your weekend five-a-side football, it’s because they want to ask about your teamwork, not because you’re better than all the other players. Back up your statements effectively, and show them why you’re a good fit for the role.

young business woman handing in CV

Similarly, while we’re on the subject of not getting carried away, stay focused and exercise some restraint. There’s no need to list every little thing you do in your free time. Prioritise your pastimes and skip on the ones you don’t feel are necessary to mention. Highlight the salient, significant things that you put real effort in; everyone watches TV, for example.

If you’re struggling to think of hobbies, then reframe the little things. If you are really into watching films, then look at it from another angle; perhaps you’ve parlayed this passion into blogging about them or attending film festivals – the interviewer always appreciates if you can talk about the extracurricular with enthusiasm.

Save the details for your interview

Since space on your CV is sparse, you won’t be able to talk at length about your hobbies too much. If you’re asked about your hobbies at interview, here’s where you can elaborate on the details so that the interviewer can better understand you as a person. It’s a way of helping them figure out whether you’re a good fit into the work culture too; they want to hire people they can relate to and would like to work with, so be prepared to talk about your hobbies a little further on the day itself.

image of financial advisor

It’s important, however, to be mindful of what you say. There are certain topics you don’t touch on at interviews, such as religion or politics; if your hobbies overlap with these things, then tread carefully. Perhaps you’re part of your church’s rugby team, for instance. If the organisation isn’t affiliated with a religion, then it’s best to downplay the religious aspect. 

Should I include them?

There’s not really a correct answer to this. Some recruiters appreciate the extra effort, while for some, their inclusion isn’t so important. If you’re low on space, then you can probably forego including them in any detail. But if you feel they show value or demonstrate your skills then, by all means, mention them.

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