One of the most often asked questions when writing a CV/resume is on the CV Interests section. Quite often people are unsure as to what to add here, let alone how to write it.
The bottom line is that an interests section is optional. Most bland internet templates include an interests section because they can be quite useful to school leavers and early careers, and templates have to be applicable to many different readers and job seekers.
However, the employers focus will always be on the core skills in the CV/resume. If an employer has already been unimpressed by the time they get to the Hobbies and Interests section, the information that you include at the end of your CV/resume will not persuade them to change their mind about offering you an interview. But this doesn’t mean the information included here is not important. A few brief words could catch the employer’s eye and persuade them to take a second look through your skills and experience.
The purpose of a CV Interests section is to give employers a broader view of you. No need to list down everything that you have done since school – maximum of three is the clear rule. BUT People employ People and they really want to confirm that you do have a life outside work and are socially connected to the human race.
Your interests should if included say positive things about you. They can provide further evidence of soft skills, such as teamwork, eg: if you belong to a sports team. They can also add to hard skills – the fact you are not yet a manger in work, but manage a community group would be an additional relevant hard skill.
Employers will look for a balance of interests. Try to include both quieter / individual pursuits and active / group activities. However, do think about how your interests might be perceived by other people. Train-spotting, for instance, does not have a positive image in the public consciousness – being an active member of a railway preservation group would be seen as positive. Likewise, a list of solitary activities will not make you look like a good team player.
Avoid bland, general statements – as a recruiter, I read too many “Reading, watching television and going out with my friends” statements: everyone does that, surprise! It is hence doesn’t make you stand out, and worse of all uses up space and probably detracts from your application.
So if you do choose to include an interests section, make it work for you to stand out from the crowd, and be specific. eg:
- Avoid “I enjoy watching films”
- Use “I enjoy attending film festivals, such as the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester.”
You should not be modest when it comes to any awards you have gained through your hobbies and interests. Outstanding excellence in any field will show commitment and talent – national or international awards should always be considered to be pulled up into your Personal Statement or Cover Letter. If you have won prizes for writing short stories or have won local sporting titles makes sure to mention them. But always make sure the achievements are recent: unless it is an Olympic medal, if you won a swimming title 20 years ago but haven’t swum competitively since, then it may seem as though you haven’t achieved anything worth mentioning since then.
The advantage of having an interests section comes when you get to the interview stage, as well written, interesting or unusual hobbies are good ice breakers at the beginning of an interview. Hobbies such as scuba diving, skiing, dancing and horse riding may not seem unusual to the candidate that actually practices them, but they will be a good talking point. Golf may not seem an usual hobby but most big companies do usually have some form of sports team, and it is a good way of showing that a candidate is a team player – however, if all you have done is a day on a golf range, don’t include it to impress! Lie’s in an interest section can be checked like any claimed skill or qualification, and always come back to haunt you.
Hobbies and interests can be an important part of the CV/resume, although not as important to most employers as your actual hard/soft job skills. Employers see numerous CV/resumes for one job and anything that stands out and catches their attention means that the job candidate may have an advantage over the other potential candidates.