Many students are surprised when we advise them to add an “Interests” section to the end of their CV. There are three main reasons why we do this:
It’s another way to show off your experience and skills. What kind of skills and personal attributes is the employer looking for? Which of your interests can best demonstrate these?
It shows an employer that you would have things to talk about with clients. In many roles, employees will be expected to build fantastic working relationships with clients. This could involve meeting clients at a sporting or other social event, or at a dinner meeting. Employers will want to know that you can make conversation. It’s all part of building rapport.
It tells the employer that you have a life outside of study and work. Employers are not recruiting robots! They want to get a sense of what you would be like to work with. Employers are also increasingly aware of the problems of anxiety and stress. It’s useful for them to know that you have outside interests, to help you take your mind off work if the going gets tough.
Some do’s and don’ts of writing up your interests…
Don’t: just list a random mix of interests. For example: “I enjoy walking, reading, playing tennis, and going to the cinema”. If you do this, you are missing an opportunity to fully articulate your achievements, skills and qualities.
Do: organise interests by subheading, and then write a sentence or two (if you have room) on each interest. If you’re writing a one-page CV, then choose one interest that can demonstrate the maximum number of skills and qualities relevant for the role.
Here are some example interests, with some things to think about for your write-up:
Sport: Have you been captain of a team? Have you been part of a sports team for a long time? This demonstrates the ability to work in a team, and commitment. Have you achieved anything significant with that team? Are you learning / have you played an individual sport for a while, and have you ever won any competitions? Or have you had to overcome an injury?
Travel: Have you travelled solo, meeting new people and learning about different cultures? This demonstrates an ability to interact with a diverse range of people. Have you organised a group trip abroad, managing travel arrangements and / or managing a budget? This shows off your organisational skills. Have you completed a challenging trek up a mountain? This demonstrates resilience and motivation – and would make for a good story!
Programming: Are you in the process of teaching yourself a new language or technical skill? Do you take part in Hackathons in your spare time? This shows initiative and a passion for your subject – employers like a learning mindset.
Do: ensure you’re writing up your interests effectively, with the person specification in mind. Take a look at these tips on how to write up your experience effectively, and also this blog on using the right kind of language in your CV.
Don’t forget that you can get feedback on your CV in a 15-minute Applications Advice session, bookable via MyFuture.