This article was a collaboration between Tricia and Amy.
There is a lot of conflicting opinions on the hobbies and interests section. How much detail do you go into? Which ones should you advertise? Should you even have them at all? We’re going to explore these questions and hopefully get you feeling more confident in that personal section of your CV.
Why have an interests and hobbies section on your CV?
Some people choose to have an interests and hobbies section and others don’t. It’s completely up to you – there are no real rules about this. It might help you to conceptualise it as a bonus section. It is unlikely to be in the shortlisting criteria but the charm of it lies in showing that you have a life outside of work.
Think of this section as a complement to your CV. You might hope that your interests and hobbies will help you stand out. It might well do but that doesn’t have to be the main goal here. We put interests and hobbies at the end for a reason. Depending on what they are, it might just help in showing your well-roundedness which is a great way to round off your CV.
Now, if you are in a situation where you’re relying on your interests and hobbies to get shortlisted then it’s a different story. In this case, you might reframe them in a skills profile if you don’t have any work experience. Sports might reflect teamwork, strategic thinking, problem-solving. Playing a musical instrument might reflect creativity, independence, focus. Please see the CV guide and you’ll find an example on page 47.
What do my interests say about me?
You probably already know that ‘socialising’ and ‘watching TV’ aren’t ideal for your CV. These are almost so ubiquitous that they are hardly worth mentioning.
However, it’s possible you might feel so much pressure to be interesting or stand out that you aren’t sure what to include, or perhaps you are afraid to include it at all. Don’t panic – this is only a tiny part of your overall CV. You don’t have to take up fire juggling to ‘wow’ an employer!
If you enjoy reading, is there a specific genre that says more about you? If cooking is your favourite hobby, what do you like to cook? Arts and crafts – what kind? While you should keep this section concise, try not to fall back on vague statements that anyone could put on their CV. You are unique – sell yourself!
You may worry that this section could detract from your professional image, particularly if your hobbies carry unwanted implications or even stigma. If this concerns you, consider whether you can reframe your hobbies (e.g. ‘pole dancing’ could be ‘core strength training’). Book a CV appointment or drop us an email if you’re not sure.
Another common concern is that blurring personal and professional boundaries can feel uncomfortable. Why should an employer judge you on what you do in your free time? Remember they are not likely to judge you on this section, but instead get a sense of who you are beyond your CV. Their main focus will be your education, work experience and extracurricular activities, so try not to overthink this section too much.
What should it look like?
Keep it short and snappy. Some people highlight the interest/hobby in bold and add a line of further description next to it. Some people just have a brief line of hobbies and interests separated by commas. Do whatever you feel comfortable with. See below for an example of how you could lay them out.
Painting: I enjoy attending art galleries and weekly fine art courses.
Music: Enthusiastic pianist with over 7 years of experience.
Fitness: Core strength training and swimming once a week.
Create balance by being yourself and not a slave to the job description. We both agree that keeping your interests and hobbies the same for every application might be optimal. It’ll save you time, effort, and help retain that constant sense of self. That is, if it’s not tied into meeting the job description – that’s totally up to you and depends on the rest of your CV.
No matter what you choose to do with your hobbies and interests section, you’re now equipped with the knowledge of its purpose, the do’s and don’ts, and the possibilities of how it could look. If you choose to add a hobbies and interests section, it will look great.