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Mentioning Your Hobbies and Interests on Your CV

The hobbies and interest section is an optional section on your CV. Many candidates tend to leave it out to save on valuable space. Yet, including your hobbies and interests can give a human touch to your CV and show recruiters that you are a well-rounded person with a life outside of work. Which hobbies and interests are suitable for sharing with employers?

Most employers will be curious about you as a person and whether you’ll fit into their team culture. As you’ll both be spending a lot of time together, employers will want to know whether they can see themselves getting along with you.

A two-year study on cultural matching in hiring processes showed that:

“Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles.”

A ‘hobbies and interests’ section on your CV not only gives employers a glimpse of your character and personality, but also provides a great basis for small talk in interviews.

If you’ve just left education or have little work experience, that’s all the more reason to write about your interests and hobbies in your CV. The right hobbies and interests will add value to your CV and demonstrate that you have transferrable skills.

Not all hobbies and interests should be included in your CV. A good tip is to think about the position you’re applying for and to select hobbies and interests that complement your skills and experience.

Examples of hobbies and interests to include in your CV

It’s important to be selective about the hobbies and interests you include on your CV. You wouldn’t list every single job you’ve ever had on your CV, so by the same token, you don’t need to mention every hobby you’ve ever pursued.

Here are examples of hobbies and interests that add value to your application and highlight key skills:

Volunteering

Having an interest in helping others and giving back to your communities is highly commendable. Volunteering is a great addition to your CV because it shows that you’re caring and that you’re able to step out of your comfort zone.

Blogging/writing

Communication is a key skill required in every company. Blogging or just about any kind of writing demonstrates that you’re a good communicator and that you can think creatively. Even better, if you can show employers concrete examples in the form of blog posts, essays or novels.

Sports

Team sports such as football, basketball, rugby, etc. show that you’re able to work well in a team. If you’re a captain of a team, it’s a great opportunity to highlight your leadership skills.

Strategic games

Activities like chess and puzzle-solving showcase your intelligence (especially, chess which is a notoriously difficult game!) and demonstrate critical-thinking skills.

Travelling

Travelling shows a keen interest in other cultures and the ability to adapt to different environments. Bear in mind that employers don’t want to read about how you developed your interpersonal skills meeting people in bars!

Be sure to highlight any work experience or languages acquired.

Learning languages

Nowadays, it’s not enough to speak English; the largest companies operate in international environments. Learning a language or two can help you stand out from the competition. Just make you don’t exaggerate your language abilities.

Reading

Reading conveys intelligence and that you like learning new things - a great asset for companies that are constantly evolving.

Yoga

Yoga demonstrates that you’re able to stay calm which is a valuable skill in high-energy, deadline-driven environments. It also shows that you have an outlet for stress and that you care about your wellbeing - employers want a healthy workforce.

Hobbies and interests that don’t belong on your CV

Not all hobbies and interests will align with the professional image that you’re trying to convey to recruiters. Some may even give the wrong impression, for example:

Going out or socialising

You don’t want your employer to think that you might not show up for work after a team event. Also, as most people like to socialise, this activity says little about you as a person.

Gambling

Recruiters may get the idea that you can’t take responsibility and that you have an addiction, even if that might be an unfair assumption.

Extreme sports

Extreme sports such as mountain-biking or sky-diving demonstrate you’re comfortable stretching yourself, but at the same time, raise concerns that they will impede your ability to work.

Religious or political activities

Stating your religious or political activities makes you vulnerable to discrimination.

Listening to music

Everyone listens to music, so this doesn’t tell employers anything about you.

Watching TV

Again, this is not an activity that is unique to you. What’s more, it gives the impression that you’re a couch potato with no other interests.

Family

You may spend the majority of your free time with your family, but this says nothing relevant about your background or your aspirations.

How do you list your hobbies and interests in your CV?

While there’s a distinction between a hobby and an interest, there’s no need to add separate sections for each on your CV.

As you don’t have much space on your CV, priority should be given to your employment history and your education. Add relevant hobbies and interests to the final section of your CV with a short, descriptive sentence for each activity, e.g

Blogging: writing short articles about self-development on Medium.

When not to include your hobbies and interests in your CV

Hobbies and interests may add little value to your CV if you have an extensive career history or you’re applying for more corporate roles.

Before adding a section for hobbies and interests to your CV, research your prospective employer to get a sense of their company culture. If there’s an emphasis on team events in the job description or on their website, it’s safe to say that you can include your hobbies and interests in your CV. If, on the other hand, you get the feeling that the company culture is more formal, it’s best to leave them off your CV.

Whether you include a ‘hobbies and interests’ section on your CV is entirely up to you. Consider the amount of space you have on your CV and whether your hobbies and interests reflect the image you want to portray to recruiters. Bear in mind that including them may just give you the edge over other candidates.