CV writing: a guide to the hobbies and interests section

Published on: 11 Jul 2013

Should hobbies and interests be included on your CV?

This is a topic long-debated, simply because there is no right or wrong answer. There is though, one main consideration you should make when deciding whether to include hobbies and interests on your CV; how much experience relevant to the role do they demonstrate?

There is arguably no need for hobbies and interests to be included on the CVs of well-experienced candidates – the career histories of these applicants should be enough to convince employers they are worthy of reaching the interview stage. However, the inclusion of leisurely pursuits on CVs can be useful – if not, imperative – for school-leavers, those with patchy career histories, as well as those lacking first-hand experience in an industry they wish to enter (hobbies can denote passion for certain industries and related disciplines).

Even those with plenty of relevant experience may want to include this section on their CV, since hobbies and interests can help to shape a candidate’s character profile and aid distinction from rival applicants. They can also add a personal touch, an element often missing from CVs.

If you do choose to include hobbies and interests on your CV, the key is to ensure pursuits listed are relevant, and help to position you as an ideal candidate for the role on offer. It is not the case that every included hobby needs to be immediately relevant for the vacancy in question (keep reading for details of some exceptions).

Important: If your CV is more than two pages long, your hobbies and interests section should be the first contender for revision or deletion.

Recommended 'hobbies and interests' inclusions

  • Be sure to mention any hobbies overtly relevant to the role for which you are applying. If you’ve forged a career in a particular industry – or if you’re keen to enter a certain industry for the first time – it is likely you already have hobbies relevant to the vacancy in question. Those looking to climb the IT career ladder, for example, may well run their own blog or website, enjoy programming and/or spend much time reading related insights from opinion leaders. Be sure to include one or two interests external to the industry though (use the section as an opportunity to showcase a diverse range of interests).
  • You should also include hobbies which indicate character traits relevant to the role. If the job requires “excellent presentation skills” for example, you might like to mention your involvement in open mic events, or other endeavours involving public speaking or performance. Employers are also likely to be looking for “good leadership skills”, for which relevant pursuits would be coaching a local sports team, or arranging community events
  • Any voluntary work you regularly undertake is definitely worth mentioning in the hobbies and interests section of your CV. Volunteering suggests you are a compassionate individual but never lie about charitable pursuits – you’ll look rather foolish (or worse!) should it be discovered you have lied!
  • It is also wise to ensure you include a variety of interests on your curriculum vitae. You may be a lover of sports and keeping fit, but if you simply list all of the teams you play for, you could appear to be a one-dimensional character. Employers will be seeking adaptable, well-rounded individuals who can integrate easily with their existing team and so indicating you find enjoyment in several different areas is crucial
  • Including one unique hobby can be an effective way of ensuring your CV stands out from those of your rival applicants, and can provide an additional conversation point at the interview stage.  Perhaps you build cigar box guitars in your spare time, or you’ve recently completed a glass blowing course? If you decide to include a quirky pursuit, mention it at the end of the hobbies and interests section – be sure to prioritise those most important to the role in question

Things to avoid

  • Never lie about your hobbies or interests. You may think falsely claiming that you’re an opera aficionado, or an avid fan of Shakespeare might make you sound intelligent to employers. However, you will appear to be the complete opposite should you be asked related questions you can’t answer at the interview stage (“Which is your favourite of Shakespeare’s late romances?”)
  • Do not include the same hobbies and interests on every CV you submit. If you do not customise this section of your CV to suit each individual role you apply for, this will likely be obvious to employers. Including irrelevant activities will indicate you do not care enough about the role on offer to create a bespoke CV
  • Don’t include generic hobbies and interests on your CV – be specific. Examples of generic hobbies include ‘socialising’, ‘listening to music’ and ‘reading’. Most people enjoy these pursuits and so including them will not add anything to your character profile. In fact, their inclusion could make you appear dull to employers!  Of course, these hobbies might be relevant to certain jobs (PR roles, or those in music production, for example) but you should provide extra details – how do you enjoy socialising? What genres of music do you enjoy listening to?
  • Avoid dedicating too much CV space to your leisurely pursuits. We recommended using bullet points to indicate a maximum of eight hobbies or interests. Dedicating too much space to this section can make it seem as if you’ve little to offer experience-wise. Remember; quality is more important than quantity when it comes to the inclusion of pastimes
  • While bullet points are recommended for denoting your hobbies and interests, you should avoid merely listing your pursuits. “I’m a member of my local netball team” can be tweaked to read “As goal defender for my local netball team, I organise county tournaments and strategy sessions.”  The latter indicates the personal traits of being organised and a tactical thinker

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