Careers consultant, Edith Karinthi-Durnez, explores whether you should be listing hobbies and interests on your CV – and how to do it!

When reviewing CVs in one-to-one appointments, or during seminars about optimising job applications, I’m often asked whether it’s a good idea to add a section called ‘Hobbies’ or ‘Interests’ to a CV, and what that section should include.

That’s a pertinent question indeed: why would a recruiter be interested in knowing that you like running, photography or acting? Featuring your activities outside of your studies and work in a few lines at the bottom of your CV can actually be quite compelling and make you stand out during the recruitment process – if you do it right.

Whilst most of your CV tells the story of your education and work experience, skills and achievements, your interests reveal a little more of your personality and values. They can show how passionate, open-minded, playful, voluntary, patient, persistent, entrepreneurial, driven, risk-taker, or community-focussed you are.
These traits can each be relevant for specific roles, and all of them definitely can demonstrate you’re a balanced and well-rounded person, whose interests extend beyond work and studies.
A further reason to mention your interests on your CV is that you’re likely to be asked about them during an interview! What’s better than being on familiar ground and talking about your passion for a few minutes?
This section of your CV could also be the ideal place to showcase further skills and achievements relevant to the job you apply to.

Now, how do you present your interests the right way? Hobbies generally refer to pastimes and leisure activities, whereas interests may encompass a wider range of activities, including professional development or positions of responsibility. Therefore the headings ‘areas of interest’, or ‘extra-curricular’, work well.

Here are three top tips to make the most of this section:

  1. Be specific when you mention an interest, by adding context, facts, numbers or achievements; mentioning a few detailed interests is better than trying to list them all;
  2. Tailor this part of your CV – as you would the rest of your CV – to each of the jobs you apply to. Think of the transferable skills to demonstrate for the role, and of the working culture of the organisation;
  3. Mention any subject that you’d be happy and at ease to talk about for three minutes.

And now, let’s consider a few examples and what traits and skills they may feature.

Running twice a week and recently finished a 10km race to raise money for St George’s Hospital Charity.
Shows you like keeping yourself active and fit, you like to meet the targets you’ve fixed for yourself, and you’re committed to a cause.

Recently elected to lead and manage the Blockchain society, which is a hub for all students who are passionate about economic, political, legal and social implications of blockchain.
Shows leadership, organisational and interpersonal skills as well as an acute knowledge in finance and technology.

Organised three trips across six countries in Europe and Asia over the last three years.
Sounds better than just “travelling” and shows curiosity, initiative as well as planning skills and intercultural awareness.

Playing several instruments including piano, guitar and accordion.
Demonstrates creativity, openness, playfulness as well as self-discipline to learn and practice a new instrument.

If you can’t think of anything, it might be time to expand your horizons. There are a few great ways to do this: you could consider taking a volunteering opportunity, which is something valuable you can talk about, or you could consider taking a training course or MOOC to expand your skill set, learn something new and enrich your CV.

Still unsure about how to structure your CV or looking for advice in general on your CV, cover letter or application? Book an appointment on CareerHub for feedback.