Should you include a CV Interests section?
This hub sets out to answer the question: Should I include an Interests section?
The reason this question is asked by job seekers because:
- They already have one on their old CV
- Every template they find includes one
- They think that the fact that they have noticed that the CEO of the company is a Manchester United supporter will get them in
Every word on a CV counts, and unless your CV Interests section includes a fact, skill or competency which is relevant to the job being applied for, it is wholly optional.
If you are a school leaver, graduate, or changing careers?
Te problem of if is answered by the number and variation of skills you have and want to display to an employer. Hence, CV Interests sections are useful to:
- School leavers
- Recent Graduates
- Those who are chnaging careers, and want to show a relevant skill
Free CV example templates include a CV Interests section because they have to be universally applicable to both these types of applicants, as well as experienced managers.
However, for the more experienced applicant, if an employer has already been unimpressed by the time they get to the Hobbies and Interests section, the information that you include at the end of your CV will not persuade them to change their mind about offering you an interview.
In summary, if you include a CV Interests section it must give employers a broader view of you.
What should a CV Interests section include?
The simple test for including a CV Interests section is:
- Do my interests include skills/competencies that this job requires, that my existing positions show little or no evidence of?
This test is very relevant when applying for jobs or companies where there is a large reuirement for proof of soft skills, such as teamwork - eg if you belong to a sports team. They can also add to hard skills - the fact you are not yet a manger in work, but manage a community group would be an additional relevant hard skill.
HR Professionals will look for a balance within a maximum of three hobbies or interests. You must hence always include both quieter / individual pursuits and active / group activities.
However, do think about how your interests might be perceived by other people. An extensive collection of Lego bricks, for instance, does not have a positive image in the public consciousness - being an active member of a model making group would be seen as positive.
How to write a CV Interests section
Like every other section in your CV, amke your CV Interests section work for you. If it doesn't add to your skills or competencies or make you stand out, it probably detracts from your application. Two things not to do are:
- Never include a list - say why you enjoy doing that activity
- Always avoid general statements which could apply to anyone on the High Street. I read as a recruiter too many versions of "Reading, watching television and going out with my friends" - everyone does that!
If you do choose to include an interests section, make it work for you and be specific about the skill or soft gain:
- Avoid "I enjoy reading"
- Use "I enjoy researching local history, and as well as attending local history meetings, am reading books on Liverpool in the Victorian era."
- Or "I enjoy reading the works of (X) because I find them a relaxing and enjoyable experience, which exercises my brain."
Books from Amazon
Awards and excellence - but dont lie!
Where hobbies have resulted in awards, you should always be modest.
Excellence in any field will show to an employer commitment and talent, and national or international awards should always be considered to be pulled up into your Personal Statement or Cover Letter.
But always make sure the achievements are recent: unless it is an Olympic medal, if you for instance won a county level running title 20 years ago but now attended the pub more frequently, then it may seem as though you haven't achieved anything worth mentioning since then.
The advantages of a CV Interests section
The advantage of having an interests section comes when you get to the interview stage.
Well written and focused hobbies are good ice breakers at the beginning of an interview. Hobbies such as sailing, skiing, country dancing and horse riding may not seem unusual to the applicant that practices them, but they are a good talking point.
Golf may not seem an usual hobby, but corporates usually have a sports team, and it is a good way of showing that a candidate is a team player. But again, don't lie on your CV - if all you have done is a day on a golf range, don't include it to impress! Lie's in an interest section can be checked like any claimed skill or qualification, and always come back to haunt you.
Hobbies and interests can be an important part of the CV, although not as important to employers as your actual hard/soft job skills. Employers see numerous CVs for one job and anything that stands out and catches their attention means that the job candidate may have an advantage over the other potential candidates.
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