Are your hobbies and interests really that interesting to an employer?

Phil skydiveSometimes it feels a bit like filler on your CV. You scratch your head to think of activities you do outside work and study and you come up blank. What exactly do you put?

It’s not an absolute must have if you can’t say anything sensible or relevant; but most people can!

Think about the heading – what sounds best?

  1. Hobbies
  2. Interests
  3. Activities and interests
  4. Extracurricular activities

3 and 4 probably sound strongest and have most scope.

If you spend all your spare time volunteering this may replace this section entirely.

 What can you include?

Almost anything but it needs to tie in to the purpose of your application – WHY is it relevant, what does it show about you?

  • Sport: playing on a team or leading a team or activity. If a solo sport – it could show dedication if you achieve goals or compete.
  • Peer / pass mentoring if you have not included a volunteering section.
  • Staff /student or Hall rep positions.
  • Volunteering or charity fundraising if it does not warrant its own section.
  • Societies – if you are or have been involved in organising or doing something.
  • Travel – if you gained something from it. Cultural awareness, independence, problem solving, work experience. Simply going on holiday is not enough.
  • Fitness activities like going to the gym, running, yoga etc; can be included but you need to show some reason why they are relevant – do they show dedication or achieving personal goals. Perhaps you use them to wind down and gain perspective and a refresh yourself if you have a busy life.
  • Activities like gardening, cooking or knitting for example. If you just mow the lawn, bake the occasional cake and have knitted a scarf, that’s nice but why do I want to know?  Do you bake for charity, do you knit for friends and family and challenge yourself with new techniques?  Do you grow your own fruit and veg and teach others how to?  What’s your angle?
  • Learning a new language – could go in here until you reach a level of competence, then it and it could go in your skills section.
  • Theatre, dance, drama as long as you are participating in some way – not just watching.
  • Writing  for student or local newspapers even blogging can be useful to build a portfolio.  What’s your thing? What do you write about and why?

If you are the captain of a team or have a committee role in a society or similar these could go in a positions of responsibility section. CV formats are be fluid to reflect your circumstances and the needs of the employer.

Dodgy ground

  • I like socialising and going clubbing  with friends.  (Thanks for sharing but really do I care?)
  • I love reading and watching movies. (Well who doesn’t. What skill are you trying to tell me about?)

If you were part of a book or film group or you had a blog and you critically discussed literature or film – it could show skills like critical thinking, the ability to present and defend well reasoned arguments. (As well as showing you are able to make friends and communicate effectively!)

Perhaps your passion for film / music / literature / art / computer games is actually pertinent to the job. In which case I want detail. What exactly is your passion and how have you demonstrated this?

How do I sell it?

  • What skill do you need to show evidence of? Check the job description.
  •  Which situation will show this off best?
  • Remember CONTEXT ACTION RESULT. What was the situation, what did you do and what was the outcome.

Have a look at our example CVs for some ideas.

Application forms and interviews

You may be asked questions specifically looking at extra curricular activities. Many employers want to see examples of skills from across your life not just work and study.

When writing a personal statement on a job application form, think where your best examples of skills come from. You will often need to cover a long list of requirements from the job description so give a little variety in where you choose to take those examples from.

Is your hobby your life?

For some people their extra curricular activities are the biggest part of their life. Their education or job is there to perform a function it’s not what they live for.

The trick is to ensure that those strong examples of skills that some people get through part time jobs or internships come from your sport or interest.

Just be aware that the person employing you needs to know you will commit your energy to this job. So its a good idea to talk about how you have balanced demands and ensured that your education or work commitments were not affected.

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