How important are hobbies to a CV?

You will find an abundance of online help when it comes to writing a CV, and these days you can even find a ready made CV template to simply insert your amazing talents – what a helpful world we live in!

Although it’s easier to write a great looking CV nowadays, the drawback is that the employers will expect a much higher quality of applications.

When looking to gain an advantage over your competition, every single section of your CV counts towards making a great impression, and so leads us onto the hobbies and interests section – does it really matter to the employer, and will it make any difference to your chances of an interview?

Understand the importance of hobbies

What you get up to in your spare time is of course not nearly as important as your skills, qualifications and experience. After all, the employer is solely interested in finding the right person for the job. So who really cares about your leisure time?

The answer is, your employer does, to the extent that the hobbies you have add a little more value to your CV.

See how hobbies can add value

If your hobbies and interests are quite run of the mill, like going to the cinema, eating out with friends or reading a book, you are not going to be adding any value to your CV. If you want to put them on then go ahead, but just be wary of how these hobbies may come across to an employer – at best, they’ll be disregarded.

Mundane hobbies don’t of course mean that you are not qualified for the role, but they don’t scream dynamic or passionate either, and they don’t help set you apart from other candidates.

Highlight creative or sporty hobbies

There are certain hobbies which will add value to your CV, and they tend to be either creative or sporty. For example, if you are the captain of your local netball team then you are clearly a leader and someone who people look up to. You were chosen for a reason, and this could be what the employer is looking for. It also suggests you like to stay in shape, which translates to less sick days.

If you’ve spent the better part of ten years creating an amazing model railway in your attic, then this is certainly something you should share on your CV. This kind of creative hobby shows dedication and passion, which is again something that an employer would be looking for in an individual.

Immerse yourself in your industry

Your extracurricular hobbies are an opportunity for your prospective employer to see your leisure time put to good use. If you are a web designer then you may have a fantastic online portfolio to show off, so provide as many links as you can on your CV.  If you’re a developer, evidence that you’ve immersed yourself in your industry and contribute/comment regularly shows that you’re keeping your knowledge up to date and you’re passionate about what you do.

Talk about valuable skills

If your main hobby relates to the role you’re applying for, then this could give you an advantage over the other candidates who chose to put ‘socialising with friends on the weekend’ as theirs.

However, unrelated hobbies may also be of interest to an employer where they are usable in the workplace. For example, if you’re a great photographer, your prospective employer might consider using your skills for company brochures, literature and events – even if this isn’t relevant to your role. If you’re competent at video editing, your employer might want you to edit some footage for its social media accounts or other promotional channels.

Don’t undervalue family time

If you don’t play sports or have a model railway in your attic, this doesn’t mean to say that you are not the right person for the job. It just means that you have to think more carefully about what to include in the hobbies section. For example, if you are a very busy family man or woman and don’t have a lot of time spare outside of work, then it may seem a little unfair to expect you to be the captain of a football team. However, this doesn’t mean to say that being a family person isn’t also something to shout about.

As a parent you have a lot of responsibilities – paying the bills, raising a family, juggling life and work, and so on. You have to be organised, responsible, hard working, dedicated, and can work well under pressure. Your life is very different from that of someone who doesn’t have children, and this can sometimes make a difference to the perception you give when the manager reads your CV. Listing spending time with family/your children as one of your hobbies suggests that you are a caring person who has been through the experience of having children and who understands the importance of taking responsibility.

In conclusion…

Hobbies can give you a small advantage over your competition, and when it comes to writing a fantastic CV your hobbies could just be something that makes you more memorable to an employer.

If you play in a band then why not provide a link to a YouTube video of you rocking out? If you like to paint or play the piano, then why not provide a link to your website showcasing your paintings, or to a video of your recent recording of Mozart?

You don’t want to overshadow the rest of your CV by going overboard on your hobbies, but at the same time you should never underestimate the potential of leaving a positive lasting impression with the employer.

‘Hey, this guy can play piano and is the captain of a sports team, and he has the right skills we’re looking for – he seems like an interesting person…’

About Martin Carline

Martin has been a senior manager of a large customer service team within the education services industry, dealing with all aspects of staff recruitment and management. He now authors and manages content for CV Template Master and a number of other leading websites. In his spare time, Martin is an accomplished pianist and teaches all styles with a particular focus on boogie woogie and blues.

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