I have seen hundreds of students for appointments to talk about CVs and if there is one section that consistently causes confusion it is the hobbies and interests portion. The key is to use the space wisely. Or if you can’t, don’t use it at all. The absolute worst is to plug something into the section for the sake of it. This approach usually results in vague or meaningless statements.
Here is one you might be familiar with: “I enjoy reading and socialising with friends.” Snooze. What is this telling your prospective employer about you? It’s so vague that it is dangerous. When I see this line, my inner cynic reads it as: “I read my Twitter feed and I like going to the pub”. Alternatively: “I have no imagination.”
So what to write?
The key is to be specific. If you do really like reading, point out what sort of things that you read. Flag up your passion for historical biographies/technology publications/French poetry, if that is what you mean. Although, there is a find balance here too. A few years ago, the Careers Group published a post on the subject which is worth digging out. The post sets out the various personality types that might come out of this section. My favourite is this: “I like to browse eBay for additions to my extensive novelty snowglobe collection”. The author of that post describes this personality as ‘the weirdo’. The lesson is this: be specific but don’t go mad. Avoid the risk of looking as though you aren’t taking the application seriously.
Can you skip the section altogether?
Of course. If all you are able to come up with is the “socialising with friends” line, the section will likely to more harm than good. On the other hand, it is worth remembering that this section is another opportunity to highlight relevant skills. So if teamwork is key, pointing out that you ‘enjoy singing in a choir, with weekly practices and regular concerts’ can go some way towards showing the employed that you fit that aspect of the job spec. Whether or not you include this section in your CV is down to you but do at least be sure to have thought about it. The section usually comes towards the end of your CV; it’s worth making sure that the last impression counts.
Careers & Enterprise Centre