Do hobbies have a place on my CV? By Chris Cutting

By CV expert – Chris Cutting

It’s one of the perennial questions I get as a CV Coach and Recruiter with 30 years’ of experience. The answer is a little more involved than you might think.

As a list of interests by themselves, hobbies appear insignificant and don’t seem to contribute much to the CV, other than the interviewee’s hope that the interviewer may find some interest in common thereby establishing a connection. At its most basic, you can use hobbies for this purpose but it is limited. Instead, see them as an opportunity to further enhance your application by reinforcing the skill set you’re promoting. Impressions of an applicant, before a recruiter meets them, are created by the sum of the parts of the CV: hobbies are a part of that sum total and therefore not insignificant.

What your hobbies say about you

A good place to start is the question, “what do my hobbies say about me?”. Think of it from the recruiter’s perspective (Agent or Employer).

Imagine that the position you have applied for is a team management role. The CV will mention you have previously led a team and it will showcase the management and cooperative skills you possess. Now, imagine at the end of the CV, the hobbies listed are stamp collecting, butterfly watching, fishing, reading science literature, solo orienteering and astronomy. While these are great hobbies, they are often perceived as lone, introverted activities which are seemingly the opposite of team leading. The potential impression created is that there may be dissonance between the skills you have listed and personality associated with the skills involved in these interests (there will always be a few exceptions to this).

Contrast this with the same CV where the hobbies are Junior Cricket Team Coach, Rugby Team Captain and Coxed Fours. These are team sports requiring management, organisational skills and cooperation. These will underline the professional skills you are trying to promote.

The same applies to highly technical roles that require meticulous attention to detail and fine tolerances. Hobbies can be used to underline your skills in this area. For example, fabricating working model gauge steam trains or building radio controlled aircraft. These contain skills transferable to engineering roles.

The key here is that hobbies can contain transferrable skills into the professional world and can be used to underline the skills you are trying to promote. The only caveat here is that any hobby you mention you must be able to talk authoritatively about, or at least mention the level at which you are at. You must also be currently involved. Finally, if your hobbies don’t relate to the skills required in the role, don’t miss them off but be careful which ones you include and the impression they might create. The ideal would be a mix of hobbies that indicate the ability to work as a team and to work independently, according to the role you are applying for.

If you need advice on how to make the best out of your CV, check out the CV Advisor website here.