Including your interests on your CV

There’s always a lot of debate about the Interests & Activities section.  Should you or shouldn’t you include one on your CV?

As with many other aspects of your CV, there are reasons for and reasons against.

First let’s look at the reasons against including such a section:

  • Space is normally at a premium in a CV.  It is vital to prioritise and only include information which will help to make your case.  So why include your hobbies and pastimes?  Are they relevant?
  • A number of surveys have resulted in comments from recruiters that Interests & Activities sections are “a waste of space” or, worse, “tiresome and tedious”.
  • A trained recruiter should theoretically totally disregard this section when short-listing – because it’s technically of no relevance whatsoever to the candidature and is notorious for including exaggerations and mistruths.
  • An interesting survey by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation found that 71% of recruiters had actually decided not to short-list a candidate purely as a result of information they put under Interests & Activities.

Now let’s tackle the reasons why you should include such a section:

  • Whilst nobody has yet conducted a survey specifically to research this, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of recruiters deciding to call someone in for an interview purely as a result of what they’ve included on their CV under Interests & Activities.  I, for one, will admit to having done so when hiring.
  • We are naturally attracted to people who share our own interests in life so if your interests match those of the recruiter reading your CV there is a high probability it will increase your chances of their interviewing you.
  • Without an Interests & Activities section a CV can be rather a cold, lifeless document.  Including brief details of what you do outside of office hours can bring a much-needed personal touch to a CV.
  • Sifting through large piles of CVs can be very tedious indeed and reading the Interests & Activities sections can make the task that little bit more interesting for the recruiter.
  • Anything (within reason!) that can help your CV stand out from the crowd and grab the reader’s attention could give you an advantage over other potential candidates.
  • Whilst saying that you enjoy ‘socialising’ might well come across as a “tiresome and tedious waste of space” in the eyes of a recruiter, with a little thought and effort you should be able to come up with some more imaginative alternatives.
  • Giving an interviewer the opportunity to talk about your Interests & Activities can be an excellent ice-breaker.
  • Besides knowing whether you’re capable of actually doing the job, most employers are keen to know what sort of a person you would be like to work alongside.  Yes, they can get an idea at interview but your Interests & Activities can also give them some insight.
  • Employers are generally keen to have a diversity of characters within their team and are always on the lookout for someone who can add a new dimension to the team.

So what to conclude?

Yes, I have listed more reasons for including an Interests & Activities section than I have listed not to include one.  And, for the time being, I remain firmly convinced that you most certainly should include such a section on your CV.  But – and this is very important – you most certainly should not go overboard on it.  Keep it short.  Keep it simple.  Don’t write a whole essay about what you do in your spare time!