Should You Include Hobbies on a CV?

Depending on your industry, experience level and target role, including hobbies on a CV can help an employer get to know you better. However, there’s a fine balancing act between adding value and putting a recruiter off. Primarily, hobbies should only be thought of a conversation-starter at an interview, when you have no relevant industry experience or they specifically relate to the position you’re applying for.

A study by North Western University’s Kellogg School of Management Studies in the US found that around 50% of employers selected candidates with their hobbies used as a reason for them being shortlisted. Hobbies and interests can often be used to judge a candidate’s potential fit into a company’s culture and team they’ll be working alongside.

Five Examples of when to Include Hobbies in a CV:

  • You’re applying for a creative role and you’ve written blogs / created YouTube videos on the industry you’re interested in.
  • You are a student or recent graduate with little or no experience. Including extra-curricular activities, such as participation in university societies.
  • You’ve excelled in sports showcasing your determination and self-motivation. For example: completing a marathon in an impressive time or climbing a mountain in arduous conditions.
  • You’re a captain of a sports team. There are two benefits here: firstly, sport can help you look like more of a team player. Secondly, if you’re a captain, this demonstrates your leadership qualities.
  • You enjoy maintaining awareness of emerging technologies and are applying for a role in IT.

Three Examples of When NOT to Include Hobbies in a CV:

  • They do not relate to your target role and / or industry.
  • Political associations. Believe it or not, some companies 'discriminate' based on your political views. For instance, a job specification posted for a role within the National Offender Management Services states, ‘staff must stay politically neutral at all times, and must get permission to take part in political activities if needed.’
  • High-risk hobbies when applying for positions in traditionally risk-averse environments.

Including Hobbies on a CV when making a career change

If you’ve decided to make the step towards a career change, writing your CV can become problematic due to your lack of relevant experience. Therefore, using hobbies to highlight your motivation for a career change. For example, an IT Engineer looking to secure a role in the motor industry may want to consider including a keen interest in vintage car maintenance.

Read more about our change CV service.

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”…We recommend only including a ‘Hobbies’ section in a CV if you have something particularly interesting to say…”

Don’t Give the Recruiter a Reason to Bin Your Application

If you decide to include a hobbies and interests section on your CV, tread carefully. For example, you might love wine tasting or enjoy brewing your own craft beer. However, if the recruiter is teetotal, this has the potential to put them off before they’ve even interviewed you.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Your CV should be used as a marketing tool, and you are the ‘product’ being marketed. Therefore, no recruiter will care if you, ‘enjoy socialising, reading books and listening to music’ – most people do! Surprisingly, I see this in 70% of CVs.

Never lie in a CV. If you’re worrying that your hobbies are too boring, resist the temptation to make up a hobby in an attempt to sound more interesting. This could (and probably will) come back to haunt you in the future.

Final thoughts

So, should you include hobbies in a CV? Unfortunately, there’s no one right or wrong answer. Think of it this way: do your interests and hobbies demonstrate your ability to do the job you’re applying for? If not, leave them off.

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With 20+ years of experience writing CVs, it still puts a smile on my face when I hear a client has secured an interview Lee Tonge - Founder and Director


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