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CV Hobbies and Interests: Dos and Don’ts

10 September 2021

CV Hobbies and Interests: Dos and Don’ts

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Recruiters and hiring managers see multiple CVs and cover letters a day.

How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd when they only look at each one for 30 seconds

We recommend using the ‘hobbies and interests’ section to show what you do in your spare time and how your personality is perfect for the job role.

What’s the difference between hobbies and interests? 

A hobby is a pleasurable activity you do regularly in your spare time. 

Examples include:

  • Sports, e.g. football, rugby, cricket, hockey or badminton
  • Music, e.g. playing an instrument, singing, playing in a band or orchestra
  • Artistic pursuits, e.g. drawing, painting, photography 
  • Crafts, e.g. embroidery, knitting, scrapbooking, pottery
  • Outdoor activities, e.g. hiking, camping, skiing, surfing, horse riding, water sports
  • Cooking or baking 
  • Writing, blogging, being part of a book group 


An interest is an area, genre or pursuit you’re particularly passionate about. 

Examples of personal interests include:  

  • Travel 
  • Fashion
  • Sci-fi 
  • Jazz 
  • True crime
  • Anime

What is the hobbies and interests section of your CV for?

A CV and cover letter are used to summarise your professional experience, skills and education to date. 

When applying for a job, a well-written CV sells your skills and education, a great CV gives hiring managers a complete impression of you. 

This is where your hobbies and interests come in. 

Simply put, the hobbies and interests section helps prove that you are a well-rounded candidate. It also helps a hiring manager to connect with you and see whether you will be a good culture fit for their company. 

For those just starting out, it can provide an excellent talking point during interviews. 

If you are right at the beginning of your career, you probably won’t have much professional experience. The hobbies and interests section allows you to demonstrate the things that motivate you and the skills you’ve gained. 

Did you know…?


Hobbies provide you with all sorts of soft skills that are extremely beneficial in the workplace. 

Examples of soft skills include teamwork, problem solving, adaptability, conflict resolution, decision making, empathy, communication, public speaking and time management. 

The hobbies and interests section helps prove that you are a well-rounded candidate. It also helps a hiring manager to connect with you and see whether you will be a good culture fit for their company. 

So, what are the best hobbies and interests to include when writing a CV? 

There are lots of hobbies and interests that you can put on a CV or cover letter. 

Think carefully about what you do in your spare time that will be relevant to the jobs you are applying for and add examples where you can. 

Don’t forget to include hobbies that have won you prizes, certificates or awards; these help show your dedication and legitimise your achievements.

And remember: only list hobbies you’d be comfortable talking about in an interview! 

Examples of the best hobbies and interests to include: 

  • Individual and team sports (tennis, football, basketball, marathon running, swimming, etc.) - individual sports demonstrate commitment, discipline and the ability to handle pressure, whilst team sports show you are a team player.
  • Blogging or writing - being able to write is a great transferable skill that shows creativity and communication. Won an award for your poetry? Include it! Write for a school newspaper? This shows you can work to tight deadlines. Started your own blog? That shows real initiative. Bonus points if you write about something related to the job you are applying for! 
  • Coding - in these modern times the ability to code is an invaluable skill. As well as being useful in various professional roles, it can also show problem solving skills, a willingness to learn and a desire to create new things.  
  • Yoga or meditation - these both show you are disciplined and have a good level of mental resilience.
  • Tutoring, coaching or mentoring - tutoring a younger student in a specific subject or language exhibits excellent communication, organisation and listening skills. This kind of experience can also prove your knowledge in a certain area. Coaching or leading a club is a great way to demonstrate leadership. 
  • Volunteering - do you volunteer at a charity shop or help out at the local food bank? Volunteering is a hobby that shows empathy, communication and teamwork. Volunteering is an excellent interest to put on a CV if you are applying for a role in the third sector. 
  • Certificates or training - Certification in a specific hobby (e.g. scuba diving) shows a hiring manager you are disciplined, dedicated and knowledgeable of a specific topic or area.
     

Can you put any hobby or interest on your CV? 

You might have a whole host of hobbies and interests to put on a CV. But that doesn’t mean you should write absolutely everything you do (as tempting as that might be). 

When it comes to adding a list of hobbies and interests it's important to focus on those that are relevant to the job or career you are applying for. 

That being said, sometimes hobbies and interests that might not seem the most relevant to a job could land you an interview if you add them to your CV properly. 

For example, leading a book club might not seem relevant for a position in a veterinary practice. But the soft skills gained from it - organisation, leadership and communication skills, for example - could prove incredibly useful in the role. 

Take a moment to reflect on what you do outside of work that might link well to the job you’re applying for. What skills have you learnt? 

Think carefully about what you do in your spare time that will be relevant to the jobs you are applying for and add examples where you can.

Hobbies and interests CV examples: tips and tricks

When it comes to listing hobbies and interests on your CV, it’s important to:

  1. Make it relevant to the job you’re applying for
  2. Include details of what the hobby or interest entails
  3. Add how the activity will benefit you professionally, if possible 

Simply listing a sport, society or club does not add much to your CV. Remember, this section is supposed to add interest in you as a person as well as value to the application. 

If you are a member of a society, expand on what your membership has added to your unique skill set. 

For example: 

I am an active member of The Vegetarian Society, improving my organisation and communication skills by helping put on local talks and events and taking minutes at monthly meetings. 

If teamwork is an integral part of the role you are applying for, you will want to mention a hobby in which working as a team is highly valued. 

For example: 

Basketball - played on the local basketball team; organised weekly training and arranged matches, team-building exercises and socials.  

It is clear from the above example that basketball has been a key part of your personal development, teaching you to work well within a team and improving your communication skills. 

If you are applying for a job as a content writer or social media manager, running your own poetry Instagram account is a highly relevant hobby. Detail your experience, making reference to the transferrable skills you’ve gained. 

For example: 

For the past two years, I have run a poetry Instagram account, posting weekly poems on themes including identity, family and loss. In doing so I have learnt to write to self-imposed deadlines and become proficient in social media, amassing more than 2000 followers.

What hobbies and interests not to include 

As mentioned, when putting a list of hobbies and interests on a CV they should be relevant to the job you are applying for, which means certain personal interests may be relevant to one application and not another. 

It’s therefore a good idea to tailor this section to each job you apply for. 

For example, if you are applying for a job that will require you to problem solve, put hobbies that demonstrate logical thinking, such as coding or chess. If you’re applying for a job as a graphic designer, include artistic hobbies such as drawing and painting to demonstrate your creative skills. 

Of course, there will always be some you should not add. These include: 

  • Controversial or sensitive subjects - it’s a good idea to steer clear of topics that could invite judgement. Politics is a good example of this, as it can be extremely divisive.
  • Irrelevant hobbies - if your hobby or interest does not add value to your skill set as a candidate, consider finding one that does. Socialising with friends may be lots of fun, but is it relevant to an insular role where you’ll spend a lot of time working independently? 
  • High-risk hobbies - they might be highly skilled, but if they require you to take time out of work and risk injury, don’t include them. Skydiving sounds incredible but it’s also dangerous, so probably not something you should add to a CV (unless it's at a company that specialises in skydiving experiences!)
  • And of course, no lies, not even little white ones

Don’t just mention your hobby or interest without elaborating - outline what it’s taught you and remember to include any certificates or awards you’ve received!

The hobbies and interests section: key takeaways

Adding a hobbies and interests section is an integral part of writing a CV, especially when you don’t have a lot of professional work experience. 

It can help round out your application and demonstrate your soft skills and creativity. It’s also a great way to show the hiring manager that you are a well-rounded candidate.

It’s important to remember that this section is still about you as a professional individual, so ensure you include relevant hobbies and interests.

Think about all your hobbies and interests and the skills they require. Have you learnt how to be organised? Has your hobby taught you how to better communicate with people from different backgrounds? 

Your skills and hobbies section can really make you stand out from the other candidates. 

The Dos and Don’ts: 
 

  • Do add relevant hobbies and interests 
  • Don’t mention controversial topics that could cause judgement or discomfort 
  • Do think about the soft skills required for the job you are applying for and if you gained those skills participating in your hobby/interest
  • Don’t just mention your hobby or interest without elaborating - outline what it’s taught you and remember to include any certificates or awards you’ve received!


Interested in learning more about CV writing, job applications and how to secure your dream career? Take a look at our immersive career programmes! Choose from 28 of the world’s most desirable industries and get expert advice on how to succeed.

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