A functional CV: a blessing and a curse. A skills-based CV, as it’s often referred to, can do more damage than good unless you know exactly when to use it, and what for.
Adding a list of hobbies and interests to a CV—
—not a good idea, right?
Some say: If you’re bored, you’re boring.
(The hiring manager better not think that of you!)
A well-written hobbies and interests section will prove you’re not a couch potato flicking through endless satellite TV channels in your spare time.
So if you think listing pastimes and passions on a CV is a waste of time (and space), in a moment you will see why this CV section is not the one to cut.
In this guide:
- Should you put hobbies on CVs? What about a list of interests for CVs?
- How to add a list of hobbies and interests to a CV to grab the recruiter’s attention.
- A top 10 list of hobbies and interests to include in a CV for that extra oomph.
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Should You Put Hobbies and Interests on a CV?
In interviews, the hiring manager asks themself: would I ever want to be stuck sitting on a flight next to this candidate?
This is called the airline test.
You haven’t gotten that far in the employment process yet, but an interests and hobbies CV section starts building the picture for them.
A two-year study of hiring managers on cultural matching had some surprising findings:
Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity.
So, adding a hobbies and interests section might be just the ticket.
You’ve got to carefully choose which to include.
There are a lot of CV “golden rules” out there, but there’s one that trumps them all—
Everything on your CV should increase your value as a candidate.
Which ones add value for me?
This is where a targeted CV is crucial.
You wouldn’t list irrelevant skills for a job (like network security on a legal CV). So, don’t put irrelevant hobbies, interests, or passions on your CV either.
Read the job ad to determine what’s relevant.
Examples of Great Hobbies and Interests to Include in a CV
Some hobbies to list on a CV include:
- 3D printing
- Board/tabletop games
- Book collecting
- Book discussion clubs
- Book restoration
- Bullet journaling
- Computer programming
- Creative writing
- Crossword puzzles
- Graphic design
- Image editing
- Listening to podcasts
- Stock trading
- Video editing
- Video game developing
- Wikipedia editing
- More hobbies and interests examples below
More examples of Interests and Hobbies to include in the CV
Sports on CVs is probably the most common addition when adding hobbies. While there are some critics, most career experts agree on the benefit. Lewis & Clark University states that athletic involvement and student-athlete experience helps show communication, collaboration, and leadership skills.
On top of that, it also displays a “work ethic that can set you apart from other candidates.” Coaching Little League is a great team activity which highlights soft skills, such as teamwork and management.
Golf, on the other hand, would only impress the employer if they’re desperate for rivals. Or if the job is to blog about golf.
Blogging is an interest, passion, and/or hobby which definitely can help your CV. For example, I am writing this piece now thanks to my love for writing for my old travel blog. General blogging can be a boon to a copywriting, journalism, or editing CV.
Also, if you blog about a topic matter relevant to the job position, you’ll have a leg up on the other candidates as a sort of insider or expert.
However, my travel blog would be completely irrelevant were I applying to become an electrician or commercial painter.
Having an interest in helping others and giving back to your community is a commendable look. Since volunteering mixes your interests with actual work experience, we recommend you create a separate volunteer experience CV section.
Travelling can be great to add to any role where you may have to travel a lot, of course. Also, it can show off your inclusiveness, well-roundedness, and cultural awareness—perfect for modern work environments.
Art & Design
To get a job as an interior decorator or graphic designer, you’ve got to have a keen eye for design. Having an artistic hobby or interest also subtly speaks of your creativity, making it possibly a good option on a marketing CV, for example.
First off, don’t just say you are interested in music. That’s like saying you are fond of food—everyone is. Once you’ve determined if it’s relevant, be more specific, such as songwriting or playing the piano.
Like music, don’t just put reading as an interest or hobby. Be specific. Also, know that adding reading as an interest or hobby is risky. Sure, it shows that your spare time is spent improving your mind, but it’s a solo task (even when you’re a book club member).
Video games seem as they would be unprofessional on a CV, right? However, they can be useful on an IT-related CV, for example, as gaming often implies a greater understanding of technology. Also, many tech companies or teams even use the multiplayer variety as a kind of team-building exercise.
Games like chess, jigsaw puzzles, or the ancient Chinese Go can show your strategic thinking and long-term planning. As with reading, though, they’re usually risky as they hint at a lack of openness and teamwork which most companies value.
HR managers are often fond of yoga and yoga practitioners. Yoga can show that you’re mindful, calm, in control, and put-together emotionally. Extra credit for you if you run yoga sessions—show all those things with a dash of leadership skills to boot!
Those are our top 10 picks, but of course there are many more.
Here are some other examples of CV activities based on the skill or trait they help to identify:
- Technical skills: tinkering with hardware, writing code, web development, robotics.
- Communication skills: teaching classes, learning languages.
- Leadership skills: mentoring, tutoring, organising events.
- Creativity: photography, playing an instrument, videography.
Expert Hint: Don’t show your colours on politics, religion, or sex, unless you are applying for a job in a political think tank, for example. These are touchy subjects for work environments, even when the HR manager agrees with your point of view.
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How to List Hobbies & Interests on a CV
Now that you have an idea of what to put in your hobbies and interests CV section, it’s time to learn how to add them to your CV:
- Pick only relevant hobbies and interests.
- Don’t add more than 3–5 hobbies or interests, and be as specific as possible, when necessary.
- Title that section in various ways: Hobbies & Interests, Personal Interests, Pastimes or Activities.
- Mention the list of personal interests and hobbies at the bottom of your CV.
Here are some good hobbies and interests examples to consider:
Remember: relevance is key!
Expert Hint: Hobbies and interests on a CV can be used by the hiring manager as ice breakers when you get to the interview. That means, though, you had better know what you’re talking about!
How to Find Interests & Hobbies to Add to Your CV
You’ve decided to add some interesting hobbies to your CV.
But which ones?
To find cool hobbies and CV interests to add, keep three subjects in mind:
1. The team or department—is the hobby one that matches the team’s personality?
2. The company—do your interests match the organisation’s work ethic and culture?
3. The hiring manager—can they relate to the activity or pastime you listed?
To match the team, use the job ad.
So, use it to guide your hobbies and interests area as well.
Let’s look at an example snippet from a QA engineer job ad:
WHAT WE LOOK FOR
- Team Player: we work hard, together.
- People Person: we love building meaningful relationships with new people and our users
- Self-Appetizer: ready, set, go! We take initiative with or without direction
This ad is begging for an extrovert and enthusiastic person, from their wording to the exclamation point.
So, team sports will work best, and don’t add any solo activities. Showing you’re a self-appetizer on a CV can be tough, but implying your expertise in taking calculated risks is a start.
To match the company, look at their website.
For this example, let’s see Squarespace’s careers page.
Here’s a quote I found there:
We anonymously match any donation our employees make so they can support the organisations they care about most—times two. We also arrange programming for team members to volunteer at specialised customer workshops and community activities.
Right off the bat, interests related to giving back to the community (mentoring, volunteering) fit the company culture perfectly.
Here’s another section on the same page:
We also offer up to 18 weeks of paid parental leave, daily gourmet lunches, strong cold brew, and seasonal wellness programming, including meditation, yoga, massages, and nutritionist sessions. And so many snacks.
Here, you can see that they care about health and wellness, so yoga and sports would be fine activities to add.
To match the hiring manager, have a look at their LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn offers a great way to research the hiring manager and see what might just put you ahead of the other candidates.
If you can’t find them on LinkedIn, check the company website’s about page—it may have a little blurb about each employee.
Expert Hint: LinkedIn also gives hobbies importance. How to add interests on LinkedIn? Easy. View Your Profile > Add Profile Section > Interests. Then, add relevant pastimes and interests just as you would on your CV.
Pros and Cons of Listing Hobbies & Interests on a CV
Before you go off to write your own hobbies and interests CV section, keep this in mind:
Every hobby or interest you add can be seen in a positive or negative way.
It all depends on the company, the job position, and the hiring manager.
Let me give you some examples:
|You are analytical and strategic.||You might be quiet and keep to yourself.|
|Well-cultured and inclusive.||Will this candidate be available if we need them in an emergency?|
|You're brave.||You're a risk-taker.|
As you can see, people can interpret things in different ways.
Hiring managers are no different.
The best way to clear any confusion? Make it more detailed:
That bad example above is vague (you could play chess to avoid group activities), while that good example clears confusion.
Remember: A good hobbies CV section will reveal important parts of your personality that wouldn’t be communicated to the hiring manager had you not included them.
Expert Hint: Out of all the various CV sections, the hobbies and interests area is the only place to show your human side. You have three to five bullet points to do this, so make sure to use them wisely!
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When putting hobbies and interests on your CV, remember:
- Only include activities and passions which increase your value as a candidate.
- Personal interests and hobbies you add to your CV should be relevant to the position, company, and the team.
- Remember that employers want someone who’ll fit in well.
- Don’t add more than five hobbies and interests.
- Make the hobbies section the final area of your CV (bottom).
Got any questions on how to add a list of hobbies and interests for CVs? Not sure which activities or passions are relevant? Let’s chat below in the comments, and thanks for reading!