As we are increasingly encouraged to bring our “whole selves” to work, there is no reason why there shouldn’t be a hint of more personality at every stage of the recruitment process.
A CV will always be a professional and factual reflection of what you can offer a future employer, but it is tough to inject much personality into your work experiences and accomplishments. That is why more applicants are choosing to dedicate a line to their hobbies and interests, especially if they showcase desirable aspects of their personality.
Hobbies and interests certainly won’t be a reason to hire you, but if you feel that they fit in with the overall story that you wish to tell a future boss, there is every reason to include them.
However, take care, not everyone will view a hobby in the same way. Some may think that skydiving shows a sense of adventure, while others may consider it a little reckless. Would an avid skydiver make a good librarian? Stereotypes would suggest not.
In this guide, we seek to explore the pros and cons of including hobbies and interests in a CV. Is this line or two of space going to do a better job than an extra line of summary or work experience. That is the question that you should ask yourself. We consider:
- When should you include hobbies and interests on a resume?
- How to pick hobbies that complement your application
- 25+ interests and hobbies and how to “sell” them
- Which hobbies and interests might you avoid?
If you hit the jackpot, including a certain interest may even help you to build a rapport with an interviewer. They could be keen on the hobby themselves or know someone that is passionate about it. People hire people, so seek those connections however you can. Someone who can find enough balance in their life for a worthwhile hobby is someone who will likely be able to handle the demands of a busy job.
When should you include hobbies and interests on your resume?
You love birdwatching, but you are unsure whether your little feathered friends should make it into your CV. Ask yourself whether the demands of your hobby match what is expected of you in the workplace.
Is it a job that requires patience, attention to detail and a calm approach? Will you be expected to do much of your work independently? Is it the sort of job that doesn’t bring immediate rewards, irrespective of how much effort you put in? If these questions ring true, then birdwatching would be a great addition to a CV.
Never include a hobby if you are not passionate about it (as that can backfire if a conversation about it begins at an interview). Hopefully, you can see that from the example above there are definite advantages to matching relevant interests with each role.
Don’t go overboard, though. Just write one line and separate hobbies with commas. Only include details of a certain accomplishment if it is genuinely impressive (and rare). Put the line with your hobbies and interests right at the end of the CV – after your education details.
Something like the following should impress most hiring managers of an early career grad: “Swimming – 1,000m backstroke u18 record. Song writing – lead singer in a country band.”
25+ hobbies and interests for your CV
The following section explores a range of hobbies and interests with ideas about why a hiring manager might take an interest. You need to leave this up to their imagination. Do not replicate these long descriptions in your CV. Let them work out the benefits.
Sport can involve a host of teamwork activities and I can also showcase individual perseverance. Our suggestion would be to only include a sport if you compete at a high level and can demonstrate your drive for results. Learning from losses is important for anyone.
- Swimming. Working to shave milliseconds off your personal best can involve thousands of lengths and miniscule improvements in technique. There are few more dedicated sportspeople than competitive swimmers.
- Any team sport. All team sports involve individual effort in combination with group dynamics. You have to learn to adapt to the varying abilities of those around you, encouraging those who struggle and leading from the front where possible.
- Yoga. There are certain activities that say a lot about your mental resilience. With mental health at the forefront of the HR agenda, mentioning that you practise yoga marks you out to be a certain type of person. Meditation and visualisation matter.
- Dance. Being physically fit brings mental benefits, so dance is one of those hobbies where you can enjoy yourself and keep healthy. Everyone likes to work with an energetic and positive person — this is what you imagine when thinking about dance.
Outdoor pursuits often require creativity, determination, and sound judgement. Many corporate away days are held at such venues for a reason. When people push themselves, they realise that their limits are a little higher than they previously thought.
- Mountain climbing. Trusting in your skills and in those of the other people holding the climbing ropes is an integral part of climbing. You may not be placing your life in the hands of others at work, but the ability to trust does not come easy to everyone.
- Camping. If you enjoy the serenity of camping and are happy with your own company, there are many jobs that require a singular focus and an ability to block out distractions. Going camping also requires a good deal of organisation.
- Orienteering. Most of us have felt utterly lost at work at one time or another. Orienteering involves taking a breath, looking around at the landscape, and deciding on a new way forward. Only the brave take the road less travelled.
The creativity and focus involved in playing in a band or orchestra should not be underestimated. As with team sports, one wrong note can spoil the whole performance. The abilities to perform under pressure and master new skills are prized in many careers.
- Band or orchestra. The coordination and responsibility of delivering your part in an orchestra or a band cannot be underestimated. You are an individual within the whole, much as within any corporate setting.
- Songwriting. Have you ever sat wondering how to word an important email? Many of us take far too long in our search for the right words. While your resume might not hint at your wordsmithery, a hobby such as song writing would do the job nicely.
- Singing/gigging. One of the biggest obstacles to career progress is the ability to sell your ideas to a larger audience. Having the confidence to walk into the boardroom and wow the audience is easier if you are an entertainer on the weekend.
While volunteer work may not be seen as a hobby or interest, it is a perfect fit for this section as it is unpaid and is not suitable for the work experience section. Choosing to do something worthwhile for free shows a generosity of spirit. You may wish to share a sentence or two about your volunteer work if it is relevant for the role.
- Charity/fundraising. Sharing a passion for charity work shows that you thrive on helping others. This is such a valuable attitude within any team environment, so be sure to include any significant stints of charity work.
- Community events. Doing work in the community will set you apart as a caring soul who does not mind mucking in and doing the unglamorous work for the good of the collective. It may well be a way to bond with the interviewer over a common cause.
- Environmental work. Caring about the environment shows that you are unselfish and thoughtful in your approach to life. When we are mindful of our impact on the world around us, we notice many things that others may not.
- Coaching/mentoring. Mentoring opportunities come along all the time outside the workplace. If you are a regular mentor, mention it in your interests section. Talk about whom you have helped and what impact you brought.
With visuals and video increasingly dominating our lives (not to mention a future in the metaverse), artistic ability is becoming a real bonus for many roles. Alongside the benefits of creativity, the arts offer an outlet for stress and are a great way of achieving mental balance.
- Painting/drawing. When you stare at a blank canvas you need to visualise the picture that you wish to create. Not every brush stroke will be perfect, but the final painting will be a combination of thousands. Some things take time.
- Photography/video production. Few people have the eye for a shot. A skilled photographer/videographer can capture the essence of a scene or a subject in such a way that grabs the attention of an audience that never has enough time.
- Design. Impactful design is all around us, influencing us with every glance. If you are passionate about design, you will have much to add to countless projects. It just takes one great idea to make a step change for your company. Will it be yours?
Everyone is a writer, but some of us understand the power of words more than others. Taking your time to deliberate over how words are received is a delicious pleasure and can make the difference in a presentation or speech. Writers tend to be great communicators.
- Blogging. It takes a certain amount of courage to compose your thoughts and share them with the world. You need to be able to not take criticism personally.
- Journaling. Being able to summarise the contents of your brain after a stressful day is a great way of de-stressing. Reflective people are often highly perceptive and open to feedback. They are also keen to understand the needs of others.
- Poetry. Brevity is often lacking in the corporate world. If you can use five words where others might use twenty, your messages will be that bit more memorable. Poets know what it means to keep communication simple.
Any hobby that involves technology will make a technophobe hiring manager’s eyes light up. So many people still feel so unsure about the latest advances that having a technology geek around the office is always welcome. For many professions, hobbies that involve technology are par for the course. What coding language have you learned recently?
- Stock trading. While day trading isn’t strictly a technology hobby, the appreciation of algorithms and how they impact trading can be reading transferred to an analytical environment at work. There is also much to be said for a willingness to take risks.
- Coding. If there is any language to learn to set you up for the next few decades, a programming language would not be a bad choice. Forget about the ability to order lunch on holiday in Spain, coding ability will be a future superpower.
- Artificial intelligence. Looking to machines to lighten the load for thinking and working is on the strategy board of most employers. If you dabble in artificial intelligence as a hobby, you will have an advantage over many other applicants.
Which interests and hobbies should you steer clear of?
- Anything illegal or dangerous — judgement should not be questioned.
- Anything related to religion — don’t risk polarising opinions.
- Vague interests that require a detailed explanation.
- Avoid a long list. Include a couple with additional depth of detail.
- Don’t exaggerate proficiency. You never know the interests of the interviewer.
Over the coming years, listing interests on a CV will increasingly become the norm. Showcasing personality as well as experience will be valued by employers — the correlation between getting to know a candidate and successful retention will become ever clearer.
- Including hobbies or interests in your CV can lead to all sorts of fascinating interview conversations. Share them if they are interesting and relevant.
- Don’t let this section dominate. Maximum two lines. List your hobbies if necessary.
- Be selective in the hobbies or interests that you choose to highlight here.
- Times are changing — bring your whole self to the interview by adding this extra dimension.