Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
Make a splash with your interests 19/09/2012
So you’ve come to the ‘Interests’ section of your CV and realise you don’t have a life? Yes you do. But just be careful about how much of that life you share with your future employer…
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- Well-rounded individuals
- Team players
- Advice from an HR advisor
- Advice from recruiter for global investment bank
- Advice from HR consultant
- Advice from Alistair Leathwood, FreshMinds
Employers are looking for well-rounded individuals. We know it’s a cliché but it’s true. Everyone wants to work with people like them, colleagues who have a life outside of their work. But which interests go down well and which have more of the lead balloon effect?
Recruiters get bored easily so keep away from the traditional "socialising", “meeting new people” or “going to the cinema” options. Be creative! And we’d recommend you steer clear of anything too personal.
At FreshMinds, we’ve seen “investigating different sex positions” among the piles of CVs we review and it didn’t fill us with joy.
You’ll be a particularly impressive candidate if you highlight interests or hobbies that have some relevance to the job you’re applying for. Whether playing share games or designing publicity for club-nights, you’ll demonstrate a passion that’s taken you the extra mile.
Get a variety of team activities on your CV too – employers are increasingly keen on team players who work successfully with others. A happy team is, after all, a productive team.
We’ve chatted with our colleagues in your favourite top companies to get their thoughts – read on to get the truth from the horse’s mouth.
Advice from an HR advisor
The best thing you can do in the ‘Interests and Hobbies’ section of your CV is demonstrate an inquisitive mind, for example by keeping abreast of current affairs.
If you mention being in a university society or sports team, I want to know if you excelled – becoming the president or captain. You should stay well clear of anything that alienates you from your reader. I have had applicants tell me they are ‘pulsating with a burning desire’ for the job, enthuse about maintaining a small house garden and declare an interest in warfare and war tactics.
This section is a chance to show off, but it is also an opportunity to get your potential interviewer to like you.
Advice from recruiter for global investment bank
What I’m looking for is an interest in finance that goes beyond your degree. Have you participated in an investment club or traded your own portfolio of stocks? We’re not looking for brains on legs, we want people with personality who would be fun to work with (which is all the more important if you’re working long investment banking hours). Show me that you’ve proactively taken on positions of leadership and I’ll believe you’re a future leader of our firm. However if I see any spelling mistakes, you’ve spoilt your chances. I’m looking for quality, not a slap-dash job.
Please don’t demonstrate such an interest in consulting under your hobbies section that I worry you’re applying for the wrong job, or bore me with too many interests – a recent internship application came to a total of 12 pages!
Advice from HR consultant
I always keep an eye out for something a little bit out of the ordinary. I think people are sometimes scared to put things down on their CV that are different, but the whole point is to try to stand out from the crowd and attract our attention.
The thing that impresses me most is when people have tailored their CV to your company and specifically to the role. You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this. I have seen some great candidates who have designed the CVs using our font, our colours and even on a couple of occasions our logo. That’s definitely one way to wow me.
Advice from Alistair Leathwood, FreshMinds
Quirky hobbies and offbeat interests often provide a talking point and many of our clients tell us that very often it’s the “interests and hobbies” section of a CV which helps them tell graduates apart. Very often for graduates, it can be the only distinguishing feature.
Some of the ones we’ve seen which have turned into successful talking points have included: being in a circus (our very own managing director), building guitars (our IT manager) and examples of the more memorable ones from our candidates include cycling the mountain of the Tour de France, making “This is Your Life” scrap books for friends and family and singing in the choir of a top five Top of the Pops hit. In each case, the hobbies have been quirky enough to catch our attention but haven’t been so off the wall that we’ve quickly classified the candidate as ‘slightly eccentric’!
Demelza Bowyer, FreshMinds Talent
Demelza Bowyer works at FreshMinds Talent