People are always wondering whether to list hobbies and interests on their CV.  In an article in yesterday’s DomPost, Jim Bright, a very highly regarded international career expert, suggests that hobbies are better left off the CV.  I tend to disagree.  Many employers, myself included, like to get an overall picture of the applicant.  Interests and hobbies can make the CV more ‘personal’ and is an excellent icebreaker for when you first meet the applicant at the interview. 

Some people may feel that this just gives the recruiter something else to ‘judge them by’ .  But I would argue that if your interests and hobbies put off a potential employer do you really want to work with them?  The job is much more than getting the work done.  How often do we hear the phrase ‘cultural fit’?  People spend more time at work than in leisure – I certainly would prefer to work with a group of people who I feel I can share experiences which I enjoy. 

That doesn't mean its always ok to bring your hobbies to your workplace!

Also, your interests and hobbies could actually be relevant to your work.  As an example someone who is passionate about skiing may love to find a marketing  job at a ski resort.  Your passion for the sport would give you an advantage over someone who didn’t list it as a personal interest.   For sure, don’t bore the reader with a long list of interests, do choose a few that might intrigue the reader.  I say, go for it!  What do you think?

Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. thanks for featuring my work. In the dompost interview it makes clear that the advice about hobbies is based on 999 resumes on file in a major recruitment firm. When we looked at those that contained hobbies compared to those that did not, there was absolutely no difference in the shortlisting rate – the presence or absence of hobbies made no difference.

    I understand your arguments for including them and I even agree, but how do you explain the data based on a very large sample?

    keep up the good work with the blog!
    Cheers

    JIM

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  2. Hi Jim – thanks for your comments. I think that despite the very large sample I believe that the significant number of employers, particularly your smaller to medium-size firms, who do not engage with recruitment agencies are likely to be the ones that would prefer to see hobbies listed. Since your data shows no difference in the shortlisting rate for CVs that contained hobbies compared to those that did not, I would suggest that it would be best to include them.
    Cheers
    Liz

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  3. Hi Liz,

    I think this falls into the realm of speculation. Your arguments are easily testable in regards to smaller companies (incidentally smaller companies use recruiters too, at least in the firm we looked at). Currently there is no evidence to support the inclusion of hobbies for adult candidates, no matter how intuitive it may seem. What also needs pointing out is that we took all the hobbies that were listed on the resumes we looked at, and then had a group of people rate every single one for their desirability – ie does the hobby make you look like some lovely person, or does the hobby make you look like a weirdo. We then took the 3 most desirable hobbies and put them on a resume, and took the three least desirable and put them on a resume made up with identical information to the one with the desirable hobbies. The only difference between the resumes was the hobbies – nasty or nice. When recruiters rated these candidates, the ones with the very negative hobbies were shortlisted as often as the most desirable. This finding neutralises arguments based on desirable hobbies. It really seems to make no difference at all. When space is at a premium on a resume, it is probably better to use the space devoted to hobbies to include more achievements, quals, or work history that increases the fit between you and role.

    I know when I train career professionals they find this very hard to swallow, it does go against the grain, but there it is. I’d love you to collect the data to support your contentions, but at this stage the data is not there. The more data of this form we can get the better quality evidence-based advice we can give to candidates.

    I cover this in my book ” Resumes that get shortlisted” by Jim Bright and Joanne Earl, Allen and Unwin 3rd Edition.

    However for high school students we are with you and suggest including resumes (because there is less pressure on space given a student’s limited work experience). See our book Getting a brilliant job the student’s guide by Karen Bright and Jim Bright. Allen and Unwin.

    Hope this helps, and I hope it promotes an evidence-based approach to this important topic.

    I admire your efforts to bring advice to a wider audience.

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  4. marketing jobs are also in high demand these days because i think the recession is over **

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