The Best Hobbies and Interests to Supercharge Your Job Application
Oct 4, 2018
Just imagine it. You’re a recruiter flicking through hundreds of job applications and CVs. You’ve seen the same qualifications and work experiences dozens of times and you’re begging for something a little different.
Cue the perfect set of hobbies and interests.
Here’s the thing:
While attractive hobbies on resumes may not win you the job, when used correctly, they’re a great tool for standing out from the pack. Not only can they show your employer extra job skills, they can flesh you out as a person (and not just as a candidate).
So here are some of the best hobbies and interests for job applications and some useful tips on how to make them work for you and help get you that dream job.
Present the Best of You
I’ll let you in on a little secret. You don’t have to tell them everything.
Sure you may enjoy carp fishing every other Sunday or teaching yourself Elvish but, unless it’s useful, your recruiters don’t have to know about it. A lot of candidates feel the need to put down anything and everything but this isn’t the case.
The best hobbies and interests for a CV or job application will complement your existing skills and qualifications.
If your CV draws the picture, hobbies and interests add a splash of colour.
The Best Hobbies and Interests Examples
Now you know you need to be selective when choosing which hobbies to publicise on your applications.
So you might be thinking:
Which hobbies and interests actually qualify as useful?
Well, think of each one as a way of subtly working in extra useful job skills. You can manipulate pretty much any hobby to show yourself off but here are a few of the best. Try working some of these into your next job application.
A CV classic, team sports demonstrate commitment, the ability to work with others, and excellent work ethic. You can even include specific awards or achievements.
If you are more of a singular sportsperson, focus on outcomes. Perhaps you ran a distance race or a marathon and raised some money for charity: let them know about it! Speaking of marathons, endurance sports are a great way to show you have drive and determination.
Voyaging to new countries shows an open mind and a desire to learn. But as with any job application, it’s important to be specific. Try to link your excursions to specific goals- things like volunteering or learning new cultures. Side note: the annual trip to Marbella may not cut it this time.
Whether you play piano, sing opera or knit scarves, creative hobbies demonstrate an innovative mindset that could help find useful solutions to workplace problems. For example, did you know that Richard Branson is a keen hot air ballooner? Well you do now.
From Cantonese to Catalan, languages are a great way to show intelligence and a determination to learn. Plus, companies are always on the lookout for employees who can work in more than one language. But if your language skills extend little further than “dos cervezas por favor”, leave them off. ‘Basic’ level ability is not going to sell you any better.
Playing an Instrument
CV expert Alyssa Gelbard says, ‘Aside from music-related careers, showing that you play classical guitar or violin can increase your attractiveness to potential employers when seeking roles that require laser focus, dedication, and discipline.’ So tune up.
Do Something Different
Want to stand out even more or struggling to fit your personal interests into the aforementioned categories?
Well, it gets better:
Nearly every hobby or interest can be used to boost your application. Here are some alternative ones to consider.
Not one that immediately springs to mind but yoga can show that you are calm and composed under pressure. How’s your downward facing dog?
Even more niche, archery can tell your employer that you are focussed and precise. Maybe don’t bring your arrows to the interview though.
Green fingered applicants tend to be creative, hardworking and can even boast strong mental health.
Anything quirky can help you stand out. I always put the fact I’m a ‘long-suffering QPR fan’ on my CV. It starts conversations and can even elicit sympathy.
It’s best to honest though. You never know what you may have to talk about at interview.
Something to bear in mind. While all hobbies and interests carry weight, there are some that it’s best to leave out entirely.
Avoid ones that may paint you as erratic and overly risk taking, like extreme sports (unless these are your raison d’etre and you want an employer to be aware this is what you live for!).
Equally, it is not good form to mention activities which are more passive. Binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on Instagram are not going to paint you in a positive light.
If you’re worried, here are some of the weirder ones to watch out for.
Where to Mention Your Hobbies and Interests
Now that we’ve got some good ideas for hobbies and interests, and some we should maybe steer clear of, we need to know where to put them.
Well, here’s the perfect start: the end of a CV.
Consider including a few bullet points at the bottom to highlight your extra-curricular endeavours. It really shouldn’t take up much room, however, and if you are short on space you shouldn’t sacrifice professional achievements to fit this in.
Alternatively, your interests may feel more at home in a personal statement (if you have to provide one) or a cover letter. Just make sure you relate them back to the job requirements.
If you are filling in a job application form without a specific hobbies and interests section, try weaving them into other answers. However, only do this if it feels appropriate. Clunky inclusions can feel a little shoe-horned in. If it doesn’t sound useful then it probably isn’t.
One Last Thing
All in all, it pays to think smart. Take a look at your hobbies and interests and assess which ones are applicable to the job you’re applying for.
Blogging is a perfect hobby for a job in digital marketing but perhaps not so useful for teaching or confidential work.
You can even tweak your existing hobbies and interests to suit your application.
If you’re applying to a job in the finance sector – ‘Reading’ can turn into ‘Reading commentary on financial models and practices.’ Or if you’re applying for a job in media, turn ‘Late night Netflix’ into ‘Film festivals and television seminars.’
With a little rejigging, your hobbies and interests can make you appear engaged, intelligent and a great match for the job.
And finally, if you’re concerned about finding the right hobbies and interests, remember you don’t need to include them at all. As I mentioned at the start, they won’t make or break your application. So if you’re short on space or tight for time, then don’t worry.
But with so many applications to sift through, your hobbies and interests could provide a welcome break for your recruiter. For more advice on perfecting your job application, visit our advice section.
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