When it comes to that little space marked ‘hobbies and interests’ at the bottom of your CV or job application, the vast majority of us are tempted to absentmindedly list a few generic, unexciting pastimes, simply to fill up the white space on the page.
“What on earth have my hobbies and interests got to do with anything?” we might think to ourselves “and besides if I tell them that I collect Victorian parasols they will think I’m a total weirdo. I’d best just write ‘swimming, reading and listening to music’, they seem like ‘normal’ pastimes”.
What seems to elude people in a situation like this is that the request for information about your hobbies and interests is not as without motive as it is usually perceived to be.
In a document which is largely comprised of methodical precise and formal information, the hobbies and interests section of the CV allows you to inject a measure of individuality into your application, demonstrating that your calibre is wrought by more than just your professional experience.
How can hobbies increase your employability?
Most people create an imaginary division between their ‘professional self’ and ‘personal self’ when in truth the two are necessarily and unalterable intertwined. In fact many recruiters will look at how you occupy your free-time as an indication of your suitability for a role, beyond the information supplied within the four corners of your application.
Hobbies can give indications of essential employability skills including;
- Dedication “when no one is looking”
- Motivation to employ your time in a meaningful, productive and worthwhile manner
- Ability to create and maintain a good work / life balance
- Active pursuit of situations involving teamwork and the ability to function within these teams
Different hobbies develop different skills and an employer may come to assume certain things about you depending on which ones you indulge in. Nonetheless the most important thing is that you elaborate on your hobbies, rather than simply stating “I enjoy reading and swimming”, be sure to tell them what literature you most enjoy, who your favorite author is, whether you have ever swam competitively and what your favorite stroke is.
A few days ago, we attended an event and one of the speakers there said, that if it came to a toss-up between two candidates who were virtually identical, but one of them wrote a blog, she would employ the blog-writing one.
The more we think about it, the more we agree with her. Regular blogging demonstrates motivation, discipline, hard work, dedication, independent thought, passion and a desire to achieve something meaningful which is likely to be reflected within your professional life.
It shows a level of individuality and a willingness to go the extra mile in pursuit of something which doesn’t necessarily hold any palpable rewards.
Granted, playing team sports is not a hobby which is universally available, but for those who are physically able to take part, the reflection on their employability can be significant.
There are obvious abilities demonstrated through competitive sports, the ability to employ teamwork for example, but aside from that there are less obvious benefits built into the bargain.
- Motivation to physically challenge yourself
- A desire to apply your free time to something productive
- Ability to successfully juggle work / life commitments
This includes a broad spectrum of hobbies and persuits such as amature dramatics, cooking, painting, sculpture, creative writing and so forth.
Whilst you might not necessarily think that your chosen career falls with the designation of ‘creative’ the majority of roles on offer today, involve some degree of creativity.
Creative pastimes also suggest that you possess a mind and attitude which is dynamic, flexible and able to see the value in working hard towards an end result. These are all qualities relevant and applicable to broad range of working environments, and can make a welcome personal flavour to an otherwise typical application.
Unique / Unusual hobbies
When considering your own employability, it is important to remember that in the course of filling a job vacancy an employer may be faced with hundreds (if not thousands) of applications. A large proportion of these will prescribe to the “What has that got to do with my ability?” attitude which we described at the beginning of this post.
The result is applicants upon applicants who are ‘avid readers’ and who ‘enjoy swimming’.
This is where a unique or unusual hobby can grab the employer’s attention and add some memorability to your application. It can also suggest a degree of individuality, independence and an openness to new ideas.
The benefits of working on a voluntary basis are well discussed and described and yet this as an area of employability which many people neglect.
Part of the problem is that most people will have, at some point, given their time and efforts voluntarily in the service of others. There is the inclination to assume that a short stint of volunteering is enough to ‘coast’ your way through this section of an application form or CV.
Granted a month working in an orphanage in Thailand whilst on your gap year was an honorable occupation of your time, but what most employers will be impressed by are the less dramatic and more sustained periods of voluntary service. Those roles which show engagement with your local community, and a genuine desire to help others are the most appropriate for this purpose.
We hope you have found this quick analysis of which hobbies can help you employability useful! Don’t forget to check out some of our other tips and advice posts.