By Sabina Trench, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers
At the end of many CVs there’s a section reserved for personal information such as hobbies, interests and volunteering. We’ve all seen the cursory attention this section sometimes gets with the predictable list: reading, walking and socialising. But don’t let this opportunity to add value to your application pass you by writes SABINA TRENCH, CAREER COACH, SLI NUA CAREERS.
Up to this point in your CV, the document is mainly concerned with what you do, rather than who you are. People hire people, not just qualifications or experience, so the final section is a chance to set you and your CV apart.
But what to write?
Ideally, it is best if your hobbies and interests align in some way with the job application at hand. For example, if you are in event management and you organised a fundraiser for a local charity or club, I would definitely include that detail. In fact, it’s a great way for new graduates or career changers to show practical experience, even if they haven’t worked ‘officially’ in the sector.
What of sporting interests? Have you played for your local club or coached a team to success for example? These are good indicators of team work, leadership skills, dedication to healthy living and a willingness to commit to something. Solo sports such as triathlons or marathons show determination, inner resolve, personal initiative and goal setting and getting.
These benefits aren’t just reserved for the world of sport, however. What if you have been a member of a choir, or a committee member for the local community centre? These are all worthy pursuits and, depending on your success, can highlight achievements in your personal life that relate to your potential as a desirable employee. Of course if you like reading, that’s great, but be specific: maybe you particularly enjoy inspirational autobiographies from the business world, or tech magazines that keep you up to date on innovations in your sector.
Socialising is all well and good but what value does it add to your CV? Unless this is going to be a big part of the job, I say keep it to yourself. Big Saturday nights out suggest sluggish Mondays at work.
If you are a recent graduate and have not been involved in many activities or interests to date, I recommend that you start. But find something that you love and are passionate about. Your hobbies and interests don’t exist simply to beef up your CV; rather they provide an outlet for work stress and some personal space to enjoy doing something that you love.
I have clients that simply don,t have time to get involved in anything due to family and/or work commitments. In this case, I recommend that they leave this section out. However, it is important to take a look at the situation in terms of personal health and well being, and see how you might start to carve some time out for yourself.
While this section is completely optional, I still recommend that you include it if you can. It might allow the interview panel to go ‘off road’ and open up a conversation that tells them a little bit more about you.
Sabina Trench is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers, who have offices in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, Athlone, Sligo and Mayo, plus a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, personal statements and application forms.