OUTLINE: If you are a college student you have probably heard all kinds of different theories about what hobbies and activities should you include (or not) on your CV. Is including hobbies on a CV really a good idea? I know so because I have also found myself in that situation where friends and colleagues showed me the amazingly crafted CV they had been working on and all of them seemed to have different ideas about what activities to include or not. I have found two kinds of people: those who kept it simple and straight to the point, failing to mention hobbies and other activities and those who included all kinds of details from their lives ever since they were ten years old doing bead bracelets and selling them to their parents for ten cents each. The point where neither of them ever seemed to agree was: when it comes to leisure activities, what is the importance of music on CVs? And what about sports?
Related: other relevant experiences to include on your CV:
WHEN IS IT USEFUL TO INTRODUCE MUSIC AND SPORTS ACTIVITIES ON CVs
I must say that although I am hardly an expert when it comes to CV optimization, I have always been curious about trying to understand what is useful or not to include so I decided to do some research about the topic. When it comes to writing your resume, you are not obliged to include any kind of hobbies and interests. The matter of fact is that including that kind of information on your CV is mostly relevant when you are fresh out of college and still do not have a lot of work experience that can impress your recruiter or show him or her what your strengths and interests are. Let’s face it – sending companies a third of a page CV is depressing and it does not reflect all the skills and knowledge that you have developed after three or five years of academic life. In that sense, including hobbies and other activities on it may be particularly useful to show more about yourself to your recruiter and may also be a great way to mention some particular skills and interests that you possess but still haven’t had the time to apply in any job. You should include these activities whenever you feel like they say something about yourself that you want your recruiter to know and it becomes even more useful if the job you are applying for is somehow linked with hobbies and activities of yours. The bottom line is: if you do not have an impressing work experience, do not send a practically blank page. Attract the interest of your recruiter by letting your personality and skills shine through your hobbies.
WHAT DOES PLAYING SPORTS OR A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT SAY ABOUT YOU
You might be tempted to feel that the sports you play are not very interesting to mention when it comes to show off your skills and strengths, but the fact is that you may gain significant advantages by mentioning that you practice sports regularly. If nothing else, the sports you play may evidence transferable skills that can be extremely useful for the job you are applying for. First of all, it might show you have teamwork abilities. If you are in a sports team you have probably developed significant skills when it comes to work with others, get along with them and coordinate group activities. These are skills that you will definitely need when you are performing your job and therefore the recruiter will highly value them.
Secondly, playing a sport shows that you are committed. To pursue a sports activity requires a lot of discipline and willingness to work hard, which are skills you most definitely will need if you want to succeed in your career. Aligned with being committed, practicing a sport shows that you are reliable, as to be able to pursue a sport you need to attend training sessions and games, which shows that you can be trusted to be on work on time and follow through with your commitments. Beyond being committed and reliable, playing a sport shows that you are motivated, as practicing a sport may require you a lot of time and effort. If you are in a sports team and made it through your academic path with a good final average grade that also shows that you are organized, as you have been able to balance your schedule to maintain good grades and an activity that takes a lot of hours of your week. In case you occupy any kind of higher level inside the team, like being a team captain, that also shows you have developed leadership skills which are highly valued by your recruiter. Being a sports player also evidences that you have learned how not to be a sour loser and therefore you might be easier to work with and more likely to accept feedback both positive and negative.
The fact that you play a musical instrument may also reveal some transferable skills that are relevant for your recruiter. The fact that you play an instrument may also reveal discipline and teamwork if you play inside an orchestra or a musical group. But being involved in music may reveal a lot more about you. Being a musician means that you are creative which may be extremely relevant in your work life in several areas (like marketing, product development, strategy and so on) as it may also reveal that you can have a more out-of-the-box approach in finding ways to think about problems and solve them. Remember that innovation is the wheel that drives many companies out there and creativity is a must-have skill in most organizations. Additionally, being a musician may also show that you have high emotional and analytical intelligence once you are required to play songs written by others and need to try to understand the right way to interpret them.
Related: Brain-Enhancing Music: Does It Work?
These are, of course, just some general examples of what your activities say about you. Depending on the specifics of the sports you play, for instance, you can still reveal more relevant skills.
For example, if you play sports like football, basketball, paintball, soccer and so on, that may show you are good at coordinating your efforts with others and that you like to work towards a common goal in a team player spirit. Other solitary sports like running, cycling, hiking, and so on may show your competitive strife and high determination. Additionally, practicing martial arts reveals that you are patient while sports like golfing or even body building show how much you strive for perfection. If you practice some kind of yoga that may show that you have stress management skills and are likely to be more capable to handle pressure and work on a tight schedule. In case you are an adrenalin junkie playing sports like bungee jumping, base jumping, parachuting, etc. that shows you are a risk taker which may evidence your entrepreneurial capabilities.
Playing musical instruments and composing music may also reveal soft skills like sensitivity, delicacy, attention to detail and others.
Overall, both being a musician or a sports player may say a lot about you. These activities show your recruiter that you have high self-discipline and that you are a resilient person. These are the kind of activities that tell your future employer what kind of employee you are going to be and what kind of strengths you have.
SO, SHOULD I JUST INCLUDE ALL KINDS OF ACTIVITIES ON MY CV AND HOPE FOR THE BEST?
There are several advices that you should generally follow when deciding to include hobbies and activities on your resume. First of all, always tell the truth! You should only include activities that you actually DO – hobbies that you still actively pursue are the ones that you definitely want to mention. Secondly, do not mention too many hobbies. If you play several different sports you may mention one or two and leave out other sports that show your recruiter the same kinds of transferable skills. Similarly, if you play several different instruments you may just mention the most difficult ones or the ones you like the most. Always remember that you will probably have an interview where you can deepen the information you convey on your CV and that allows you to really highlight the skills you have acquired.
You should also never forget that the people reading your CV are humans, so you cannot expect them to feel totally objective about the sports or instruments you play. For example, if you hunt or like to fish that may not sound appealing to an animal lover recruiter as it is also the case if you play a kind of instrument that the recruiter finds particularly annoying. Although you cannot do much to avoid these biases you should be aware of them when mentioning some hobbies that may eventually be controversial.
Lastly, try to abstain from writing about weird/extremely unusual hobbies. Yes, all companies say that they want fresh thinkers that are different and unique but sometimes mentioning activities that are extremely farfetched might be an unnecessary drawback that prevents you from even getting a fair chance at getting that job.
All in all, if you like to practice some sports or play a musical instrument do include that information and try to do so specifying which kind of skills those activities allowed you to develop.
If you are looking to improve your CV and to know some more DO’s and DONT’S you may also be interested in our article about 10 things you need to remove from your CV.
INTERVIEWER Margarida Morais