Should you list your interests on your CV or resumé?
You can probably tell from the title what we think about including your hobbies on your CV.
Here’s our take…
Your CV doesn’t have to include everything you’ve ever done in your life and, whether you’re into running ultramarathons or restoring samurai swords, your side-interests shouldn’t have any bearing on whether you’re the right candidate for interview. Sure, you might think of your passions as a core part of your identity. They might show that you’re well-rounded but when we’re looking for a project manager for an offshore wind installation, we want to know that you have the right experience and credentials for the work.
The thing to remember is that your CV is the first step of the hiring process and it has one job to do – to get you invited to an interview.
And the way to make sure you reach the interview stage is to make sure your CV matches the job specification.
In fact, there’s one thing that we prefer to see on a CV instead of a list of your hobbies.
Don’t bury the lede
Pick up a newspaper and you’ll see the intro to an article where a journalist summarises the crux of the whole article in an opening paragraph, called the lede. The lede contains all the essential information of the story upfront. Editors understand that you’re not going to read the entire newspaper, but that you will read deeper into an article that interests you.
Your CV needs a lede. Don’t bury the key information.
When we post a vacancy, the listing contains a detailed and precise list of the skills and experience we’re looking for. When we’re reading through the stack of applicants, we’re looking for the part in your CV that tells us that your skill set matches that list.
It’s worth highlighting your pertinent experience and consolidating it into a lede so it’s the first thing our consultants read.
Of the thousands of CVs we pore over every month, most candidates don’t do this so if you want to get ahead, it’s worth investing the time to stand out. If you have the skills and experience, and you list them upfront, it’s a solid signal that you’ve got exactly what we’re looking for. Which makes it difficult for us to ignore you.
For example, here are the Qualifications, Skills, and Experience we list for a Civil Engineer contractor.
- Background in civil engineering on contracting side
- 10 years’ experience working for a civil engineering contractor in a management position
- Experience in managing specialist sub-contractors undertaking Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD)
- Experience in management of earthworks
- Project experience managing heavy civil engineering coastal works under tidal constraints
- CITB SMSTS or equivalent
- CSCS – Manager Card or Academically Qualified Person Card
- Degree or HNC in Civil Engineering
- Proficient use of computers including iAuditor, Spreadsheets, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook
These are the non-negotiables and we want to know that you meet these requirements, so why not list them out on your CV?
Naturally, you need to make sure you are actually qualified. One or two gaps might be fine if they’re things you can address before starting a new role, like renewing a lapsed safety certification or taking out public liability insurance. But if you fall short on too many of the required skills, it’s likely that this job isn’t for you and you have some work to do before applying for this kind of role.
Is it ever acceptable to include my interests?
We’re looking for evidence in your CV that you have what we’re looking for in a candidate – the right skills, education, and experience. Companies look for evidence that you’ve demonstrated those aptitudes, ideally in your professional life. If you’re a high achiever and don’t fully match the career experience we’re looking for, then yes, it could make sense to cite evidence of your aptitude from outside of your career.
If you’ve rowed solo across the Atlantic, you clearly have perverse levels of grit and the tenacity to solve problems under pressure. These qualities can translate into the workplace but they can only supplement your core skill set, not replace it.
The bottom line is that you need specific domain expertise. You need experience that comes from working in a specific field.
Remember, your CV exists to get you the interview. Tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for and use it to state upfront that you have the skills we’re looking for.
Save your special interests and hobbies for the interview.