Blog post by Gemma, Employment Officer at Southampton City Council
When job searching and completing applications and interviews, most people think about their work experience and qualifications, but there are more parts to a person that interest employers. In this article, we’ll be looking at how your hobbies and interests can help you find a job.
Why are Hobbies and Interests important?
When an employer is recruiting someone, they are looking for someone who will be a good fit into their team. They are looking for signs that someone is interesting and has something to contribute. They are looking for personality traits like passion, commitment, dedication and a positive mindset. These are all things that aren’t easy to teach. You can train someone how to use software or about products, but those elusive traits and attributes are quite often what makes one person stand out from the crowd. Hobbies and interests are a way of showing these attributes in the application process. It’s easier to show your personality at an interview, but how do you do that on a CV or application form?
Hobbies and Interests section on your CV
Let’s look at an obvious way to incorporate your hobbies and interests into your CV. A lot of CVs have a section at the bottom where people list their hobbies and interests. This is a great way for you to show those attributes, and it also helps the employer remember you, and gives a conversation starter at interview.
Hobbies and interests show part of your personality that your work experience and qualifications may not. For example, if you enjoy producing music on your computer, or DJing, you are showing an aptitude for IT and electronic equipment, even if you haven’t got a qualification in this area. If you are a member of a local dance school, you are showing teamwork, commitment and passion, even if you have no work experience.
Things to include:
Think about what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Here are some ideas of things you might want to include, and how they may showcase some important skills and attributes for work:
- If you read, list some of your favourite authors. You’re showing you have literacy skills and imagination.
- If you play sports, even informally, you’re showing you are part of a team, are dedicated to practicing and building up a skill.
- Think about any clubs or societies you may belong to now, or in the past. This could be Sea Cadets, youth club or a book club.
- Do you have an interest in history, origami or beauty? Having a passion and a skill in something very niche still shows that you have found something you enjoy and worked hard to learn a skill.
- Are you in a band or dance crew? You’re showing your teamwork and skill in this area.
Things to avoid:
- Try to avoid just putting watching TV. If you do watch a lot of TV, phrase it like this: “I have a keen interest in crime dramas”, or “I keep up to date with news and current affairs”
- Instead of putting that you listen to music, list the genres you’re interested in. It shows you have appreciation for an artist’s work.
- Don’t just put socialising with friends. Everybody does this, so it’s not specific interest, unless you meet up for a specific reason such as meeting to go geocaching or riding bikes.
- Avoid putting playing computer games without any detail. Playing computer games shows a lot of skills and attributes such as teamwork if you play online games such as Call of Duty, and skill in scoring points in leader boards.
Other ways hobbies and interests can help you land a job
Have you considered looking to your own hobbies and interests to see if there’s a way to make them into paid work?
One way of doing this, is through making your hobby into a business. There is a lot of support out there for starting up your own business, from writing business plans, learning about marketing and tax, as well as financial support for start up costs. Speak to a member of our team about how we can support you with this further.
Could you start an Etsy store selling your knitting or could you set up a business teaching DJing skills to other young people?
Could you approach businesses speculatively (sending your CV and a letter without a job being advertised) to see if you could find a job related to your hobbies and interests.
- If you love horses, could you approach stables to ask if they need any staff?
- If you love to sew, could you approach haberdasheries or online stores to see if they are recruiting?
- If you love books, could you approach bookshops or consider a career in a library?
If you can show a passion in an area, related businesses are more likely to take you on. If you need support with speculative job searching, please get in touch with one of our advisors.
Networks are key to job searching. Take advantage of all the ways you can tap into networking opportunities related to your hobbies and interests.
- Could you join a Facebook group, message board for your hobby or interest, and get chatting to other members?
- Could you follow hashtags on social media, put up your own posts and generate a following?
- Could you set up a blog and comment and get involved in other blogs?
- Could you attend a conference or event and make contacts?
- Could you volunteer your time to help people, which in turn could lead to paid work?
Using your hobbies and interests as examples on application forms
Quite often on application forms you are asked to give examples of times when you have demonstrated a skill or attribute. Most people try to relate this to their work experience, but you can also use your hobbies or interests to give examples of times when you have demonstrated those skills. For example:
- Being part of a street dance crew shows how you listened to and followed instructions, worked as a team and worked collaboratively
- Performing as a singer at local events shows that you can stand up in front of a crowd, be organised and committed.
- Enjoying cooking or baking can show that you are precise, can follow instructions and can concentrate.
But what if I don’t have any hobbies or interests?
Well, now is the time to find some. There are lots of free courses online, groups to join, and people or businesses to follow. Think about what you enjoy, and actively get involved in learning more. You could:
- Read books, articles or journals on a subject that’s always fascinated you
- Follow YouTube tutorials
- Watch documentaries
- You could start running using the Couch to 5K app
- You could try an online yoga class
It doesn’t have to costs a lot of money to pursue a hobby or interest. Have a think about what sparks your interest and have a look what’s out there.
But that’s not all…
What I haven’t mentioned are the added benefits of pursing a hobby or interest. You get to meet new people, socialise, increase your confidence, feel part of a community and gain new skills.
So, have another look at your CV, have a look online at things that interest you, and start making your hobbies and interests work for you to help you find work.