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Looking for inspiration? After filling out two pages demonstrating serious work achievements and academic qualifications, it can require a change of gear to address the ‘personal interests’ section.
Which approach are you…
Little Miss Average
I like reading, going to the cinema and socialising with friends
Pros: Congratulations, you are normal.
Cons: And forgettable…
Suggestions: Add some specifics to personalise this statement – do you have a passion for art-house cinema? Do you collect graphic novels? If you are going for a creative role, demonstrate your creative interests here. And remember, if you say you love ‘socialising’ an employer might read that as ‘partying’…
Secretary of the college choir. Through approaching local businesses I was able to secure sponsorship for our upcoming tour.
Pros: You come across as positive and proactive. By approaching this in the same way as the rest of your CV, including a personal achievement or skill, this section fits well with the overall professional impression your CV gives.
Cons: Do you ever… relax?
Suggestions: This example could be balanced with a statement of something done purely for pleasure, perhaps you could describe the music you enjoy singing?
I like to browse eBay for additions to my extensive novelty snowglobe collection
Pros: Specific and unusual, you will certainly be remembered…
Cons: Maybe you think of yourself as ‘eccentric’ but not everyone will appreciate your quirky charm, and you need to fit in.
Suggestions: It is better to play it safe as you only have space for a couple of points, and an odd statement will be seen out of context. The employer doesn’t know if this is a joke or not, and either way it doesn’t look good. Are you taking this application seriously? Or are you genuinely obsessed with snowglobes?? Specific detail is good, as long as you don’t go too far!
I love running and recently completed the London marathon. In my spare time you will find me lifting weights in the gym.
Pros: You sound healthy and energetic. You are unlikely to be hungover on a Monday or pulling ‘sickies’ over a sniffle. The marathon running shows you can be determined and pursue challenging goals.
Cons: In this example one sporting statement is followed by another, and it could start to look extreme to a non-exerciser.
Suggestions: Sport is generally a safe interest to include, just make sure there is balance so you still look well-rounded.
I volunteer on my local playscheme, which gives me experience at working with mentally and physically disabled children.
Pros: Volunteering can give great work experience. Again, it shows you to be proactive. Personality-wise, it suggests you care about others, enjoy helping people, and feel a desire to ‘give back’ – all positive traits.
Cons: Again this is probably quite a safe interest, just be careful which charity or cause you are supporting. If your volunteering involves a political statement or reveals your religious beliefs, you could risk discrimination. You should also note that many recruiters prefer not to see photos of candidates or look people up on Facebook, as it can open them up to accusations of discrimination. If your beliefs are central to your life and you feel it is important to share this, the personal interests section is probably the best place to mention them, just be aware of the impact this can have.
Suggestions: Go for it, volunteering is a very positive activity to include! Just be aware of how your ’cause’ might come across.
This is an option. You don’t have to include a ‘personal interests’ section.
Pros: Well they can’t find anything wrong with that.
Cons: You eliminate the risks, but you also lose the opportunity to connect on a personal level with your recruiter. It leaves the employer guessing – are you an intensely private person? Or do you have nothing to say?
Suggestions: I think this one comes down to personal preference. Just take a moment to consider why you want to leave this blank as the absence will be noted and still sends a message.
There is no right or wrong way to tackle this section. It is probably quite obvious that you want to mix approaches to demonstrate different qualities. Keep it down to just a few bulletpoints, highlight some specific details, your commitment or an achievement, as well as demonstrate enthusiasm.
The personal interests section should definitely not be treated carelessly - it might be the only place the employer sees the ‘real’ you. With only a little space to use, small statements can have a big impact.
For more advice on writing a CV, see our popular guide How to write a CV - now available to download as a PDF!
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