It is fair to say that the importance of an interests section generally diminishes as the length of your career increases. Where there is less quantifiable information on your career history, an employer may want to see more evidence of your activities outside of your work or education. So an interests section can certainly be useful in the early part of your career.
A good interests section that demonstrates an active role outside of work will indicate to an employer that this person may also play an active and positive role in work. In the third sector, where sharing the same values as an employer is especially important, a good interests section might just provide the difference in getting you called for interview.
Voluntary work can be very important for kick starting your career in the third sector. If you have held formal voluntary positions, then these should really be highlighted within their own ‘voluntary work’ section. However, if you have only carried out a limited amount of fundraising or help on particular projects then these might best be presented in an interests section.
If you do decide to include an interests section, then you must engage the reader with vivid descriptions. Too many people write bland, non-personalised descriptions of their activities. ‘Enjoy socialising with friends and family’ well really, who doesn’t? Or ‘likes reading and playing football’. Yawn. This kind of description is a complete turn off and will not engage the reader one iota.
To get the reader engaged you must liven up your interests section with description and personalisation. For instance, ‘cooking’ could be ‘makes a mean Goan style pork vindaloo’. ‘Enjoys running’ could be ‘ran three half marathons in 12 months and raised £5k for Cancer Research’. With just a little thought it is easy to transform your interests into something much more visual and readable.
Whilst it is not essential to have an Interests section in your CV, if you do have one at least make the most of it. It’s another chance to make a positive impression. Employers are looking for the right cultural fit. To recruit people with similar values. There can be a lot of subliminal processing going on when reading about interests, so you must make your interests interesting.
This article is written by Neville Rose, director of CV Writers who provide a CV writing service. You can get things started with a free CV review.