With the current jobs market being so competitive, many job applicants are finding it increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. With only a few moments to grab a recruiter’s attention, it’s crucial to ensure your CV is concise and relevant. So is the ‘interests’ section a ‘nice to have’ or a necessity?

Many candidates believe that a great way to save space on their CV is to remove their interests, but some recruiters often read this section first, even before looking at your current role. While your CV is great at outlining your professional experience, it does not illustrate who you are, your personality and your passions. This can be an important element when a recruiter is trying to place you in a role that suits you. Furthermore, having an interests section will allow a recruiter or potential employer to engage you in conversation during your interview, distracting you from an otherwise tense situation.

If crafted correctly, a great interests section can be an effective way to make a memorable first impression and position yourself apart from your competition. Keep the following tips and insights in mind:

1. Keep your interests relevant to the job
Think about this from the reader’s point of view. How
will your interests be perceived in relation to the job
and company you’re applying to? Try to include
activities that enforce your interest in the position.
For example, if you’re applying for a creative role, an
interest in interior design will be relevant.

2. No waffling
Don’t allow this to take up half a page. Be succinct,
and describe your interests in a few sentences or a
short list.

3. Honesty is the best policy
You won’t be doing yourself any favours by lying or
embellishing your interests or activities, since being
hired for a position has a lot to do with your
personality. If you’ve never been scuba diving, then
don’t list it as something you love doing. It’s not
worth the gamble of being found out.

4. The more specific, the better
Be prepared to expand on the information you include. If
you love world cinema, why not share some of your
favourite movies or sub-genres? This will give a future
employer a strong picture of you.

5. Switching careers? Interests will help
People often switch careers to satisfy the need to feel
passionate about their work. If you’re in this
situation, your interests may be more important than
your work history. If your interests directly relate to
the role you’re applying for, then be sure to spend
extra time writing this section.

6. Include a variety of interests
If you enjoy team sports or activities, outline why you
enjoy them. Employers are increasingly interested in
people who can work successfully with others. At the
same time, include something that proves you’re a
diverse person, or that you have personal interests that
you have excelled in.

7. Be unusual
Very often, it’s the interests section that helps
recruiters or potential employers tell candidates apart.
If you’re just starting your career, then it may be the
distinguishing feature that sets you apart from your
competition. For today’s recruiters, hiring is not just
about ticking every box on the job description, it’s
about finding people that fit the company.

Author's Bio: 

For more information on how to write the perfect CV please visit our career advice for HR professionals section.