Standing out from the crowd: leisure activities, volunteering and more


How to make your CV stand out from the crowd is an age-old challenge and there are a number of different ways in which it can be achieved. One area that is sometimes overlooked or even rejected is the ‘Interests’ section, where you can list any volunteering or hobbies you enjoy. Some people fear that including these may look slightly frivolous or irrelevant, but actually this can be an invaluable opportunity to sell yourself to a potential employer.

Opening up the conversation

Showing that you have hobbies and interests that you enjoy reveals to potential employers that you are a well-rounded person, and forms a short but important last section on your CV. They can provide a great topic of conversation at your interview. In fact, they may reveal far more about your personality than you realise. If you say you regularly play football or netball for example, that can be interpreted as your being a good team player, who likes being with a group. On the other hand, if you say you like going to the gym, that could imply that you are self-motivated, and goal orientated. An avid gamer is probably good with computers and may be quite introverted. A crossword enthusiast will be analytical, with good problem-solving skills.

Make it specific

Hobbies shouldn’t be written in a generic, nondescript way though.  If you enjoy reading, say what genre you prefer – sci-fi, mediaeval history, biographies etc. If it’s walking, describe the type of walking you do – for example, the Wainwright Way to differentiate from an evening stroll – and promote more interest.

A common denominator

Over the years, I’ve had some great conversations with clients who have told me about their interests and it’s amazing how often these coincidence with my own – a number of times people have been surprised when they’ve told me about their martial arts qualifications, and I’ve shared that I’m a practising Taekwondo black belt.  Similarly, talking about the type of travel you enjoy will engage the reader – or interviewer – particularly if it refers to a part of the world that they are familiar with or want to visit too.