CVs are often subjective with opinion split on everything from length, content even font. One of the issues that reared its head recently is whether or not to include personal interests on the CV. Is anyone interested in what you do when you are not working? Does this make it easier for a recruiter to assess cultural fit? Is it easier to see how you might fit in to a team? People on both sides of the job search were very much divided.

What is the aim of the CV?

The purpose of the CV is to demonstrate to a potential employer how you might make a positive impact on their company. Are you going to be someone who generates revenue, cuts costs, turns around underperforming teams? All too often a candidate lists all of the responsibilities they hold without thinking about what that means to the business. What skills are you selling and who might buy them?

Interests or no Interest?

This certainly proved a contentious issue when asked to a number of Yorkshire based business leaders and job seekers. Direct employers seem to lean towards adding hobbies and interests to the CV as it helped them evaluate if the person might fit in to the team. If the interests section was omitted, then it was still a key question asked at interview stage.

The clear message that came through was that even your interests are challenged by the interviewer. If you say you like reading, ensure you can talk about the last book you read, the same goes with theatre, live music and foreign languages! I have heard of candidates being asked questions in the foreign language they claimed to be fluent in, when they get to interview stage. Obviously very difficult if you simply wanted to exaggerate your interests and cannot speak a word. In the same way if a hobby is genuine shared interest of both you and the interviewer then it can help you connect on an entirely different level.

Are your interests appropriate? If you have any interests that may be politically difficult then it would be better to exclude them. However if you do not have much real experience interests can be the difference between securing an interview or not securing an interview. This is not harking back to the days of the old boys club and wondering which county you played for, it’s about demonstrating a different side to you in your CV. Non Exec Director for a charity looking for a transition is to the 3rd sector? This type of interest has to be included as it can support the goal you are trying to achieve. However a single line is enough, do remember that space is of a premium and giving the potential employer just enough so they want to meet you is the key.

Still no interest?

The CV is ship shape, it consists of two powerful pages that pitches you with the right level of gravitas. It demonstrates clearly and concisely to any potential employers exactly what return they will get on their investment. What happens if the phone is still not ringing, the interviews are not happening and there is no interest in your interests or any other element of your CV? Think about how you are trying to find your next position.

Who are you interested in working for and why would they be interested in you? Think outside the box, don’t rely on the advertised market, job boards, papers and recruiters alone. The advertised market only makes up 20% of jobs out there. The other 80% is up to you to uncover by effective networking. Networking is about being interested in people and the message they have to give. Isn’t that interesting?