What to put in the further interests section of a graduate CV

What to put in the further interests section of a graduate CV

A well-crafted 'further interests' section on your graduate CV can help you stand out from other applicants with similar qualifications, but beware of potential pitfalls.
It can be difficult to escape an employer's unconscious bias if you state 'lobbying for free tea from the taxpayer' as your main diversion.

The further interests section of your CV is an opportunity to showcase your strengths and make your application stand out, and can give employers a sense of your personality and what you would be like as a colleague. It's best to avoid reverting to bland, clichéd information such as ‘reading’, or ‘socialising with friends’, which could be true of almost anybody and doesn't convey your skills, willingness to take responsibility and personal development.

Pastimes that are unusual or adventurous may catch a recruiter's eye, but wackiness could be a turn-off. Don't invent things in the hope that you'll impress the employer, and be prepared to discuss your interests in more detail at interview.

Your interests and activities can reveal hidden depths and skills

Employers can learn a lot about a person from the activities they describe. Group-based work is always impressive because it shows initiative and leadership. Sports and other team activities also look good because they demonstrate energy and commitment.

You need to provide brief, selective details to justify your inclusion of a particular activity. For example, if you’re into performing arts then your role demonstrates responsibility to the rest of the cast, commitment to rehearsals, team interaction and possibly production assistance. Similarly, if you're a member of a reading group you could provide details about your contribution to organising meetings and supporting group discussions and decisions.

Make sure you mention any interests that have developed your capacity for leadership, or that are relevant to the job. Choose activities that you are genuinely interested in, as if you are invited to discuss them at interview, your enthusiasm will come across.

NEVER use the word ‘hobbies’ on your application, even if the employer does. It has childish connotations so a more professional approach would be to use words such as ‘activities’ or ‘interests’.

Keep your statements neutral

Be wary of citing anything too political or religious. Applications are very subjective and although equal rights are applied to all graduate recruitment schemes it can be difficult to escape an employer’s unconscious bias if you state ‘lobbying for free tea from the taxpayer’ as your main diversion.

Cue your added extras

You may think that the ‘other interests’ section is not of primary importance on an application form but it is another chance to sell your transferable skills and gives the employer an insight into your personality. Aim to show them that you’re a better fit for the job and the culture of the organisation than the other candidates with similar work experience and academic grades to you.