“Successful technologies often begin as hobbies. Jacques Cousteau invented scuba diving because he enjoyed exploring caves. The Wright brothers invented flying as a relief from the monotony of their normal business of selling and repairing bicycles.” Freeman Dyson
In a previous article – “CV Writing” – I was mentioning that hobbies & interests are not a must in your CV, unless they convey an interesting message about yourself and thus give additional flavor and some personality features to your resume.
Your hobbies and interests may describe you as:
Team-player, sharing information, coordinating efforts with other members of a group, striving towards a common goal: team sports – e.g. football, basketball, handball, paintball, rafting
Intelligence, strategic thinking, problem-solving skills, patience, curiosity, stamina: chess, puzzles, strategy board games, Go, cryptography, Sudoku, bridge
Highly competitive, motivation, determination: running, cycling, climbing, hiking, jogging, motor sports, mountain biking
Cross-cultural skills, diversity, keenness for culture, international awareness: travelling, foreign language learning, geographic quiz taking
Technology-driven: programming, radio amateur, robotics
Communication skills, interpersonal aptitudes, urge to communicate: acting, blogging, socializing
Handiness, dexterity, craft, patience: do-it-yourself, crocheting, embroidery, knitting, lace making, Lego building, origami, pottery, quilting, sculpting, sewing, beadwork, building doll houses
Striving for perfection: calligraphy, archery, sand art, golfing, body building
Sensitivity, tenderness, delicacy, responsiveness: painting, poetry, playing musical instruments, gardening, animals/pets/dogs, composing music
Observation, attention to details, awareness of surroundings: photography, flower arranging, astronomy, beekeeping, bird watching, orienteering, scuba diving, microscopy, aquarium
Joy, liveliness, optimism: dancing, singing, backpacking
Research skills, preservation skills, curiosity: genealogy, history, scrapbooking, sketching, taxidermy, vehicle restoration, collection hobbies, butterfly watching, cloud watching
Patience: fishing, model building, bookbinding, martial arts
Need to break free, imagination: graffiti, kite flying, break dancing, street dancing, creative writing
Taking (calculated) risks, need for adrenalin: bungee jumping, base jumping, parachuting, fast cars, hunting, paragliding, storm chasing
General advice related to inserting hobbies & interests in your CV:
- if you decide to insert hobbies and interests in your CVs, then make sure that you keep to the truth and don’t lie about your hobbies, don’t try to impress!
- hobbies in the CV are more useful for fresh graduates and people lacking working experience (some of your hobbies might attract the interest of the recruiter, despite your lack of relevant working background)
- mentioning hobbies is useful when you apply for roles which are directly related to your hobbies
- avoid including too many hobbies in your CV
- ward off stereotypes
- be cautious with risky or time-consuming hobbies
- try to translate your hobbies to a job skill
- don’t forget that recruiters are human beings and therefore subjective (one recruiter might find your hobby very attractive, while another recruiter might dislike it)
- your hobbies can make you memorable for the recruiter
- abstain writing about weird or very unusual hobbies 🙂
Speaking about rare hobbies, I selected some of these out of the CVs received over the past years:
I was of course curious to understand what they mean and how to assess the applicants against the hobbies they stated in their resumes.
Cosplay is a Japanese blend of the words “costume” and “role-play”. Cosplay is a performance art in which participants (cosplayers) wear costumes, accessories, tattoos, body paint and other means of body modification to represent a specific character and idea.
My candidate was a science fiction fan and he was part of a Star Trek cosplaying group, a devoted “trekker” by his own definition (he even drew my attention that “trekker” is very different from the more used but rather depreciative “trekkie”).
Professionally he was not bad at all … a quite valuable IT Manager in a multinational company …
I subsequently read quite a bit about Cosplaying and I have to admit that I was even attracted by a group cosplaying their own original steampunk character.
Hard to say if this candidate should rather have retained himself from displaying his hobby in the CV… What I know for sure as an interviewer is the fact that his hobby drew my attention and that, of course, this has led me to further question him about his hobby. I detected pride, joy to be part of a group with similar interests, passion. I could unfortunately not link his hobby to a specific job-related skill. And, as mentioned somewhere above, he became a memorable person: I cannot remember all candidates I have interviewed over the past more than two decades, but I certainly remember a “Trekker”:).
There is a lot of work behind building an imaginary world. My candidate was telling me about years of work with his friends, each of them was responsible for a specific task: creating a history for the new world, geographic features (landscapes, meteorological factors, urbanism, etc.), maps, flora & fauna, inhabitants for the imaginary world – their outlook, philosophy, traditions, culture & civilization -, even government, politics and commerce.
I was truly impressed by the outcomes of this group … SF as it might sound, their world was functional and no detail had been ignored! About him: our interview slipped into a long discussion around his hobby. I have never seen a person with such ability to see all details without losing sight from the big picture! ‘Helicopter-view’, detail-oriented, analytic, connecting dots amazingly fast, interdisciplinary approach. I think that his hobby has helped him developing several of these skills.
Do you remember Narnia (C.S. Lewis created world), Avatar (James Cameron), Discworld (Terry Pratchett), Hyborian Age (Conan series), Arrakis (Frank Herbert’s Dune), etc.? Imaginary worlds that fascinated you and me …
Geocaching is a treasure hunting with the aid of a GPS. Participants use a GPS receiver, a mobile device or any other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (“geocaches”) anywhere in the world. The geocache is a waterproof container containing a logbook with a pencil. The finder signs the logbook with her/his code name and places the cache back where s/he found it.
My candidate was part of a European group of geocaching players. They were using plastic containers, also adding to the logbook different ‘trading’ items, usually country-specific (he told me that he placed in his container an English-Romanian bilingual book of Eminescu’s poetry, a postcard signed by football player Gica Hagi, a calendar page with Nadia Comaneci from 1976, a red-yellow-blue ice-cream flag-holder of Romania and a Romanian coin). The cache was hidden and its coordinates posted on the listing site. Each finder of the geocache writes its name in the logbook, along with an enumeration of the findings. The finder can keep the items in the cache (except for the logbook and the pen), provided that he replaces them with other items of similar or higher value. Then he hides the cache in the same spot for other players to find it. The one who dares vandalizing or steeling the items of the cache is a ‘muggle’ (muggles is a term borrowed from the Harry Potter series).
Geocaching is not completely harmless. Cachers have been approached by police and questioned when they were seen acting suspiciously. Cache sites have been registered and investigated as suspected bomb locations and locked down. Some geocaching locations have been lawfully interdicted: cemeteries, historic & archeological sites, some private properties. Even deaths have occurred while geocaching!
My candidate told me about the variety of geocaching websites. He himself is a registered terracaching.com active member.
What did I learn about him … technology-driven & addicted, flexible and adaptable, orientation abilities, an above average knowledge of European countries (geography, traditions, landmarks, etc.), highly competitive, genuine desire to compete & win, solutions-driven, results-oriented.
Crowd watching is the act of observing people and their interactions, usually without their knowledge. A puzzle to solve is the addictive part of people watching: guessing the story of each person by observing speech in action, relationship interactions, expressions, body language, clothing and activities.
While crowd watching is often a research must for book authors, performing actors, photographers and other artists as inspiration sources for their characters, for others, people watching is a fun and relaxing activity.
My candidate admitted her hobby for people watching. She told me that she goes every Saturday to the Bucharest North Railway Station, picks a platform for incoming or outgoing trains and studies the people on the platform: their gestures while waiting, their mimics at train arrival, the meeting with loved ones (she even imagines their conversation, trying to read lips), hopes, happiness, sadness, disappointment ….
I asked her if her hobby helps her personal or professional life. She told me that – on a personal level – she tends to live other people’s lives. Professionally, she seeks to translate a variety of positive feelings into her team.
Discussing more and more, I had the feeling that her hobby was more an addiction. Unable to express her own feelings, but living, nourishing herself from and cherishing the feelings of people in the crowds :(.
My candidate came across as an indeed ‘balanced’ man! He was calm, patient, a man of few words, a good listener, composed, somewhat too ‘Zen’. In his professional life he was aiming for a career in human resources. I struggled around his personality and eventually felt unable to further recommend him for the job. My client-company was an aggressively sales-driven consumer goods organization.
Balancing rocks takes time, endurance, setbacks, patience and calm. He would have been unhappy.
You may have other hobbies to speak about. You may have met people with unusual hobbies. I would very much like to hear about them and about the connection between hobbies and everyday life!
“One of my lifelong hobbies has been to collect ‘aptronyms’ – the newspaper columnist Franklin P. Adams’s term for people whose names were curiously appropriate to, or provided ironic comment on, their occupations.” Timothy Noah
What hobbies do you have? Willing to share? I am!
Featured photography: Personal Collection & Flavia Dobraca Photography