Interests & Achievements – not a waste of space on the CV

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So you’re nearly at the end of writing your CV, covering your personal statement, previous positions and education. But have you included your interests and achievements? This often neglected element can be the section that puts you ahead of the competition, showing employers a little more about you.

This is almost the hardest part of your CV to write. Your education and work history are already set out for you, but now you have to be creative and use your imagination to paint a picture of the real you. Your CV is likely to be read by people who will have no other insight into your personality, other than what is on the piece of paper in front of them. They will be reading hundreds of CVs for a particular role, and so you need to make sure you stand out from the rest by giving them something to remember you by, to prove that you are an interesting person and character, and somebody they want to meet.

Try and think of things that you’ve done that will suggest to an employer that you’re able to fit into different environments and get on with other people. Perhaps you’ve completed your Duke of Edinburgh Award or taken part in an expedition on your gap year, which will convey that you’re up for a challenge and determined. If you’ve done a flower arranging course, enjoy photography, or do salsa classes every weekend, they’ll want to see that too. Jobs may require someone with certain traits, so match these to your achievements and make it attractive. For example, perhaps they want a PA who will use their initiative, be proactive and develop within the role.

It’s also important to consider how you write your interests and achievements. Writing ‘Head of debating society’ is not as attention-grabbing as ‘Whilst running the university debating society, I organised debates with other university teams and arranged social events for the society members’. If you play a musical instrument don’t just say ‘I play the piano’; make it sound more exciting by saying ‘keen jazz pianist’. But don’t lie! If you say you love going to the theatre and you get to the interview, you’ll be stumped if they ask you what the last play you saw was and what you thought about it.

Of course, there will be some employers who don’t value extra-curricular activities as much as others, and who will be focusing predominantly on your experience. If a recruitment agency is putting you forward for a role, then utilise their expertise and knowledge of the company by asking them for advice – they will know what kind of person the company are looking for.

Read more about the importance of creating a great CV here, here, here and here.

Author David Morel Tiger Recruitment Team

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