Should you include sports on your CV? Here’s what the experts have to say…
Ever wondered whether anyone actually reads the ‘about me’ section of your CV? Do potential employers really care that your hobbies are watching Italian films and captaining your local cricket team?
In a word – yes. Although you may find conflicting advice online, with some recruitment advisors suggesting you drop the ‘about me’ part of your CV altogether, recent research by GolfSupport.com shows that leading recruitment experts say that hobbies, and sports in particular, can play an important role in helping you stand out from the crowd.
‘What we expect from a person’s CV is that it’s a true reflection of their personality,’ says Meeta Sahni, MD of The Maine Group. ‘If sport makes up part of who they are, we need to know about it.’
‘CVs can be so bland and full of clichés. In my experience, recruiters really do look at that last section for flavour and colour,’ agrees executive coach and career development specialist Zena Everett. ‘Sports can be particularly useful as they really enhance a person’s “brand” and help them stand out as a well-rounded individual.’
So which, if any, are the best sports to mention? ‘Elite sports are often very popular with managers, particularly if you’re a champion or, even better, an Olympian,’ says James Callander, managing director at consulting recruitment agency Freshminds. ‘Employers get very excited by excellence!’
But don’t worry if, talent-wise, you’re more Sunday football league than medal-winning athlete! ‘People have the same energy in their personal and professional lives. Playing for a team demonstrates to an employer that you’re a team player far better than just writing “I’m a team player” on your CV,’ explains Zena Everett. ‘Of course, it’s even better if you’re the captain!’
‘Sheer dedication to a sport shows focus and self-discipline, which translates well to the workplace,’ agrees James Callander. ‘Plus, competitive people usually want to improve on their personal best and be stronger and better. Being competitive is particularly sought-after in sales, where your competitors really are out to get you.’
It’s always important to research the company you’re applying to, and to tailor your CV accordingly. ‘If that company runs golf away days, for example, including golf on your CV demonstrates that you fit into their culture,’ says Zena. ‘If it comes to a choice between you and another candidate, this could be enough to give you the edge.’
The experts all agree that your choice of sport can be self-selecting. ‘If your hobby is something high risk like off-piste skiing, and you’re applying for jobs with a corporate law firm, they’re likely to be frightened by that,’ says Meeta Sahni. ‘What you need to ask yourself is: are you actually the right fit for that organisation or would you be happier doing something else?’
So it’s a resounding ‘yes’ for sports on CVs – so long as you actually do the sport, of course. Don’t be tempted to make one up.
One final question, though: what if you impress your potential employer so much with your sporty CV that you get through to the interview stage – only to discover that he or she supports Manchester United and you’re a rival City fan? Awkward! Is this likely to ruin your chances of getting the job?
‘Don’t fret,’ says Zena Everett. ‘At least it’s something to talk about in the interview – and that manager won’t forget you in a hurry!’