Monday, September 26, 2011
CV Advice: Should One Include Hobbies or Family Info?
I've reviewed what seems like a million CVs since last May, but occasionally one still has the power to surprise. I was struck by one this morning that had an especially extensive list of "hobbies." It made me curious to hear the thoughts of other profs as to whether one should or should not include such things on one's CV.
On my own CV, I've taken a conservative approach and haven't included hobbies or family information on the theory that some stuffy traditionalist out there might take offense or be dismissive. [I would probably only wear a dark suit to interviews for the same reason.] As a recruiter, however, I often enjoy getting some insight into a person through the hobbies they choose to include, and I find that the hobbies occasionally provide a conversation starter, though I prefer to start with more substantive questions at the faculty recruitment conference in D.C.
Regardless, I think one should probably omit hobbies if they are too mundane (e.g., travelling or reading--who in academia doesn't like to read or travel??) or too exotic (e.g., UFO hunting or making pipe cleaner animals). That doesn't mean, however, that I'd exclude a candidate for including them. Okay, maybe the pipe cleaner animals might make me think twice . . .
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My feeling is that if you list a hobby, you should be ready and able to provide an example or demonstration. For mundane hobbies this is easy ("what piece of fiction did I last read? _The Left Hand of Darkness_. Very interesting, I thought.") For pipe-cleaner animals, I suppose you can have on in your pocket, or perhaps better, produce it on-site. If you list ballet, singing opera, or baking pies it might get more complicated. Better to stay away from those.
Posted by: Matt | Sep 26, 2011 3:28:01 PM
I just stuck 'em on my webpage, on the theory that if a committee is interested enough in me to look at my webpage, maybe they'll be interested enough to want that extra dimension, but it needn't clutter up the cv.
Posted by: Foxey McFoxington | Sep 26, 2011 5:21:52 PM
The trick is to have your CV jump off the pile and get some attention. Maybe the pipe cleaner animal maker would jump off but not in a positive way.
Posted by: Mike Zimmer | Sep 27, 2011 12:09:06 AM
@Mike: It depends on whether the CV included as an enclosure an exemplar of the art form.
Posted by: Matthew Reid Krell | Sep 27, 2011 12:56:41 AM
Anon- does that mean you're pro or anti pipe-cleaner animal? I can't quite tell.
Posted by: Matt | Sep 27, 2011 7:29:19 AM
i dabble in satanism when i'm not in church on sundays. perhaps i should include that as well. additionally, i enjoy reading comic books about vampires.
Posted by: tony | Sep 27, 2011 7:47:01 AM
Matt, you just made me CQ2M! FWIW, my hobbies section includes "making up new abbreviations for texting," with examples like "chuckling quietly to myself." I'm heading out to the craft store this afternoon, but I may be too late for the inevitable run on pipe cleaners following this post.
Posted by: differentanon | Sep 27, 2011 9:43:43 AM
You pose an interesting question, as resumes traditionally included hobbies for years, and I think they still do. But I think there may have been some sea change (if I am using that expression properly) on the CV over the past 50 years: My father end listed family info on his CV, wife and kids and their(our) names. I always look for that info, but I have never seen that information on a recent CV. Although I find the pipe-cleaner animal discussion amusing, I hope some others weigh in seriously on this subject.
Posted by: redwise | Sep 29, 2011 1:46:10 PM