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Since the first time I had to write an (academic) CV, I seem to be getting two conflicting opinions on the subject of including non-academic interests on an academic CV.

(Some examples of such interests would be sports, cooking, etc.)

The "sources" of my advice include professional people in and outside of academia, (not that many) PhD students, a lot of internet searches and observing the CVs of other academics/researchers.

  • One one hand, I heard that including a section about such interests is important, as it is supposed to demonstrate that you are a "diverse, complete person" and not a solitary scientist/workaholic. This is also one of the more common "don't forget" advice I found on not-academia-specific guides to writing a CV.

  • On the other hand, a lot of examples of CVs of senior scientist didn't include anything of the sort, which mostly makes sense to me: since I am writing a CV to apply for a position / grant in an academic concept, I should be judged based on my academia-related activities.

So, I would like to know what is actually the convention in academia? I can imagine the answer might depend on several factors such as:

  • culture of the country
  • culture of the field
  • seniority of the scientist (e.g. PhD student vs permanent Professor)

But, then, I am really not sure. Is it a matter of convention depending on some or all of the above, or, if not, what is the global convention for including non-academia related interests in an academic CV?

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What level of position are you applying for? Echoing what you have already pointed out; senior positions don't need to include much in the way of other interests, but for Masters/PhD/early post doc it is more important, as you are trying to demonstrate not only your excellence academically, but that you will bring something to the research group beyond that. –  Sam Apr 23 at 13:36
    
@Sam I purposefully left it out, as I wouldn't mind a more comprehensive answer. As for me, I'm a PhD student half through my PhD. The next thing where I'll be using my CV is probably a short mobility program (visit to a lab of a few months, so I'll be asking the lab if they want me and then I'll be applying for funding), but in general, I'm updating my current CV version (which I try to do every so often), so I'm wondering :) –  penelope Apr 23 at 13:39
    
gotcha, I think that the answer to this question may centre on the point where non-academic interests cease to be a useful component of a CV. I suspect their only place in an early position academic CV is for further demonstration of traits you haven't had much chance to show within an academic context (classically teamwork/leadership/people skills/organisation/lateral thinking yadda yadda). My institution's CV guide suggests that other interests are added to a Masters/PhD/postdoc level academic CV, but as <1/4 page on a no longer than 2 page CV, and at the end. –  Sam Apr 23 at 13:47
    
Do you include spoken languages in non-academic interest? I mean languages other than English and which are not spoken in the country where you are applying? –  Ri49 Apr 23 at 14:54
    
@Ri49 No, I'm talking about what could maybe be called "hobbies". –  penelope Apr 23 at 15:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 22 down vote accepted

The convention in an academic CV is not to include information on non-academic hobbies or interests that are not relevant to your professional skills and qualifications.

You will find this view confirmed on sites that give specific advice on the academic CV. (e.g.: this one).

That's not to say there's never a good reason to include this information; there may be, in some cases. (For example, you might mention your time abroad doing unrelated humanitarian work to explain a chronological gap.) But in academic CVs it's not standard.

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Even outside of academia, you would only list hobbies or interests if (1) you're applying for your first "real" job, or (2) they're relevant in some way to the position you're applying for. The purpose of including them in case (1) is primarily to give the interviewer something to ask you about as a "warm-up" question, in case you're nervous. –  mhwombat Apr 23 at 14:36
    
Thank you for your answer. I actually know about a similar special case (a friend had to put a year of obligatory military service to explain a gap year he was usually asked about). But, since I was told by a senior PhD student in my country to add that section when I was close to finishing my Masters (that is, first time I needed a serious CV), I was still compelled to ask. –  penelope Apr 23 at 19:20

When considering applicants for an academic job, should employers be taking interests in things like sports or cooking into account? In all academic circles I am aware of, the answer is a clear no. If I were a candidate for an academic job and somehow found out that another candidate got additional consideration for these kind of interests, I would be quite upset, and if there were (this seems unlikely) some kind of written record of it, I might have a real grievance.

So the answer is that, about as certainly as any one academic can be about the entire world of academia, I believe that putting such things on an academic CV will not get you additional formal consideration. Some people do put them on their CVs anyway: I have looked at thousands of CVs over (not-even-that-)many years, and I would say that maybe 5% include information like this. I don't take it into account in my deliberations. I might happen to be personally interested, but I might also semi-consciously think "Boy do I not care that Mr. X enjoys cooking and running. Let me take another look as Ms. Y, who listed only impressive, relevant things on her CV." When there are several hundred applications, you do want to err in the direction of not annoying your readers, however mildly. Now you might well argue that your application could just as well find someone who semi-consciously admires you for cooking and running. That's your decision. But my feeling (which of course is very much based on me) is that you will in the aggregate lose rather than gain a small number of points with this practice....and in the current academic job market, losing a small number of points is liable to have the same effect as losing a large number of points!

Here are two followup remarks:

1) There is a place for you to put benign personal information: your webpage. Nowadays I think that every academic job candidate should have a webpage (I didn't until after I started a tenure track job, despite the fact that one of the key people who eventually hired me hinted several times to my postdoctoral supervisor that that would be a good idea. On the one hand: oh, well; do what I say, not what I do. On the other hand: that was almost ten years ago, and since then my webpage has become a major part of my professional profile. I really think that a young academic without a webpage in 2014 looks like a Luddite.)

2) You write "academic CV". I wonder whether this hints at your geography. In the US, the term CV is only used in academia (and also in the medical industry, according to wikipedia: these are overlapping circles). To my American ear, the term "academic CV" sounds almost redundant. But the same wikipedia article helpfully informed me:

In some countries, a CV is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview, when seeking employment.

You should know that in the US we call that a "resume", not a CV. I think this is a helpful distinction to keep in mind when trying to decide whether information about CVs is applicable: a "business resume" is very different from an "academic CV". Anyone who tells you that a CV should be 1-2 pages is talking about a resume instead: although you sometimes see "brief CVs" which are that length, an academic CV is rather supposed to be a comprehensive document detailing your academic record, so it grows roughly linearly with the length of your academic career.

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"it grows roughly linearly with the length of your academic career" At least - I would say as soon as you become a professor, your CV-able activities / year ratio also tends to increase (at least in CS), as you have more students and other collaborators to write papers with. –  xLeitix Apr 24 at 6:56

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