What is the value of listing sports in your CV?

What is the value of listing sport in your CV?

Sports in your CV: Yes or no? Listing your personal interests is appreciated by some industries and companies, but ridiculed as unprofessional by others.
In the sports and outdoor industry, on the other hand, your personal interest in sports is not only welcomed, but usually even required. Sport is therefore one of the essential components of a CV in business. 

Because your sporting activity not only provides insights into your personality, but also shows whether you fit the employer and its product portfolio.

How is sport interpreted in the curriculum vitae?

A recruiter sees two things in your stated hobby:
A) An insight into your personality and B) Your understanding of a brand and its products.

What does which sport say about your personality?

All sports show that you are physically active. The importance of physical fitness or regular exercise on your physical and mental health is not only important for your well-being, but is also recognised by HR managers. Athletic people are often more stress-resistant and focused, as exercise reduces stress hormones and strengthens the nervous system. You show that you can balance your work, which can also have a long-term effect on job satisfaction.

Certain sports are also often associated with certain soft skills. Basically, if you do your hobby regularly, you show that you are reliable and have self-discipline, no matter what sport it is.

  • Team sports: Team athletes are used to working in a team, they are literally team players. As a footballer, basketball player, handball player etc. you show that you have social skills such as empathy, communication and cooperation.
  • Extreme sports: Surfing, BMX, downhill biking or skating, freeskiing and co. – these not-so-classic sports are becoming more and more popular, which is also slowly but surely transforming their image. 20 years ago, many recruiters considered action sports as a negative point in your application, as the risk of getting injured and thus dropping out is much higher than in conventional hobbies. Nowadays, at least in the sports industry, it’s a very different story. Of course, the activities mentioned above show a certain willingness to take risks, but this can also be interpreted positively. Courage to try new things and a healthy self-confidence are relevant for many sports jobs where not only operational day-to-day business is on the agenda. Moreover, extreme athletes often have modern rather than traditional views, are open-minded and curious.
  • Self-organised sports: jogging, walking, gym and co. Sports where you organise yourself are often associated with structure, organisation, conscientiousness, perseverance and reliability. Anyone who goes jogging at 5:30 a.m. before work can certainly confirm this.
  • Outdoor sports: These are especially popular with outdoor brands. Usually, sports that you do in nature or even depend on it show that you have a better understanding of your environment. Outdoor athletes tend to be more environmentally aware. Sustainability is often important to them in products and companies. If you want to apply for a job at a company with a sustainability policy, your love of the outdoors usually fits in well with the company culture.

It’s a match: your sport matches the brand’s products

You are passionate about a sport, maybe even a certain brand, and suddenly they post a job ad that sounds like your dream job – that’s the ideal scenario.
If your hobby, i.e. the sport you do, is relevant to the job, it will always add value to your CV in this situation. This could be trail running, for example, if you are applying for an outdoor brand, or snowboarding for a winter sports brand. Because normally you know what you expect from a product or brand that you would use yourself and can bring your perspective into the company in a positive way. In addition, there are certainly many team members in the company who have similar hobbies to yours, which has a positive effect on the atmosphere and corporate culture. 

This is what recruiters say about the relevance of sports interest in candidates:

“It’s about having access to the target group, the market, a perspective on the sports industry. It certainly helps to be active in sports yourself. If someone laces up his running shoes twice a week, that’s enough. They don’t have to be marathon runners.”

Nils Grote, Sales Manager at Altra

“To be honest, I think that if you work for a lifestyle or outdoor brand you should have passion for what the brand does and represents. In my opinion, only then, will you be able to fully contribute. If you’re not passionate about the outdoors, action sports, or whatever each brand embodies or represents, it’s not going to work.”

Marco Mombelli, Brand Experience Manager at The North Face

What if you do sports but they don’t match the brand’s product? Normally, that doesn’t detract from your application. Good team leads know that a mixture of different personalities makes a good team, as they complement each other and bring different perspectives and impulses. You still show an interest in sport and the associated values that are so important in the sports industry.

Which sports do not belong on the CV?

In general, if your hobby is not job-relevant, it has no place on your CV. However, as already mentioned, sport in the sports industry – as the name suggests – is actually always job-relevant. So there are few taboos in a CV related to sport. It’s just important that you don’t overdo it. You don’t have to list all the sports you do; instead, choose 1-3 that you practice regularly and that fit the job / company.

However, there are a few exceptions:

If the company has traditional values, it certainly makes more sense to indicate more conventional sports – although an unusual interest can certainly draw attention to your application or even create a personal connection.

If a company focuses on sustainability, motocross may not be the best choice on the CV either. 

Means: Depending on the application, decide individually, adapted to the company, what you state and what you do not state.

How do I include sport in my CV?

And how do I enter my hobbies in the application? It’s best to put them as a subheading in your CV. Hobbies also belong at the end of the CV, as your expertise is the main priority for a role.

  • Heading: “Interests and Commitment” or “Personal Interests”
  • Number: Maximum 1-3 sports, best to choose job-relevant sports
  • Instead of a bullet-point list, write a personal description:
    • If you list “running” or “cycling”, it seems a bit impersonal and downright boring. Describe your hobby in more detail and in more depth
    • Example: Jogging: Morning 5k-run for the last 5 years 
    • Example: Basketball since I was 15, currently shooting guard for MTV Kornberg in the regional league.

To show or not to show milestones and achievements in your CV?

Milestones and achievements don’t really belong in the CV, because you are not applying for a job as an athlete for a team. Furthermore, it can quickly look like you are bragging about them, which does not make you look very team-oriented. So your sporting CV is irrelevant, e.g. runner-up in 2007, cup winner in 2014, etc.

Exception: If your milestone demonstrates certain skills relevant to the job or a link to the brand (e.g. sponsored events by large companies), you should include it.
Example: 5k jogging every morning for 5 years, participation in Run For the Oceans 2022.

If you apply to adidas, who organise the Run For the Oceans, you show that you have engaged with the company and share their mission by participating yourself. 

How mentioning sport in your CV can make your job interview easier

By including your sport in your CV, you can be sure that your interviewer will come back to it during the interview. Since you are in familiar territory, this can only be a plus for you. Talking about the sport allows you to show your product experience, your strengths and part of your personality. 

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