Including Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume
Your resume should of course include sections for your contact information, work experience, and education details, but there are also a few optional sections you can add as well, such as hobbies and interests. It might seem counterintuitive to include such personal details on a professional document, but there are several instances where doing so can be beneficial.
This article will cover whether or not it makes sense for you to include these sections on your resume and if you decide to do so, how to make your hobbies and interests work to your benefit in a job application scenario.
Should You List Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume?
Here are some specific guidelines to help you decide whether or not to include your hobbies and interests on your resume:
When Not To Include Hobbies on Your Resume:
- If you have plenty of professional experience in your field and you are applying for another job in the same industry. In this case, you’ll probably have a lot of other information to include and since space on a resume is so limited, it’s better to prioritize your work experience and relevant qualifications over details that aren’t strictly necessary, like what you do outside of work.
Consider Adding Your Hobbies In These Circumstances:
- If you don’t have much to list under your work history or education sections, such as if you are a student or recent graduate. This will help fill out your resume and prevent it from looking sparse, while also allowing potential employers to get to know you a little bit.
- If you are making a career change. You may have limited skills to list that directly relate to your goal position, and this personal information will help flesh out your resume.
- If the employer specifically asks for that information. As always, you should follow any explicit directions the employer gives.
- If the company values unique personalities and traits. In this case, showcasing your personality by listing your hobbies and interests will add value to your resume.
- If your hobbies and interests line up with any of the characteristics or responsibilities outlined in the job posting. Listing your relevant hobbies and interests will further reinforce that you are the best person for the job.
Decide whether to include your hobbies and interests on your resume on a case-by-case basis. Research the company before you submit your application to find out if the employer emphasizes supporting outside-of-work activities or if they prefer a strictly business approach.
Adding an interests section can vitalize your resume, help potential employers connect with you on a personal level, and make your application stand out from the crowd. Many companies are placing increasing value on workplace culture - they want to hire employees that will fit in and work well with their existing team. Hobbies and interests indicate how you spend your spare time and provide insight into your personality, which can help create a positive first impression before the employer has even met you.
The Difference Between Hobbies and Interests
Hobbies and interests are, in fact, different. Hobbies are activities that you regularly do (e.g. you play basketball in a rec league) and interests are more cerebral, conceptual, or goal-oriented (e.g. you are interested in basketball trivia).
You can use this distinction to your advantage to position yourself as a good fit for a job. If, for example, the position requires regular travel abroad but you haven’t traveled much, you could say that you are interested in international travel. This indicates that you are open to and excited about the possibility, but you won’t be falsely claiming that you travel frequently by listing it as a hobby.
Ultimately, both hobbies and interests are generally pursued outside of work hours, non-professionally, and usually for no pay - otherwise the activity would qualify as work and should go under your work experience section.
Not All Hobbies and Interests Are Appropriate for Resumes
Be strategic regarding which of your hobbies and interests you include on your resume and consider how each one will be interpreted by a potential employer. For instance, playing in your basketball rec league indicates that you prioritize your health and fitness, you can work well with a team, and you are outgoing.
On the other hand, saying that your hobbies include playing video games could suggest negative connotations since that’s usually a solitary activity. Many video games include violence, and gaming is sometimes considered an addicting activity.
Review the job description and include activities that are relevant, reflect positively on you as a potential employee, and subtly highlight your skills.
Examples of Attractive Hobbies and Interests
Here are some examples of attractive hobbies and interests to list on your resume and what each one might suggest about you:
- Volunteering or community activities: These hobbies show that you take initiative, are altruistic, have strong moral fiber, and may have organizational and/or leadership skills.
- Writing or blogging: These activities indicate that you have strong communication skills, which are necessary for almost any profession and are one of the most desired traits in potential employees.
- Social media or podcasting: Both social media and podcasting experience indicate that you are up-to-date on current technology, have at least a basic handle on marketing and audience building, and possess some industry expertise.
- Learning other languages: In today’s global workplace, speaking almost any other language in addition to English is a sought-after skill. Studying other languages also suggests intelligence, dedication, a good memory, and strong problem-solving skills.
- Creative pursuits (art, photography, playing music, etc.): Many jobs require creative skills, and listing your creative pursuits indicates critical thinking skills, good conceptualization, and collaborative abilities.
- Sports, exercise, or outdoor activities: Fitness-related activities imply self-discipline, sportsmanship, health-consciousness, and patience.
- Travel: Travel indicates worldly awareness, cultural sensitivity, adaptability, and organization.
- Reading: Reading keeps your mind sharp and helps reduce stress, and it suggests that you have a healthy work-life balance. However, it is a bit generic, so consider including some of your favorite work-appropriate genres or authors.
What to Leave Off Your Resume
Of course, you should never include hobbies or interests that are violent, overly dangerous, or illegal. Avoid listing anything that has to do with politics, religion, or other private activities as these topics can be controversial and potentially alienating. Leave off anything that is antisocial in nature or that could be potentially misinterpreted (watching true crime documentaries or studying famous murderers, for example).
Finally, don’t include anything that’s too out-there or strange. It’s okay to be quirky and unique, but don’t intentionally include outrageous hobbies or interests on your resume. It will likely come off as insincere or as if you aren’t taking the job application process seriously. Plus, most companies are looking for employees who will mesh well with their existing team.
Don’t be obsequious or ingratiating with your hobbies. For example, if you are applying for a job in accounting, don’t list accounting or math as an interest - it’s already implied. Feel confident to show your personality by including your real hobbies or interests. An employer will appreciate finding out a bit of your true nature.
How To Add Hobbies and Interests to Your Resume
If you’ve decided that it makes sense for you to include hobbies and interests in your resume, here’s how to do effectively:
Research the Company and Person Interviewing You
Do some basic background research on the company that you are applying to and the person who will potentially be interviewing you if you know who that is. Carefully read the job description to identify the company’s desired traits, and browse through their website and social media pages to get a better understanding of their values and culture. You can also peruse company reviews online to gain perspective from current or former employees.
Use this research to determine what types of hobbies and interests will be attractive to that specific company and hiring manager.
Use This Section to Highlight Your Skills and Personality
Especially if you don’t have a lot of work experience or professional skills to highlight, use your interests section to outline useful skills and relevant personality traits. As outlined above, your hobbies and interests can say a lot about you, so choose wisely and showcase what you have to offer to the company.
However, don’t list hobbies and interests in the place of actual skills. While a potential employer may interpret your interests and deduce various skills from them, don’t assume that they will do so. Your hobbies and interests section should be used to subtly reinforce your skills.
Place Your Hobbies and Interests at the Bottom of Your Resume
Create a specific section on your resume that is titled ‘Hobbies and Interests’ or just ‘Interests’ and place it at the very bottom of the page. Other sections like your header, resume summary statement, work experience, education, and skills take priority and should be listed first. If adding hobbies and interests will make your resume longer than one page, don’t force it - just omit the section.
Be Specific, Interesting, and Honest
Of course, you should never include hobbies that you don’t really do or interests that you don’t actually have. A potential employer might very well ask about your listed hobbies and interests in an interview, so only list something if you are prepared to talk about it.
Avoid listing a bunch of generic hobbies without any details. Instead of just saying your hobbies are ‘reading and listening to music,’ write ‘I enjoy reading travel memoirs by female authors and listening to alternative rock music.’
And again, include your interesting and unique hobbies without venturing too far into weird or obscure territory.
Limit to 5 Interests and/or Hobbies
Potential employers will likely only spend a few seconds glancing through your resume, and they don’t want to read about every activity you’ve ever done in your life. Make a list of your current hobbies and interests, pick the top five to include, and give a short description for each.
Adding a list of interests and hobbies to your resume should be done intentionally and with careful consideration. Doing so can add dimension to your resume and help you stand out from a sea of applicants, and it can fill out a resume that’s light on work experience or relevant skills.
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