A well-written resume should present a potential employer with a substantial idea of which skills and expertise you would bring to the job. Beyond that, there are ways to add some character to your resume.
How? You do that by adding some personal interests and hobbies.
However, finding interesting and exciting things to say about yourself (that are still appropriate to include in your resume) may not be easy. Here you’ll find some of the best advice on how to list personal interests and hobbies on your resume, as recommended by experts.
Table of Contents
- Hobbies and interests must be relevant to the job or industry to which you are applying
- Keep hobbies and interest generic and vague
- You need to convey your “best fit” and value to your target audience
- Be aware of the position you’re applying for and minimize impertinent information
- Consider whether or not the information is relevant to the job role
- Take time to decide if listing personal interests will help you or hurt you
- Be as honest as possible and avoid canned responses
Robyn L. Coburn
Author | Founder, Robyn Coburn Resume Review
Hobbies and interests must be relevant to the job or industry to which you are applying
Usually, when I receive a resume from a client with “Hobbies and Interests” as a heading, the first thing I do is remove that section. Most of the time, it is just taking up much-needed space and often seems tacked on the end as an afterthought.
If your resume has strong enough work experience, with good job titles, sufficient duties, and great achievements expressed through metrics, then you don’t need to add that personal information – even if the interests are related.
Sometimes a better place for them is in your cover letter if there is some reason to mention them. I always refer to my client, who played table tennis and noticed a ping pong table set up in the common area on a company website. That was a great opportunity to mention her hobby.
However, there are some times when the interests are helpful to include on a resume:
- When you are changing jobs or careers, your hobbies and interests might be providing the key skills that are relevant.
In this instance, it is important to express the hobby and the skills in as professional a manner as possible and include any achievements such as prizes or publications. Add any education or certifications – just as if it were a job. I would recommend using the heading “Other Experience” rather than “Interests.” Then include an explanation of the professional level of your hobby in your cover letter.
- If you are new to the workforce and do not have a lot of experience, your relevant hobbies will help to fill out your resume.
This is especially helpful if your hobbies do involve a set of higher-level skills.
- If your hobbies and interests align with the Mission or Values Statement of the hiring company, then that is an ideal time to include them.
This is especially good if you have been volunteering for a related or similar organization. For example, if your hobby is a wildlife rescue, and your job application is for a company that manufactures pet supplies, there is a direct and meaningful link between the professional and personal parts of your life and experience. Some companies have corporate giving or charities that they support – if your interest aligns, then you should say so, either on your resume or, certainly, in your cover letter.
If your hobbies and interests can be expressed as Volunteer Work or Community Service rather than “hobbies,” that brings a more professional and skills-based demeanor for the resume – if you need more content.
The main underlying principle is that the hobbies and interests MUST be relevant to the job, company, or industry to which you are applying to be on a resume, and fill a hole in your work experience.
CEO & Founder, ProRecruiters
Keep hobbies and interest generic and vague
While listing personal interests and hobbies on a resume, my advice to job seekers is to make sure that the bulk of a resume focuses on skills, strengths, and job history to provide a potential employer a crystal clear idea of the type of work they would be able to do.
Personal interest and hobbies are a way to articulate who you are as a person. However, if you are tossing out your resume to a myriad of potential hiring managers, you do not know their background and their personal bias. Personal bias exists in us all. They help guide us when making decisions.
As humans, we learn from history and experiences, and they shape who we are. What can happen is that you can list a hobby or an interest that is in complete conflict to the person who gets the resume, and it could prohibit you from ever getting a chance to interview.
If you put skydiving, avid tattoo artist, or noodling as a hobby, you run the risk of your audience thinking that you are too much of a risk-taker and not responsible because of the dangers that surround those hobbies. On the flip side, you might connect with someone because they share similar interests.
If you are going to blast your resume out to all types of companies and jobs, my advice is to keep hobbies and interest generic and vague enough on your resume so that you limit or reduce your risk of not getting an invitation to interview because of what you put on your resume.
Examples of generic activities would be:
- religious studies,
- volunteer work that you do,
- reading, or
- anything that may be professionally relevant.
The in-person interview is the time to share a little bit more about yourself. The resume should be primarily focused on work and the skills you would bring to the table but not the time to illustrate who you are on a personal level. However, if you know your audience, you know the hiring manager or the company culture, and your interest and hobbies are in alignment with theirs, then go ahead and add a section to speak to that.
Stacey Ross Cohen
President & CEO, Co-Communications
You need to convey your “best fit” and value to your target audience
You must understand what the decision-maker needs, how they function and what drives them to take action. This is not a matter of me-me-me—it’s about your value to others. Why should they choose you for this coveted position? What is it that makes you stand out from the other job applicants?
The first step toward answering this question is conducting a self-audit to identify your purpose, strengths, values, and passion. By plotting all this out, you’ll crystallize your competitive advantage or Why Choose Me?
Hobbies and interests are a great way to share skills that you’ve acquired outside the workplace and demonstrate that you are in sync with the work culture. Choose hobbies and interests that you believe are relevant to your respective field.
For instance, if you are an athlete and played soccer in college, this would be meaningful information for an employer who values team players and collaboration. Also, make sure to identify words that best describe your soft skills or personality:
- critical thinker, etc.
As well as your hard skills:
- project management,
- computer/app development knowledge,
- data analysis, etc.
Project Manager, Novomotus
Be aware of the position you’re applying for and minimize impertinent information
I don’t think Resumes are the place to get overly creative or personal beyond what might be relevant to the industry. For example, listing your hobby of playing guitar isn’t really relevant if you’re applying for a position with a financial management group. That is unless you know the hiring manager plays in a band on the weekends.
Every time we consider a new hire, whoever takes the lead on going through resumes ends up with a huge stack to go through. I think three great considerations are ensuring that your resume gets to the point, showcasing your credentials as favorably as possible, and not adding fluff that’s going to waste a hiring manager’s precious time. Any details beyond those should be added for a specific reason.
Don’t get me wrong—if you’re applying for a creative position at a marketing agency, it might very well be advantageous to have a colorful resume—maybe even some type of animated online resume to showcase one’s demo reel. That’s not likely to be well-received if you’re applying for a construction management position.
Be contextually aware of the position you’re applying for, do some research to get ideas of how others are formatting their resumes, and minimize impertinent information. Remember, your resume might be the 110th one a hiring manager has read that day. Making them weed through personal stories and lists of hobbies won’t do you any favors.
Founder, Ready Set Resumes | Resume Writer | Career Coach
Consider whether or not the information is relevant to the job role
Candidates often ask if they should include interests and hobbies on their resumes. It is a good question. The answer is, “It depends.” When determining information to list on a resume, consider whether or not the information is relevant to the job role.
Employers are often overwhelmed with resume submittals. With this in mind, it is imperative to use the resume to emphasize any job-related information and minimize information that is irrelevant to the job.
For a job seeker who is seeking a role as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), volunteer experience with a senior center or enjoying cooking as a hobby could be considered relevant because those activities speak to skills potentially required on the job. However, listing an interest or hobby such as ice skating would not be relevant to the CNA job, so I would recommend leaving it off.
Dr. Sharon Meit Abrahams
President, Legal Talent Advisors
Take time to decide if listing personal interests will help you or hurt you
Listing interests and hobbies on a resume gives the reader insight into your personality and preferred working environment. For example, if you list skiing, reading, and cooking, these all mean you like to work alone as these are individual activities.
If you prefer pick-up basketball games, belong to a book club, and enjoy cooking classes, these mean you are more of a team person. If the interviewer is well trained, they will pick up on these clues and ask you specific questions to suss out more about your working style. This is the type of information that will be used to see if you fit into the company’s culture. Take the time to decide if listing personal interests and hobbies will help you, or hurt you when applying for a job.
Chief Marketing Officer, Ink & Quill Communications
When it comes to the information you should include on your resume; the general rule is not to include interests and hobbies. For the most part, the only information that belongs on your resume is that which supports your career trajectory.
The exceptions would be to include interests and hobbies that are in alignment with the company to which you’re applying.
For instance, if applying with a company that works with dogs—and your interests include fostering dogs—that would be appropriate to include. Otherwise, no.
Matthew Warzel, CPRW
President, MJW Careers, LLC
While I don’t prefer to add hobbies or interests to the resumes I write, it’s definitely a practice that can go any way. It may not sway most readers either way, but if you’re trying to save space, drop these off the resume.
If you have space, you can always add them on there, but put them at the very bottom of the resume, at the end of all other content and categories. And do not be bizarre; you do not need to overshare either—just a few really passionate activities you love.
Founder & Writer, Skillscouter
Be as honest as possible and avoid canned responses
When it comes to adding personal interests and hobbies on a CV, we always recommend being as honest as possible and avoid canned responses such as gym, reading, cycling, etc.
Instead, we find that going more granular in your interests is a great ice breaker in an interview. Some examples could be: reading Harry Potter books, HIIT exercises, cooking Vietnamese food, etc. By being more granular in your responses, this has shown to have great success in follow up interviews.