A lot of HR experts will point out that hobbies and interests do not add any value to your professional resume and should be left off. However, hobbies and interests can add flavor to your resume that will make it much more appetizing to hiring managers. What’s the right answer? It depends.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
The difference between hobbies and interests
Why listing hobbies and interests on your resume can be good
When you should include hobbies and interests on your resume
How to include hobbies and interests on your resume
7 examples of hobbies and interests you can include on your resume
Why list hobbies and interests on your resume?
Should you include hobbies and interests on your resume? The short answer is, probably. But, you have to do it carefully and strategically. Having hobbies and interests on your resume can do some positive things for you. For example, they can…
Show recruiters that you are a good fit for the organization. Companies aren’t just looking for automatons to sit and answer phones and type at their computers all day. Your hobbies and interests will give them some insight into your personality, values, and traits.
Help you stand out from the crowd. Anything that makes you unique (positively) will differentiate you from other candidates.
Highlight your strengths and abilities. Hobbies can build skills that could be useful to your potential employer.
Show that you are good at learning new things. Hobbies like music, programming, art, or construction can show that you have talent and self-discipline for mastering new skills.
Help make a connection with the recruiter. A hobby in common with the employer or hiring manager might give you a leg up in the interview. It can also give you something to break the ice and create conversation.
Provide you with some talking points to connect with your interviewer.
The hobbies and interests you include on your resume should be attention grabbers and will hopefully encourage your interviewer to ask questions or have a conversation about them.
When should you include hobbies and interests on your resume?
People with long careers and extensive professional experience can skip having hobbies or interests on their resumes. Space on your resume is precious and you must make every word count.
There are, however, several scenarios in which including hobbies or interests can be beneficial:
You’re switching careers. If you’ve decided to change career paths, then your professional experience may not be strictly applicable to your new career path. But maybe your hobbies can demonstrate that you have relevant skills.
You’re a recent school or college graduate. Often people right out of school have little or no job experience. Hobbies and interests can give you some content to include on your resume. Add activities that show your skills and strengths.
You have gaps in employment. If you have significant time gaps on your resume, hobbies can help explain how you spent that time. For example, you could say that you took time off to learn a new skill.
You’re in a highly competitive field. If you’re competing for a very popular job, then your hobbies and interests can help you stand apart from others.
You want to fit the company culture. You may find some things in the company culture matches one of your hobbies or interests.
How do you include hobbies and interests on your resume?
Keep the list short - 3 to 5 at most. A long list of interests can overwhelm the reader. They’ll stop looking after the first few. Focus on hobbies that are relevant to the position. For example, creating programs is an advantage when applying for a software designer. An interest in painting could be a good thing if you’re applying for a graphics design firm.
Choose hobbies that show you have skills. Coaching basketball at your local rec center shows you have the ability to organize a group of people to achieve a common goal. Volunteering to build houses demonstrates you’re able to work with diverse groups of people and that you are good with your hands.
Look at what is the company looking for. Check the job description and the company website for anything you can tie to your hobbies or interests. For example, if you see the job ad says they're looking for someone who can bring new ideas, then you could include some of your creative hobbies.
List your hobbies and interests in a separate section. If you want to highlight your hobbies and interests, then have them near the top. If you have a lot of experience and education, then put them at the bottom of your resume.
Make your hobbies specific. Keep them short (one line or less), but give them enough to know what you are talking about.
Running - Competed in 5 marathons (2020-2023) and was among the top 200 runners in all 5.
Blogging - Frequently create blogs for three different websites about movies, TV, and books.
Guitar - Avid bass guitarist for over 10 years and part of a local band that plays on weekends.
You should not list controversial hobbies such as guns or narcotics. The same goes for anything divisive hobbies - related to politics, religion, nationalities, or race. Any of these will probably take you out of the running.
Lastly, keep them interesting. Vague or dull hobbies aren’t going to interest most people. Unless they are very relevant to the job, leave them off.
7 Examples of hobbies and interests you can put on your resume
Art. Being an artist demonstrates creativity, imagination, and inventiveness. These things contribute to critical thinking, which is a key skill that employers look for.
Dance. Dancing is a very social activity that develops collaborative skills, improves cognitive performance, and is an overall healthy pass time.
Photography. Photography takes technical, conceptual, and collaborative skills, as well as creativity.
Podcasting. Having this on your list of hobbies demonstrates that you have tech skills as well as marketing, research, and organizational skills.
Sports. Any sport. Exercise in general requires self-discipline, patience, and overcoming setbacks. Team sports clearly show communication and interpersonal skills, too.
Volunteering. This shows a lot of initiative and strong morals. It also builds organization and leadership skills.
Writing. Anything that demonstrates written communication skills is beneficial for most jobs. It also shows creativity and self-motivation.
Your resume only has seconds to grab the attention of recruiters. Hobbies and interests are good attention-getters, but make sure they add value to your abilities that are beneficial for the job.
Hobbies and interests can make your resume stand out
Include only ones that are relevant to the role
Use them sparingly (3 to 5)
Put them in a separate section
Make them specific and interesting