How to make the hobbies and interests section of your resume more effective


The often copied-and-pasted or often-overlooked ‘hobbies and interests’ of your resumé section can serve a few purposes.  It can:

  • show that you are well-rounded if you include something physical, mental and social
  • demonstrate to the hiring manager that you would fit well with the current workforce or company culture—perhaps your love of golf fits the company’s style of doing business over golf or hosting of company golf tournaments
  • showcase your capacity for excellence in several areas

Although this section is not always necessary, here are some things you might want to consider if you do include it.

Tailor this section to the job posting

Although you need to be honest, you likely have more hobbies and interests than you will include on your resumé, so use the most suitable ones for each application.  In addition to your education and work experience, your hobbies and interests can demonstrate that you have specific skills that are requested in the job posting.

You might want to note your involvement in competitive team sports when applying to a leadership or management position, but avoid listing individual sports.

For an engineering or mechanical position, you might omit your interest in sports and instead mention that you enjoy working on your dirt bike or restoring old cars.

Sometimes you have to speculate as to what an employer might value.  For instance, many might overlook video-gaming, but my dentist recently mentioned that he values staff who play video games because their precise hand-eye coordination is transferable to using technology to make crowns.

If you fear appearing phony, add proof

For example, if you’re applying for a job that requires writing skills, and writing happens to be one of your hobbies, you could include a link to your blog, list prizes you have received for writing short stories, poetry, etc., or even just mention a publication with which you are associated.

Consider how certain hobbies or interests could be translated.

Your love of skydiving could make you seem like too much of a risk taker for some companies.  You might not seem compatible with desk or office work if all of your hobbies are outdoor, physical activities.  Reading and writing that are typically done in isolation and perceived as not very compatible with teamwork or customer service.

Remember that you can always be explicit offers some examples of how to translate your hobbies into job skills for a potential employer.  They give these examples:

  • Varsity soccer athlete with proven team working skills and competitive flair
  • Red Cross volunteer with experience using interpersonal skills in high stress medical environments
  • Serious chess player with an analytical mindset

For instance, Joe Grimm, Detroit Free Press recruiter, says, “If the former nail technician says, ‘Working with people’s hands — physically touching them as I worked and talked to them — taught me to quickly establish rapport and get them to trust me,’ I’m listening.”  In this case, it’s important that the applicant translates their hobby into job skills for the employer.

Consider what you’re revealing about yourself

Employers could potentially use this information to discriminate against you.  The organizations with which you are involved could reveal your religion, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political opinions, or other information that is not typically outlined in Canadian resumés or disclosed during the interview process.

Feel free to break the mold

This section doesn’t always need to just include hobbies and interests.  You can re-structure it to include experiences, awards, or even money you saved a company.

By Elizabeth Baisley,

TalentEgg is Canada’s leading online career resource for students and recent graduates.

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