How to Include Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume

Including work experience and related skills is a given when creating a resume, but what about your interests and hobbies? Many people have a passion project outside of their professional realm, but should you include interests on your resume? Here’s how to decide when to include any personal interests on your resume, and what’s the best method to work them in.

Hobbies vs. Interests

How do you spend your time after work and on weekends? As you think about the hobbies and interests you could include on your resume, it’s important to know the difference between the two. A hobby is an activity you participate in regularly during your free time. A few examples of resume-worthy hobbies include:

  • Regular volunteer work with an organization.
  • An annual club membership.
  • Creative activities, such as art, music or blogging.
  • Team sports or any activity that requires you to work in a group.

An interest, on the other hand, is a topic or activity that you’re intrigued by but have done very little with. For example, maybe you want to learn Spanish and have recently taken a few web-based classes. That’s an interest worth mentioning because it shows that you’re open to new experiences and willing to learn.

The interests and hobbies in your resume might be what set you apart from the crowd.

Use your passion projects to showcase your personality

In the age of automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) and preliminary screening processes that sort resumes before they reach human eyes, it may seem futile to include your outside interests. It can feel more important to focus on keywords in your resume. But once you’re past the ATS, the interests and hobbies in your resume might be what set you apart from the crowd.

your outside activities and interests can give insight into your personality

Tailor your interests based on the job

Not every hobby makes sense on every resume. The best items to include will depend on the job you are applying for. Nevertheless, highlighting the right outside activities could still give you an edge over other applicants.

If you’re well-qualified for the job and possess the required skills, your outside activities and interests can give insight into your personality. Think about what you’re trying to convey to potential employers. As you research the company, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do my hobbies and interests reflect the organization’s work culture?
  • Does this employer value outside interests?
  • Do my interests reflect traits that are essential for the role?

For example, if you’re hoping to land a sales job that requires socializing and an outgoing personality, a team-oriented hobby like a kickball team or Rotary Club will show that you enjoy being around other people and working with them to reach a goal. If you’re applying for a job that requires technical skills, a cerebral hobby—like chess—will showcase your analytical side and ability to think critically.

To figure out if your potential employer values outside interests, take a look at their website and social media presence. Did they post pictures of their employees finishing a 10K or playing in a softball game? Do they mention specific charities or organizations they partner with? If you get a sense that they value well-roundedness and work-life balance, consider mentioning a hobby or interest on your resume.

Use activities and interests to fill gaps

If you have limited work experience or significant time out of the workforce, your hobbies and special interests can help fill in the gaps in your resume. First, start with a functional resume format that emphasizes your skills and achievements rather than your work history.

Next, look at the job description and consider which of your hobbies and interests reveal the in-demand skills and qualities required for the job. Remember, your interests are valuable, too. A willingness to learn shows initiative and drive—two traits that may make you a good match for the company.

How to add hobbies and interests to your resume

Remember, employers are looking for a candidate that is the best fit for their company. You may find during your research that your hobbies and interests won’t benefit your resume—if that’s the case, remove them. Each company is different, and your resume should reflect the unique culture and requirements of each organization.

With some companies, though, including your personal projects on your resume can help you stand out in the crowd. That doesn’t mean your hobbies have to be unique. If you’re a marathoner, your employer will likely be impressed at your commitment to training and mental toughness to finish the race. If you have a crafty hobby, like knitting or watercolors, you’re demonstrating creativity. As you add relevant hobbies and activities, keep these tips in mind:

  • Prioritize your work history, skills, or achievements, depending on the resume format you choose. Hobbies, interests and passion projects should be the final activities section of your resume.
  • Be specific. For example, if you enjoy reading, mention your favorite genre, or if you love photography, mention personal photography projects you’ve undertaken.
  • Only include examples that complement your resume and relate to the job.
  • Try to keep your resume to one page. If your hobbies and activities spill onto a second page, consider removing some or omitting them.

Topics to avoid on your resume

You want your resume to reflect your best traits. Before you include any outside activities, carefully consider whether the potential employer will view it as an asset or liability. Hobbies to keep off your resume include:

  • Interests that reveal personal or sensitive information, such as political or religious activities.
  • Dangerous or violent hobbies, such as gun or knife collecting, drag racing and bungee jumping.
  • Antisocial behavior or activities that could alienate you from social norms, like a fascination with slasher films (there’s, of course, nothing wrong with liking the movies, in general, but if it’s the only thing an employer knows about you, it could strike the wrong note).

The goal is to be relatable, likable and considered an asset to the company. If there is any doubt that your outside interests could be misconstrued, don’t include them.

Another time to consider leaving your hobbies off your resume? If they could lead a prospective employer to think your true interest is elsewhere…and that you might soon leave this job to pursue that passion. For example, most people aren’t going to become professional runners or knitters, so those activities won’t raise red flags on a resume. But if you mention that one of your hobbies is being a wedding photographer, a prospective employer might question your interest in this position or worry that your side hustle might cut into your commitments for your full-time position.

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