Ah, who doesn’t want a magic formula for landing a job interview?
Sadly, listing hobbies and interests on your resume isn’t one of them.
Whilst they may be handy on some occasions, a recruiter will rarely invite you for an interview solely based on your personal interests.
Read on to find out what hobbies say about you on a resume, when you can include them, and when they should be totally avoided.
This article includes:
Is There a Difference Between Hobbies and Personal Interests?
There are some key differences between hobbies and personal interests.
A hobby is an activity you partake in for enjoyment, such as playing a sport, yoga, and meditation, fishing, surfing, etc.
Or for the more eccentric readers amongst you, you may be a lover of beetle fighting or extreme ironing (yes those are real things).
Conversely, personal interest is something you have an awareness or curiosity about and often involves research and gathering knowledge.
However, you frequently find that they become combined as people become more involved.
For example, scuba diving can start out as a fun hobby to enjoy the outdoors and see beautiful underwater scenery.
This can spark curiosity, and you could develop a desire to understand marine life, so you begin to research and read up on marine biology.
Another example is that you volunteer at a local charity mainly to socialize with people who have the same interests. But your involvement opens your eyes to injustices in society, leading to a keen interest in studying, supporting, and lobbying for change.
The easiest way to know the difference is in how you would explain what you do. For instance, if you’d verbalize it as “I play tennis” or “I collect recipes”, it’s likely a hobby because it ends there.
On the other hand, personal interests are much more descriptive. “I play tennis and also coach a team of 8 to 10-year-old tennis enthusiasts”. Or “I have a keen interest in clean food and healthy eating, so I’ve started a blog to grow awareness”.
While these examples are great, and it’s vital we have an active life outside of work, they only belong on a resume if they have relevance to the job you’re applying for.
Will Including Hobbies and Interests Hurt My Chances?
Your resume is your opportunity to get noticed and secure an interview.
See it as a sales document, only that the product being sold is yourself.
It also offers only one chance to be seen for each job application. This means you must get it right every time (fortunately, an online resume builder makes this effortless).
Keep in mind that any hobbies and personal interests you add to your resume will be regarded as a reflection of who you are and what you have to offer.
They won’t be viewed separately.
So if they’re inappropriate or controversial, the reader will project that back onto you. And considering they don’t know you personally, their conclusions might end up being farfetched and invalid.
Remember that resumes in the early stages of the hiring process are only briefly scanned by a recruiter or passed through resume parsing software. Both are looking for keywords and experience — nothing else, and it takes no more than a few seconds.
Studies have actually shown that the average time hiring managers look at resumes is usually only 7 seconds!
You definitely deserve more than that.
So make sure the minimum job requirements are on your resume so that it gets moved to the shortlist; if not, your application will be discarded from the process.
As your resume is moved along, the recruiter starts paying closer attention. Suppose your resume is too long and filled with useless information.
In that case, it likely will be put aside for a more reader-friendly option.
Even if you make it onto the shortlist, there are usually several people in a hiring team. If you list hobbies and personal interests on a resume that any of them doesn’t like, they’ll vote against you.
Where the reader is biased, even unconsciously, it can influence their decision to invite you for an interview, so your application gets binned.
That’s why you need to be careful about hobbies and personal interests clouding the reader’s judgment and costing you a career opportunity.
Examples of Potential Bias
While religion, politics, and sex are obvious topics to avoid, even innocent hobbies and personal interests on a resume can see it getting thrown in the bin.
Let’s say an applicant lists hunting as a hobby and the reader is vegan — personal prejudice may step in, and the application process ends there.
Or the recruiter can decide that someone who coaches children in the evenings must be a clock-watcher who’ll be keen to pack up at day end. Another opportunity gets lost without the applicant ever knowing why they didn’t make it any further.
Even including that you like to watch TV could see you labeled as a lazy couch potato, whist the complete opposite might be true.
You’ll never know what preferences and prejudices the reader has.
So to play it safe, avoid listing hobbies and personal interests on a resume unless you’re 100% certain they’ll add value to your application.
How Do I Add Hobbies and Personal Interests to My Resume
There are 2 golden rules to remember when listing hobbies and personal interests on a resume –
- Is it relevant to the job requirements?
- Will it enhance my application?
Unless the answer is a resounding “yes” to both questions, leave personal interests and hobbies off your resume.
Where you have hobbies and interests that align with the job requirements or company culture, always list them briefly at the end of your resume. Almost like a closing statement.
Also, elaborate on them using only a few words in concise bullet points.
That way, the reader understands why they’re there. In addition, keep the interests or hobbies you include to a minimum — a maximum of two or three at the most.
Here are a few examples –
- Job: Marketing Communications Coordinator
Interest: I am an active member of Toastmaster International.
- Job: Auto Mechanic
Hobby: I buy and refurbish old model vehicles.
- Job: Waiter/waitress
Hobby and interest: I enjoy sampling local cuisines and promoting them on my blog.
- Job: Bookkeeper
Interest: I am a volunteer treasurer at a local animal shelter.
On a Final Note
Hobbies and personal interests in a resume are only a good idea when you’re absolutely confident they’ll enhance your application and not jeopardize it.
It’s really not worth the risk if you’re unsure.
When in doubt, an online resume builder is an excellent option. Not only do you receive guidance on including these extra sections in your doc, but there are resume templates and examples to help you get hired fast.