How to Use Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume
What Is the Difference Between a Hobby and an Interest?
Including examples of hobbies and interests on a resume is an excellent way to give an employer a deeper insight into you as an individual, as well as subtly indicating positive aspects of your skills and personality.
In order to really use your hobbies and interests to your advantage, it is important to completely understand the differences between the two.
An interest does what it says: you are interested in an interest.
Perhaps you get involved in doing activities related to it or perhaps you just spend hours reading about it; it could be either.
In contrast, for something to be a hobby, you must be a more active participant in something that interests you.
For example, you might have an interest in art, but your hobbies include mountain hiking and outdoor swimming; although you perhaps enjoy reading about art or going to art exhibitions to pursue and expand your interest.
For both interests and hobbies, you choose to spend your free time either engaged in them (hobbies) or learning more about them (interests).
Pursuing a hobby is often an ongoing activity that you regularly commit to because you enjoy it so much. An interest might be something that you engage with less but could develop into a hobby.
A hobby is more likely to give you skills whereas an interest is more likely to have given you knowledge.
What Are the Benefits of Including Them on Your Resume?
Highlight Transferable Skills
There are many ways to show how your skills developed through your hobbies can be transferable in the workplace; after all, who you are as a person should not dramatically change between your work and free time.
For example, when you list ultramarathon running as your hobby, you should briefly talk about the discipline and perseverance it requires of you, and how you would apply these to the job.
Highlight Extracurricular or Community Activities
Any sort of volunteering activity, where you are selflessly giving up your time for the benefit of the community, will show a caring side to your personality.
If you can demonstrate this, you are already cleverly showing a recruiter that you are thoughtful and considerate.
Give the Recruiter a Rounded Impression of You
The first thing a recruiter does is to assess whether you possess the relevant skills or experience for the job role.
The next thing is to look for clues regarding whether you will fit within the company’s culture.
An increasingly important part of contemporary hiring is to value personality much more than ever before.
A smart hiring manager will realise that in order to retain happy employees, it is crucial to ensure that they get along together easily and promote the company’s ethos as naturally as possible by being the best versions of themselves.
For example, a fun, dynamic and forward-thinking company will naturally want to hire employees with the same attributes.
Showing a sense of fun, dynamism and forward-thinking can be difficult to do with experience and qualifications alone – this is where including interests and hobbies comes in very handy.
Topic of Discussion for Your Interview
Giving the person interviewing you an awareness of what makes you tick outside of work can be a great icebreaker.
It can also give you a chance to shine outside of the confines of the standard interview questions.
We all naturally become more confident and engaged when we talk about something we are passionate about.
As well as making you feel good when you talk to your interviewer, it should leave your interviewer with an enhanced impression of you.
Make Your Application Memorable
Including hobbies and interests that cleverly reveal your alignment with the job role and company culture will help to make your application more memorable than head-on statements. It is 'show, don’t tell' for your resume.
Consider stating, “I am a team player” versus showing that you are a team player by telling the recruiter you are a member of a football team.
Moreover, hobbies and interests that are particularly unique are an effective addition to making your resume stand out from the crowd.
Every recruiter will remember the person who carves wooden statues of frogs using a chainsaw.
However, be careful that the hobbies and interests you choose still align with the company and the role.
An aggressive or extreme hobby might not sit well with a desk job, so leave out your amateur wrestling; but another hobby that you have might, so leave in your daily origami.
When You Should or Should Not Include Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume
It is very important to only include your hobbies and interests on your resume if they are relevant to the role.
This does not necessarily mean that they need to be directly related but they do at least need to be transferable and add something tangible to your application.
For example, weightlifting might show dedication to routine and a focused, goal-orientated mindset.
This would be a great transferable skill for a sales role where it is all about meeting goals and having a strong mindset to meet targets.
It would be less suitable for a role that requires more spontaneity and flexibility, such as a substitute teacher.
What a Hobby or Interest Says About You
Here are some examples of key hobbies and interests and how you might use them in a job application:
Hobby – Mountain Climbing
This requires map skills, planning ability, and a focus on training and fitness.
These are wonderful, proactive personality assets that show commitment, dedication and focus.
This would be a great hobby to include on a resume closely related to the management of a team or perhaps to offset an otherwise dry or academic resume.
Interest – Natural World
Such an interest hints at an awareness not only of the beauty of nature but also of the challenges and problems that face it.
Being aware of and interested in nature also shows an open-mindedness that goes beyond the immediacy of self.
This interest would relate well to a job that has some aspects of positive environmental impact within it.
For example, a marketing role for an organic delivery company would be great, as your interest is already similar to the company's area.
It also demonstrates thoughtfulness and kindness which might be good for jobs working with children (where your knowlege of nature would also be an asset).
Hobby – Gardening
Not only does this show an interest in the natural world, but it also shows patience and creativity, with the suggestion of good forward-planning skills.
Nurturing a plant from a seed into a mature plant takes planning, persistence and skill.
This is a great hobby to include as it shows several positive transferable skills that could relate to many different job roles; for example, a role as a retail manager.
Interest – Foreign Languages
This shows a natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge. It also shows a desire and interest in communication, and a wish to immerse oneself more deeply into a foreign culture.
This could also develop easily into a hobby. In fact, provided you can speak a foreign language beyond the basic level, it should always be put as a skill on your resume.
Any communications-based role would be a great match for this interest.
How and Where to Put Your Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume
When including examples of hobbies and interests, make sure that you are including them to make a specific point, such as to show transferable skills or to fill a gap in a resume without a lot of work experience.
When writing out your hobbies and interests, explain them in a similar way to your work experience: show the recruiter how they align with the job role.
Do not assume that the recruiter will understand everything that goes into a given activity.
For example, instead of just writing, “I am part of my local climbing group” instead say:
“I enjoy organising trips with my local climbing group. This includes logistical organisation, route planning and managing my groups’ kit lists.”
Being more explicit like this makes it easier for the recruiter to understand and see why you are a good fit.
Put hobbies and interests at the bottom of your resume as they are beneficial bonuses but not the first thing a recruiter should see.
What to Avoid When Writing Your Hobbies and Interests
Not all of your hobbies and interests will sell you to your best advantage.
As mentioned above, some hobbies fit better with certain jobs than others, sometimes because of the personality traits they portray and, unfortunately, sometimes because of stereotypes.
For example, a recruiter for a school may feel nervous about hiring a chainsaw-sculpture artist to teach the nursery school children because of unfounded fear about a ‘chainsaw-wielding school teacher’ or because the hobby does not support the person’s claims of being a good team leader as it is a solo hobby.
The key to this is to carefully assess each interest and hobby of yours and rank it against the company and job role in terms of relevance.
Political interests or hobbies can be particularly tricky.
For example, you might feel passionately for a particular political party and help to distribute for them in your spare time, but despite showing commitment and potential marketing knowledge, this might not go down well with a PR company that might be anxious that candidates remain judicial and apolitical.
On the other hand, if you are applying for a role at a café that distributes free food to the homeless, it may benefit you to put down that you regularly campaign for the local socialist party.
Recruiters will have a lot of resumes to read and you have seven seconds to catch their eye.
To make your resume a memorable one, keep things succinct and relevant.
If you have space (remember, resumes should only be one to two pages), including hobbies and interests relevant to the role will definitely add value.
Individuals such as recent graduates, or those making a career change will particularly benefit from including hobbies and interests because those things will help to fill out a sparse resume or one where all the work experience is from another field.
Finally, resist the urge to exaggerate or overdo it. It would be embarrassing if, when questioned in detail about your recent sky-diving experiences during a job interview by a fascinated recruiter, you get found out to have lied.
Equally, don't be so enthusiastic describing your hobby that you neglect to talk enough about your professional skills and experience.
Expressing your personality on your resume will help you get a role that is a good fit and where you can really be yourself, which is vital to being able to do your best work.