Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume: A Do or a Don't?

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Posted by The Editors on January 20, 2012
Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume: A Do or a Don't?

What advice do you wish you’d known before graduating college—or even before graduating high school? Thanks to a far-in-advance copy of “No One Ever Told Us That” by John D. Spooner, I’m encountering a lot of wisdom that fits into both of those categories.

Spooner’s an investment advisor, so he’s certainly accustomed to giving advice on stocks and bonds, but he’s also a prolific author on non-financial topics. He writes from the perspective of a grandfather passing down knowledge to his grandkids, but the advice he offers sounds far from old-fashioned. The book doesn’t come out until April, so consider this a sneak preview.

In a chapter titled “Getting Jobs,” Spooner writes about a member of a championship-winning crew team who only brought up her crew experience when prompted during an interview.

“Don’t you know that there are clubs in life?” I said to her. “Secret places in the heart that others around the world will respond to instantly? Why? Because those others were members of those secret clubs as well.” Crew is one of these clubs. So are rugby and lacrosse and sailing and wrestling. So are field hockey and swim team and women’s ice hockey and basketball and school radio stations and Gilbert and Sullivan performances. And amateur rock or heavy metal bands.

Put these things on your resumes, personal things that jump out at the reader. The unexpected passions from the past are what will get you jobs much more readily than academic achievement. Never lie about these hobbies or interests, but trumpet them vigorously. Aside from getting you jobs, they have made your lives inevitably more interesting and will continue to do so.

Our previous recommendations about putting extracurriculars on your resume have stressed leadership, athletics, volunteer work, and other areas, and those all sound like solid bets. When I’ve encountered odd or offbeat talents on resumes, I’ve thought they were interesting and sometimes funny, but superfluous. This turns what I thought I knew on its head. The bits about radio stations and amateur rock bands really jumped out at me; I’ve never included those on my resume, but were they important all along?

Do you have a “hobbies and interests” section on your resume? What kind of questions has it raised? Should I carve out space on mine for those things that have made my life more interesting?

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