Many job seekers have trouble figuring out what hobbies and interests to list on a resume. And should you even include hobbies and interests on your resume in 2023?
The answer is that it depends at what stage in your career you are, and what your hobbies or interests entail. This section on your resume could be an excellent way of showing a prospective employer that you’re a good fit for the company, outside of the professional skills and abilities sections.
By the end of this article you will know whether or not you should include hobbies and interests on your resume, and how to include them effectively so that they add value
Video: What hobbies and interests to put on a resume?
Should you include hobbies and interests on a resume?
Ask yourself these three questions:
Would someone checking out your resume be impressed by what your hobbies or personal interests are?
Are they relevant in any way to the job posting you’re applying for?
Are the hobbies or interests on your resume going to help you succeed if you land this position?
If the answer is no to any of the above, you are better off leaving this section out. Sorry to break it to you, but no recruiter is going to hire you over someone else because you like travel or fishing. This isn’t a Facebook profile (or Tinder!). Your resume is a document specifically designed to tell employers and hiring managers why you’re a perfect match for the job.
But don’t worry… later on in this article we’ll show you when it’s a good idea to list activities, hobbies, and interests on your resume.
What hobbies and interests should I include?
Include any hobbies or interests that have some level of professional relevance, and also help show the employer or hiring manager why you’re a good fit for the job.
For example, let’s say you’re a hiring manager looking to hire a Web Developer. Which candidate comes off as a better pick for the position?
Hobbies & Interests – Fishing, Playing Guitar and Travel
Activities & Interests – Blogging on web development, solving complex coding issues, and carrying out volunteer work by helping to develop and maintain a website for a non-profit group.
You can clearly see that Candidate B has the more relevant and effective hobbies and interests on their resume. When deciding on what hobbies and interests you could include on your resume, always look at it from an employer’s perspective.
So, what are some good hobbies and interests to include on a resume? We’ve put together a handy list of hobbies and interests to put on your resume.
5 good hobbies and interests to include on your resume:
Blogging on a relevant subject or published writings of whatever industry you’re in (make sure to include a link!).
If you’re part of an industry-relevant group or association i.e. Member of the New York Web Development Conference.
Activities that show leadership in some form or another (i.e. organized and led a non-profit event aimed at feeding the hungry).
Social/Charitable/Community Involvement (i.e. mentoring for a Big Brother program, volunteering at the local soup kitchen).
Anything else that could be of relevance to the job in question. You can use both hard and soft skills to show an employer you’re the right fit. Think about languages you know or skills you could teach to someone else.
5 examples of hobbies and interests NOT to include on your resume:
Irrelevant hobbies (i.e. fishing, traveling, playing the piano)
Anything regarding political associations
Controversial issues (i.e. member of a pro-abortion group, gun rights advocate)
Dangerous/unusual (i.e. base jumping, UFC, sword swallowing)
Not actual hobbies but normal, everyday activities (i.e. socializing with friends and family, listening to music, cooking, watching movies)
Three exceptions to the rule when listing less relevant hobbies and interests on your resume:
Your hobbies section is too short
If you have a couple of relevant interests or hobbies, you might want to add some less-relevant information. Listing just one or two hobbies tends to look visually unbalanced, so add in your zest for cooking or passion for pottery. Continue to shy away from dangerous or controversial pastimes though.
Your interests align with the company you’re applying to
If the company is affiliated with anything religious or political, showing your similar affiliations might be a good idea. Tread with caution though, and make sure you definitely know this is the case before adding it in.
Your hobbies prove your work culture fit
Some companies value cultural fit very highly. If you find out that the company you’re applying to has an Ultimate Frisbee team and you’re the captain of your hometown’s recreational team, certainly go ahead and list it!
It’s okay to list out a few interests outside of your work life, as it shows some personality and adds that human touch. Remember to make the effort and lead with something that’s relevant though.
How many hobbies or interests should I list?
Keep this section tight and short, and towards the very end of your resume. You can put in two to five of the ones you feel are the most relevant. Avoid too many words or overcrowding the section. It should just be a small piece that boosts the overall message you’re conveying to the employer: that you’re a good fit for the role and the organization.
However, if you’re running out of room, it should be the first section to remove in order to keep in more relevant key skills and qualities from your work summary.
What if I have no hobbies or interests that are relevant?
Okay, you may be reading this and thinking, “I can’t think of any professionally relevant hobbies or interests that would fit in with my resume.” Don’t worry! If you can’t find anything that would be of relevance, that’s just fine. How you spend your free time isn’t the focus of your resume.
But if you do feel like you need to add something, we have some suggestions.
Look for local organizations or associations in your field that you can join
You can set up a website and blog on any topic in your industry
Volunteer your time, in person or online, to nonprofits with missions that you care about. Many nonprofits need help with web development, social media, editing, or writing blog content, or contacting volunteers–all things you can do from the comfort of your own living room. Check out Volunteer Match to find something that matches your skills and interests.
Leveraging the right interests and activities can certainly give you a leg up over the rest of the candidates.
Should I label it “Hobbies & Interests”?
Here is where you may want to change it up. When you think of hobbies, you think of crafts, fishing, sports, music, etc. You may want to change the heading of this section to come across as more professional.
You can label this section of your resume:
“Activities & Interests”
“Areas of Interest”
You can customize the labeling depending on what you’re putting in.
Is there a difference between hobbies and interests?
These two words are often used interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same.
Hobbies are activities that you pursue in your spare time for relaxation or pleasure. Examples include playing tennis, cold water swimming, or going to the theater.
In this way, your hobbies can showcase further soft skills. If you’re captain of the local baseball team, a hiring manager will be able to gauge from this that you’re organized and a great team player.
Interests, on the other hand, are subjects, ideas, or topics that you are drawn to and are more compelled to learn about. This might be blogging, learning a language, or taking up a musical instrument.
Say, the job you’re applying for involves in-depth written communication, and you’re an avid and consistent blogger with a following, this is only going to go in your favor as you’ll be viewed as a more relevant candidate because of this.
When to include hobbies and interests on your resume
If you’re a school or college leaver seeking your first job
A student keen to find an internship
Those applicants that have some space at the end of their resume
If you’ve had some disruption to your career journey, for whatever reason, or you dropped out of college
When not to include hobbies and interests on your resume
If you’re a senior or middle management professional
A candidate with many years of experience
If, by adding in this section, it takes your resume over the optimum length of two pages
Example of how to list activities and interests on a resume:
Extracurricular Activities and Other Information
A day of Discovery in New York City - 1 of 8 selected to visit Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, T.D.
BP Canada Trading Competition - Utilized combination of trading strategies in simulated environments
Languages - English (fluent), conversational in Punjabi and Hindi
Volunteering - Campaign volunteer for Meals on Wheels
Interests - Day trading simulations, blogging on financial topics, scuba diving, fitness
View 200+ more professional resume samples for all industries, along with a guide to writing resumes from our career experts.
The top 5 things to keep in mind when including interests and hobbies on a resume:
Keep it relevant
Try to ensure that all or most of your interests and activities are relevant to the job you are applying for. Simply chucking random interests onto your resume won’t do you any good.
Keep it short
Don't go overboard with listing your interests, and aim to keep it to two lines or fewer.
Place it towards the end
Put your hobbies and interests at the end of your resume, as this is most likely to be the most irrelevant section of your resume.
Keep it clear
You should label this section correctly. We have given you a few examples of possible alternative titles to “Hobbies & Interests.” You can also check out this post regarding resume sections and headers which covers your entire resume.
Keep it professional
Don’t mention any sensitive subjects such as politics or gun rights. You should also keep off any dangerous activities like bungee jumping or sword swallowing.
To wrap up, the hobbies and interests section on your resume could really provide a boost to its effectiveness. Keep it relevant and avoid any “fluff”. If you have trouble coming up with supporting interests or activities, follow the advice above and you should be able to come up with a few.
If you’re still unable to find anything that’s relevant, that’s not a problem either. There is no obligation to include hobbies and interests on your resume. Instead, focus on making the other sections of your resume effective and relevant.
Good luck with your job search.
Keen to add hobbies and interests to your resume, but still not quite sure how to do it? Check out ZipJob’s free resume review where you will receive top notch advice on how to improve your resume for career nailing success!
Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer, Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer
Elizabeth Openshaw is an Elite CV Consultant of 11 years based in Brighton, UK, with an English degree and an addiction to Wordle! She is a former Journalist of 17 years with the claim to fame that she interviewed three times Grand Slam winner and former World No.1 tennis player, Andy Murray, when he was just 14 years old. You can connect with her at Elizabeth Openshaw | LinkedIn.