The Right Way to List Hobbies and Interests on a Resume (+ Examples)

May 20, 2020

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Written by Caitlin Proctor

Career Expert, ZipJob

An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

Many job seekers have trouble figuring out what hobbies and interests to list on a resume. Should you even include hobbies and interests on your resume?

The answer is that it depends on where you are in your career and what your hobbies or interests are. This section could be an excellent way to show the employer you’re a good fit outside of the professional skills and abilities section.

By the end of this article you will know whether or not you should include them on your resume and how to include them effectively.

Should you include hobbies and interests on a resume?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Would someone looking at your resume be impressed by what your hobbies or interests are?
  • Are they relevant in any way to the position you’re applying for?
  • Are your hobbies or interests going to help you succeed if you land this position?

If the answer is no, then you are better leaving this section off.

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 that tells the employer why you’re a good match for the job.

Don’t worry, later in this article we’ll show you when it’s a good idea to list hobbies, interests, and activities on your resume.

Hobbies and interests on a resume

What hobbies and interests should I include?

Include the hobbies or interests that help show the employer why you’re a good fit for the job and have some level of professional relevance. 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?

A) Hobbies & Interests – Fishing, Playing guitar and Travel

B) Activities & Interests – Blogging on web development, solving complex coding issues, and volunteering to help develop and maintain a website for a non-profit group.

You can clearly see what that candidate B has the more relevant and effective hobbies and interests! When deciding on what hobbies and interests you could include on your resume, 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 list of hobbies and interests you can use on your resume.

5 good hobbies and interests to include on your resume:

  1. Blogging on a subject or published writings (whatever industry you’re in–make sure you include a link!).
  2. Part of an industry-relevant group or association (i.e. Member of the New York web development conference).
  3. Activities that show leadership in something (i.e. organized and led a nonprofit event aimed at feeding the hungry).
  4. Social/Charitable (i.e. mentor for Big Brother program, volunteering at the local soup kitchen).
  5. Anything else that could be of relevance to the job. You can use both hard and soft skills to show an employer you’re the right fit for the job. Think about languages you know or skills you could teach to someone else.

4 examples of hobbies and interests NOT to include on your resume:

  1. Irrelevant hobbies (i.e. fishing, traveling, cooking, watching movies, etc.)
  2. Anything regarding political associations
  3. Controversial issues (i.e. member of a pro abortion group, gun rights advocate)
  4. Dangerous/unusual (i.e. base jumping, UFC, sword swallowing)

Three exceptions for hobbies and interests:

1. 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” 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.

2. 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. Tred with caution here, though.

3. Your hobbies prove your culture fit

Some companies value cultural fit very highly. If you find out that this company has an Ultimate Frisbee team and you’re the captain of your hometown’s recreational team, 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 a human touch. Remember to make an effort and lead with something that’s relevant.

Check ATS compatibility

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.” Relax!

If you can’t find anything that would be of relevance, it’s just fine. How you spend your free time isn’t the focus of your resume.

If you feel like you do need to add something, though, we have some suggestions.

  • Look for local organizations or associations in your field 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 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 home. Check out Volunteer Match to find something that matches your skills and interests!
Volunteer Match website

Leveraging the right interests and activities can give you a leg up over the rest of the candidates.

How many hobbies or interests should I list?

Keep this section small and towards the very end of your resume. You can put in two to five of the ones you feel are most relevant. Avoid too many words or overcrowding this section. This should be just a small piece that helps the overall message you’re conveying to the employer: that you’re a good fit for the role and the company.

Top 5 things to keep in mind for including interests and hobbies on a resume:

1. Relevancy

Try to ensure that all or most of your interests and activities are relevant to the job you seek. Simply throwing around random interests won’t do you any good.

2. Length

Don’t go overboard with listing your interests and try to keep it to two lines or fewer.

3. Placement

Place your hobbies and interests towards the end of your resume, as this is most likely the most irrelevant section on your resume.

4. Labeling

You should label this section correctly. Below we gave a few examples of possible alternative titles to “hobbies & interests.” You can also check out this post regarding resume sections and headers for your entire resume.

5. Professionalism

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 fighting. Without a clear

Should I label it “Hobbies and 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 label of this section to be more professional.

You can label this section of your resume:

  • “Activities and Interests”
  • “Areas of Interest”
  • “Other Information”

You can change the labeling a bit depending on what you’re putting in.

Example of how to list activities and interests on a resume:


Hobbies and Interests on resume example

💡ZipTip: view 200+ more professional resume samples for all industries, along with a 2020 guide to writing resumes from our experts.

Video summary

Summary

So to wrap it up, this section could really provide a boost to your resume effectiveness. Keep it relevant and avoid “fluff” on your resume. 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, no worries, focus on making the other sections of your resume effective and relevant!

Good luck with your job search!

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An average of 250 resumes are sent for a single opening. See how Zipjob uses professional writers and technology to get your resume noticed.

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