Incorporating Hobbies and Interests in Your Resume

Elizabeth Openshaw
Elizabeth Openshaw

8 min read

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Applying for a new job? You will want to do all that you can to stand out from the crowd. One way to give yourself a competitive edge is to put hobbies and interests on your resume. But how can you get it right, and which interests should you be including?

If you’re not sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. In the following guide, we will be taking a look at the best hobbies and interests to put on a resume. We’ve also got a whole bunch of tips to help you along the way and an example of how to write the section.

Hobbies vs. interests 

Before we delve into the tricky subject of whether to include hobbies and interests in your resume, let’s look at the facts. First up, you need to define each of these things. Luckily, we have you covered. Here’s a quick explanation of both hobbies and interests. 

What are hobbies?

Hobbies – or pastimes – are the activities that you engage in for fun. When the working day is over, how do you relax and get some much-needed “you time?” These may include creative pursuits, group activities, sports, or something niche, such as collecting things. 

What are interests?

Interests, on the other hand, describe things that you find fascinating or enjoyable. Having an interest in a certain subject can be massively helpful in the workplace, especially if you’ve taken the time to research it in-depth over the years. Ahead of including an interest on your resume, you need to consider whether it aligns well with the job at hand. 

Should you include hobbies and interests on a resume? 

You’re thinking of including hobbies and interests in your resume. But is it the right thing to do? Before you get started, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Would someone checking out your resume be impressed by what your hobbies or personal interests are?

  2. Are they relevant in any way to the job posting you’re applying for?

  3. 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 entirely. 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 even Tinder!). 

Your resume is a document specifically designed to tell employers and hiring managers why you’re a perfect match for the job. Later on in this article, we’ll show you when it’s a good idea to list activities, hobbies, and interests on your resume.

Choosing the right hobbies and interests to put on a resume

Figuring out which interests to put on a resume can be tough. You may be tempted to whack anything and everything onto your application. However, that is a mistake. 

Instead, you should only include hobbies or interests that have some level of professional relevance and also help show the employer why you’re a good fit for the job.  

To help you along the way, we will share a quick example. Think of things from the employer’s perspective for a minute here. 

Let’s say you’re a hiring manager looking to hire a Web Developer. You are faced with the two candidate profiles we outline below. Which of the two is a better fit for the position?

Candidate A: Hobbies & Interests – Fishing, Playing Guitar, and Travel

Candidate B: 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.

It’s clear to see that candidate B has the more relevant and effective hobbies and interests. When choosing which interests to put on a resume, they have chosen the ones that best suit the role for which they are applying. This is a good rule of thumb that you can use. 

When you are deciding which to include, think about how they align with the vacancy. By seeing things from the employer’s perspective, you have the best chance of success. 

Examples of hobbies and interests to put on a resume

Are you still scratching your head? You don’t need to be. The hobbies and interests you include on your resume will depend on the role for which you are applying. However, if you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve got you covered. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best hobbies and interests to put on a resume – and why you should bother. 

  1. Blogging or writing articles on a relevant subject or published writings that are relevant to your industry. If you include this hobby on your resume, always include a link to the publications. That way, the hiring manager can check them out. 

  2. If you’re part of an industry-relevant group or association, e.g., a Member of the New York Web Development Conference, include it here. The fact that you are a member of a group shows that you are dedicated to your career path. Of course, you should ensure that the association is relevant to your field of work. 

  3. Do you take part in any activities that show leadership? For example, you may have organized and led a non-profit event aimed at feeding the hungry. Whatever the case, now is the time to include this feat on your resume. The hiring manager will be impressed that you are able to show initiative and support groups of people.

  4. Social, charitable, or community involvement will all impress the hiring manager. Showing that you give back to the wider community speaks volumes about your character and your priorities. For example, you may be involved in mentoring for a Big Brother program or volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

  5. Do you speak any other languages? If so, adding this to your resume may set you apart from the competition. Learning another tongue takes time and dedication – it’s far from easy. The fact that you have gone through that process shows that you are willing to work hard. The language may also come in handy within your position. 

  6. Podcasting is becoming increasingly popular. If you have your own podcast, you need to shout about it, especially if it relates to your industry. You can position yourself as an expert in your field by hosting your own podcast. Needless to say, it takes real time and dedication to record, edit, and publish podcast episodes. 

  7. Presenting skills will always be in high demand. If your hobby or interest sees you standing up in front of a crowd, you should include it on your resume. For example, you might be a singer in a band, host a comedy night, or even deliver talks. This hobby shows the hiring manager that you are not afraid to grab the spotlight. 

  8. 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. Consider how your hobbies and interests align with what the hiring manager requires for this role. 

What not to include on your resume

We’ve covered some of the main hobbies and interests to put on a resume here. However, there are some items that you want to avoid including in your applications. 

As we have already covered, this is not a social media profile – it’s a formal application. With that in mind, here are the things that don’t have a place on your resume. 

  1. Irrelevant hobbies. These could include nuggets such as fishing, traveling, or even playing the piano. Unless the hobby relates to the job for which you are applying, you don’t need to include it. Resume real estate is valuable – don’t waste that space.

  2. Political associations. Don’t make the mistake of presuming that the hiring manager will align with you politically. That may not always be the case. Sharing this interest on your resume can backfire faster than you might imagine. 

  3. Controversial issues. In the same vein, you should avoid including anything that is controversial. For instance, if you are a member of a pro-abortion group or a gun rights advocate, these topics can be inflammatory. 

  4. Dangerous/unusual hobbies. Examples might include base jumping, UFC, or sword-swallowing here. While you may be a daredevil in your spare time, you shouldn’t assume that this will wow the hiring manager. The employer is likely looking for a reliable worker, not someone who will injure themselves at the weekend.

  5. Everyday activities. Before you select something for your resume, consider whether it is actually a hobby. Normal things like socializing with friends, listening to music, watching movies, and cooking are not necessarily hobbies. Spoiler: most everybody out there does these same things, and they are unlikely to impress a hiring manager.

  6. Joke hobbies. So, you think you’re a prankster. Your resume is not the time nor the place to show off your special brand of humor. Including made-up, jokey hobbies is never a good idea. Chances are, the hiring manager won’t get the punchline here.

When to include less relevant hobbies and interests

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule when it comes to writing your resume. In this case, there are actually three. Here are the times when you may want to include less relevant hobbies and interests, such as drama or art, on your resume. 

1. The hobby showcases a unique skill

Let’s say that your hobby – while not relevant to the role – sees you flex a certain skill. For example, acting doesn’t align with a PR role. However, it does show that you are comfortable in front of an audience. That could come in handy when you are pitching to clients or presenting. If there is an overlap of this nature, you may include the hobby. 

2. The interest aligns with the company or industry

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. It pays to do as much research as possible before you do this.

3. 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. Once again, research is the key to your success here. You will need to become a detective and look into the business first. 

How to include hobbies and interests on your resume

Ready to put pen to paper? If so, you need to make sure that your hobbies and interests section hits the mark. Follow our advice on how to get it right from the offset: 

1. Get the header right first 

First up, you need to make sure that it’s obvious what this section is. Don’t leave anything to chance. You can label this section of your resume:

  • “Hobbies & interests”

  • “Activities & Interests”

  • “Areas of Interest”

  • “Further Information”

2. Bullet-point your list 

The hiring manager does not want to read a short history of all the hobbies you’ve ever had. Using a bullet-pointed format helps ensure that this section is skimmable for the reader.

3. Add some minor details

Once you have your list complete, the next step is to add a little color. Include information that brings your hobby to life and shows why it is relevant to the role. Here’s an example: 

  • “Volunteering: 12 years working with Help the Children nonprofit.” 

  • “Acting: member of drama club, performing in bi-annual productions.” 

Bonus: top 5 expert-backed writing tips

Now that you’re well-versed on what hobbies and interests to put on a resume, it’s time to wrap things up. Before we do that, we wanted to leave you with five takeaway tips: 

1. Ensure your hobbies and interests are 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.

2. Keep things short and sweet

The hiring manager doesn’t want to read a whole block of text. Tailor your resume to their needs. Don't go overboard with listing your interests, and aim to keep it to two lines or fewer. 

3. Put them at the end of your resume

Don’t include the section high up on the page. 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

4. Label the section clearly

Make sure you label this section so it is clear for the reader. 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.

5. Keep it 100% professional

Don’t mention any sensitive subjects such as politics or gun rights. Of course, you should also leave out any dangerous activities like bungee jumping or sword swallowing.

The takeaway 

To wrap up, the hobbies and interests section on your resume could boost 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. There is no obligation to include hobbies and interests on your resume. Instead, be sure to focus on making the other sections of your resume effective and relevant.

Ready to take your resume to the next level? Check out ZipJob’s free resume review, where you will receive top-notch advice on how to improve your resume for career-nailing success!

Recommended reading: 

Elizabeth Openshaw

Written by

Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer, Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer

Elizabeth Openshaw is an Elite CV Consultant with over 12 years of experience 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.

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