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Resume Tips: How to make the hobbies and interests section of your resume more effective

The often copied-and-pasted or often-overlooked ‘hobbies and interests’ of your resumé section can serve a few purposes.

It can show that you are well-rounded if you include something physical, mental and social.

Love a sport like golf? Mentioning this can demonstrate to the hiring manager that you would fit well with the current workforce or company culture if they do business on the links or host a company golf tournament.

Most importantly, sharing your hobbies and interests can showcase your capacity for excellence in diverse areas.

Although this section is not always necessary, here are some things you might want to consider if you do include it.

Tailor this section to the job posting

Although you need to be honest, you likely have more hobbies and interests than you will include on your resumé, so use the most suitable ones for each application.  In addition to your education and work experience, your hobbies and interests can demonstrate that you have specific skills that are requested in the job posting.


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You might want to note your involvement in competitive team sports when applying to a leadership or management position, but avoid listing individual sports.

For an engineering or mechanical position, you might omit your interest in sports and instead mention that you enjoy working on your dirt bike or restoring old cars.

Sometimes you have to speculate as to what an employer might value.  For instance, many might overlook video-gaming, but my dentist recently mentioned that he values staff who play video games because their precise hand-eye coordination is transferable to using technology to make crowns.

If you fear appearing phony, add proof

For example, if you’re applying for a job that requires writing skills, and writing happens to be one of your hobbies, you could include a link to your blog, list prizes you have received for writing short stories, poetry, etc., or even just mention a publication with which you are associated.

Consider how certain hobbies or interests could be translated.

Your love of skydiving could make you seem like too much of a risk taker for some companies.  You might not seem compatible with desk or office work if all of your hobbies are outdoor, physical activities.  Reading and writing that are typically done in isolation and perceived as not very compatible with teamwork or customer service.

Remember that you can always be explicit

BCjobs.ca offers some examples of how to translate your hobbies into job skills for a potential employer.  They give these examples:

  • Varsity soccer athlete with proven team working skills and competitive flair
  • Red Cross volunteer with experience using interpersonal skills in high stress medical environments
  • Serious chess player with an analytical mindset

For instance, Joe Grimm, Detroit Free Press recruiter, says, “If the former nail technician says, ‘Working with people’s hands — physically touching them as I worked and talked to them — taught me to quickly establish rapport and get them to trust me,’ I’m listening.”  In this case, it’s important that the applicant translates their hobby into job skills for the employer.

Consider what you’re revealing about yourself

Employers could potentially use this information to discriminate against you.  The organizations with which you are involved could reveal your religion, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political opinions, or other information that is not typically outlined in Canadian resumés or disclosed during the interview process.

Feel free to break the mould

This section doesn’t always need to just include hobbies and interests.  You can re-structure it to include experiences, awards, or even money you saved a company.

Written by

Elizabeth Baisley is currently studying for an Master of Arts in Political Studies at Queen's University, where she works as a teaching assistant. She recently completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights & Human Diversity at Wilfrid Laurier University's Brantford campus. Elizabeth's academic interest in the rights of marginalized populations translates into her volunteer work and extracurricular involvement in the fields of rights advocacy, immigrant settlement, literacy, health, environmental issues, and local democracy. In September 2013, she will begin her PhD in Politics at Princeton University.

2 comments

  1. Jillian Wood
    July 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Awesome article! I sometimes tailor my interests (as honestly as possible) to the industry I’m applying to. So for example, if I’m applying for a job at an employment centre I list in my hobbies that I follow career blogs in the my spare time.

  2. Elizabeth
    August 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Jillian! It sounds like you are already doing this for your resumes.

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