Should I List Hobbies in My Resume?

This is a very interesting question someone asked on a website I came across, “Should I list my hobbies in my resume?”. Personally, I will say no and yes.
YES, if the hobbies will in anyway give you an advantage over others for that particular job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an advertising, sales or marketing role, listing making friends as a hobby will be okay; or if it is a travel related job, travelling as a hobby will be great. However, if your hobby isn’t in anyway related to the work or won’t give you an edge, avoid adding it, it could turn out to hurt you.

Below is the question and responses culled from AskManager

Lately, I have been wondering about conventions regarding including hobbies and activities (other than volunteer work) on resumes. For example, in my spare time I take archery lessons and sing in an a cappella group, in addition to various musical commitments that may pop up over the course of the year (i.e., a summer concert band at a local university).

I have received mixed feedback in the past regarding listing activities listed on my resume. One hiring manager told me that I should make it more apparent that I am a musician, as he has found in his experience that musicians tend to have strong work habits and other qualities he finds appealing in a candidate. Likewise, my company likes seeing activities on resumes since we push for a good work/life balance and like to hire creative people with mixed hobbies. Still, others have noted that activities aren’t actually relevant to the position and therefore should not be included.

Is there a general rule about when to include or leave off activities and/or hobbies on one’s resume? Additionally, I am only a year and a half out of college and I’m wondering at what point college activities should come off a resume.

ANSWER
Like listing fraternity or sorority affiliations, this falls under the “different people have different opinions, but you’re not going to be rejected over it” category.

Some hiring managers (like me) don’t have any interest in seeing hobbies or activities listed on a resume, and we think “I don’t care” when we see that you like to sail or knit. Among those of us on this side of the fence, our take is that unless your hobbies are related to the job you’re applying for, they’re irrelevant. But we’re not going to reject you for listing them.

Other hiring managers do like seeing hobbies listed. I can’t agree with them, and I wonder what it says about their competence at hiring, but the are plenty of them out there.

Regardless, no reasonable interviewer is going to reject you for listing hobbies, so it’s really your call.

(Obviously, there are some common sense exceptions to this: Don’t list your leadership role in your local bondage club, and be aware that some hobbies are polarizing — like hunting, for instance.)

As for your question about when college activities should come off your resume: There’s no hard and fast rule, but if they’re still on there eight years after you graduated, it’s too long.

COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE
I asked a similar question on another forum two years ago when I was job-hunting, although my variation was about listing volunteer work. When you’re unemployed, so many people tell you to list volunteer work because it shows that at least you’re not sitting around eating bonbons or something. It can show that you have initiative and responsibility and such.

When I asked on a forum full of executive level types, I got a mixed reaction, but none very good. Nearly everybody said don’t do it. One guy actually said “I don’t want software developers who show initiative, I just want to know if you can program in [x]“. I loved that attitude – he must be a “shut up and do what you’re told” boss. LOL! Anyway, the one guy who said that he would like that on a resume said it was because he’s had employees in the past where he wished he’d known they coached little league because then he wouldn’t have hired them. Apparently that particular employee brought too much of his volunteer work to the office. (I would find that annoying, too.)
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Regarding little league – the person to whom you’re referring is why it can be dangerous listing hobbies – assumptions can be made about availability.
Really good point. Any hobby that might give a hiring manager warm fuzzies about you as a person might just as easily lead them to make assumptions that aren’t favorable, either about your availability or about the type of person you are. One person might hear “musician” and think “persevering, hard-worker with a good sense for details,” but another might think “high-maintenance perfectionistic diva.”

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I would not list hobbies on my resume. In my experience, there are more hiring managers out there who don’t care or don’t like it, versus those that do. However, I have listed a couple of hobbies on my design portfolio site. I think that is an appropriate place for them, because a) some of my photography work depicts these hobbies and 2) my portfolio is more personal than my resume. Like Alison says, I was careful in my selection and just listed them in a single sentence. I would suggest listing them on a website or blog if you have one, and intend to include it on your resume, but if you don’t have an online presence, skip the hobbies.
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Law school career services always tell students to list hobbies on their resume. I think it work as a conversation starter for big firms who are looking for stellar academic credentials but no particular experience or substantive interest. My employer, however, is looking for students with particular substantive interests and experience, so I kind of refuse to ask them about their hobbies on principle when I interview on campus.

However, reviewing resumes, I was struck by how difficult it is to come up with a set of hobbies that doesn’t look either (a) douchey, or (b) boring. And as much as one tries to wipe it from one’s mind, it is difficult not to have stray thoughts like “I wonder if this is one of those people who can’t talk about anything but Crossfit?” or “Vermiculture? Am I supposed to have to look at Wikipedia to parse this person’s resume?” I like to think it doesn’t influence my opinion of anyone, but on a subconscious level, I suppose it’s hard to know. (Of course, conversely, it could go the other way.)
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The argument I’ve heard most in favor of adding hobbies is that it humanizes the candidate and can help you connect with the interviewer.

The problem with that stance, as I see it, is that it’s impossible to connect with a person you know nothing about when you’re just sending in a resume in response to an ad. You have no idea who is going to read it.

And so while there is a random chance that your hobbies critiquing fancy-pants cuisine, skeet shooting, or collecting jelly jars will resonate with someone the odds are at least equally good that someone will make a less charitable judgment. For every “oh, I also like to make pompous pronouncements about fusion entrees” you could have five people concerned that you’ll be the pain in the ass in the lunch room cooking fish in the microwave. (Microwaved fish is gross at work – no matter how complicated and expensive the sauce.)

If you spend your weekends going to hair band concerts and putting pics up on your website I will find you fascinating. I will think you’re so cool that I will want an interview if you have any skills listed I need, because if I have to listen to people drone about what they did all weekend I’ll like your stories the best. I’m thinking for every me out there there might be 100 others who would find that bizarre that you mentioned that on your resume for staff accountant.

It’s just too random to be effective.
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The answer to any question of the form “Should I put X on my resume?” is “Will seeing X on my resume help convince the reader to call me in for an interview?” It should definitely relate to the job for which you’re applying. It’s irrelevant that you play guitar, so don’t put it on your resume. The exception is if you’re applying for a job at Fender or Gibson, even if the job is in the accounting department. It shows affinity to the company or industry.

Some people say “Showing my hobbies shows that I’m a well-rounded person!” but I’ve never put someone in the “call in for an interview” pile because he was well-rounded.

Final gripe: Don’t tell me that your hobbies are “listening to music” or “reading” or “spending time with my family.” Everyone likes music and reading, and the family time isn’t a hobby.
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I don’t list hobbies, but I do have a two-day stint as an organic gardening assistant listed on my resume, which I feel barely qualifies as a job, though it was paid. It turns out it was a good thing I listed it; my interviewer, a restaurant owner, had been wanting to get an organic garden going for his restaurant. He was really excited to see that I had an interest in that as well as some of my environmental club work from college five years ago. I never would have thought these experiences and interests would be relevant for a position as a cook, but he saw that I would be a perfect fit in his vision for the future of his business, and I was hired on the spot. So now my question is, as I move on, should I keep these details on my resume? If hobbies/interests are a huge part of your life but not obviously or immediately relevant to your prospective job, should you omit them?

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About Andy

Andy is the co-Founder of Ngcareers, Nigeria's Top Job Search and Career site. You can follow him on twitter via @andychukse

One Comment

  1. very nice Question. Thanks Andrew Eze for talking about it. and i am agree with the answer too.

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