When Résumés Include Hobbies

There’s ongoing debate among career advisors and résumé writers about whether to include hobbies on a résumé—and perhaps surprisingly, just as many appear to be for as against.hobby
While recruiters and hiring managers may scoff at a hobbies category on a résumé, and even view it as unprofessional, hobbies can be relevant to the position.

Making the Connection

Sometimes this is obvious, as in when a person applying for a position as a video game designer includes playing video games as a hobby, or a person applying for a job at a planetarium lists astronomy on her résumé.
Other times it may be subtle, but still related. For example, a chef may include organic gardening among his hobbies. Is your restaurant’s menu based on organic ingredients? He could be your ideal candidate.
Another example is a travel writer who lists photography among her hobbies. If you hire her, you may get content and photos.

Upon Closer Review

Still, not every connection is straightforward. So, what are you looking for when it comes to hobbies?
For inexperienced candidates in particular, evidence of teamwork. This might be reflected by playing on an actual team, like a softball team. It might also be demonstrated in other ways. For example, someone who lists acting in community theater as a hobby has presumably learned to work well with others.
Acting in community theater also suggests creativity as well as a level of spontaneity. Hobbies that involve making art likewise suggest creativity.
By contrast, running in marathons suggests discipline and endurance. In other words, you want to draw a connection between the hobby listed and the skills involved. Then, you want to determine if and how those skills translate to the job.

Learning More

In order to do this, however, you need to delve deeper. Where skills used in a workplace environment are provable, in the sense that the person has held a job or jobs and completed tasks that require certain abilities, hobby-related skills can be highly questionable.
For example, a person may list writing as a hobby. This can mean any number of things, from writing in a journal to authoring a blog at a top website. The latter suggests strong communication skills, while the former doesn’t provide much insight. Remember, as with other experience, you are looking for evidence of ability.
Sometimes hobbies or interests may suggest that the person is well rounded. This may be the takeaway after reading an intriguing list of items on a résumé, but it may not be the reality. The interests section may be more of a bucket list.
This is why the word “suggest” is used throughout this article.
Items listed in a hobbies or interests section of a résumé suggest certain skills. As such, they offer a starting point for a conversation. During that conversation, a recruiter or hiring manager can find out what additional skills a candidate may have.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.