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Should You Share Your Interests on Your Resume? Yes or No?

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In critiquing thousands of résumés over the past 20 years, I’ve seen several with an “interests” section highlighting the job seeker’s hobbies. One of the most memorable interests I’ve ever seen listed on a resume was “eating peanut butter.”

Yes, you heard that correctly. Someone actually put her love for peanut butter on her resume. No, she was not applying for a job as a taste-tester for Skippy, and no, this was not a smooth move on her part (pun intended!).

Clients will frequently ask me if they should put an interests section on their resume. It is neither right nor wrong to have an interests section, but there are times when it makes sense to include it, and times when it makes sense to leave it off.

When to share your interests on your resume

The following are reasons to include an interests section on your resume:

1. When you don’t have enough work experience to fill a full page

This is typically the case for those early in their career, or those who’ve held the same position for a long time with little change in their work duties.

Your resume should always be one to two pages in full length. If you go over to a second page but it’s only half filled, then I would suggest including an interests section to complete the page.

2. When your interests might be relevant to the job

Though you may need to fill a page to make it complete, this doesn’t mean you list any or all of your interests. Instead, you want to list those most relevant to the job.

For example, if you love golf and the job might include taking clients on golf outings to network and close sales, then I’d include this interest on your resume.

Or, if you enjoy playing basketball and the job requires you to work with youth in an after-school program promoting physical activity, then it would be appropriate to list this.

3. When your interests have taught you relevant skills

It’s also appropriate to include personal interests that have prepared you for the skills needed in the job.

For example, if you enjoy doing improv in your spare time, this skill is often a basis for good sales skills.

Also, a passion for blogging on the side can be a plus for a job requiring strong writing skills and social media experience.

An interest in coaching little league can translate into good leadership skills.

4. When your passion project showcases your skills

If you have a passion project that demonstrates practical application of your skills, then you would include this on your resume.

A passion project is something personal you’ve always had a desire to do or accomplish. For example, it could be a book you’ve always wanted to write, or a podcast you’ve always wanted to produce.

If you’re currently working on a passion project or have completed it, include it on your resume!

When NOT to share your interests on your resume

The times you should avoid sharing your interests include:

  • 1. When you don’t have enough room on your resume because of all the results you’ve listed in your experience section. (Results should always take top priority on the limited space provided on a resume.)
  • 2. When your interests are completely unrelated to the job. This requires you to know your audience!
  • 3. When your interests may initially be viewed as odd. (While liking peanut butter is not unusual, it is strange to include it on a resume!)

Be professional

Whatever you choose to list, always present it in a professional way.

Also, grab the reader’s attention by calling your section something other than “Interests.” You could re-name the section heading to something like, “Work-Related Passions”. This sounds much more dynamic.

Finally, help the readers connect the dots on how your interests benefit the company. Remember, your resume is about them, not you! It’s about what you can do for the company and how it can impact their bottom line.

Résumé help

paNASH has a certified professional resume writer on staff to write your resume for you. Dr. Denisha Bonds can provide you a properly-worded and uniquely-designed résumé to help you succeed in your job search.

She is also certified in LinkedIn optimization and can help you spruce up your LinkedIn profile. Click here to request a quote.

Related resources

Limiting the Jobs You Apply to Is Healthy For Your Job Search

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When looking for a job, it can be tempting to apply for a lot of open positions. After all, shouldn’t you cast your net wide, especially if you’re in a desperate situation? The answer is no, not typically. So what should you do instead? I suggest a better use of your time is to curate and apply only to jobs that make the most sense.

I’ll speak about how to determine which ones make the most sense in a moment. But first, I want to talk about why curation is both an important and necessary step in your job search.

Why you should curate job postings

There are so many jobs listed in various online job boards. You could spend an unhealthy amount of time with the online application process. This is not always time well spent. Especially given how 80% of the workforce found their jobs through networking, not applying to jobs.

This is why I tell my clients they should spend only 20% of their job search answering job ads, and 80% networking. But most job seekers have this reversed.

As a result, you should limit your job applications to a manageable amount, so your time is freed up for more networking efforts.

Also, being selective in the jobs you apply to shows focus. I’ve previously written how applying for a lot of different jobs, especially different roles within the same company, can signal to employers a lack of focus. They often view this as a huge red flag.

How many jobs should you apply to?

Allow me to use some similar language from Justin Whitmel Earley’s book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction. He talks about the importance of curating the media we watch as one way to foster healthy habits. While he’s referring to media consumption, I’m going to refer to job applications.

So then, how many jobs should you apply to? It’s up to you to decide what your limit will be. “The point,” Earley says, “is to determine some kind of limit that forces curation.”

You can’t apply to every job listed in your field, but you should apply to some, perhaps even many. However, you also must curate them, instead of allowing the online job boards that care nothing about your career to curate them for you.

Earley says, “The good life doesn’t come from the ability to choose anything and everything; the good life comes from the ability to choose good things by setting limits.” You can substitute the word “career” for the word “life” in this quote, and it would still ring true.

Unlimited choices lead to “decision fatigue.” But limits, however, provide freedom. In the case of a job search, this could be the freedom to meet new people and grow your network, or discover opportunities not yet advertised.

By limiting and curating certain job ads, you improve your ability to make good career decisions.

What kind of jobs should you apply to?

Earley says, “Curation implies a sense of the good. An art gallery has limited space on the wall, so its curator creates shows to make the best use of that space according to a vision for good art.”

I recommend you develop a vision for good opportunities. The jobs it makes most sense to apply to are the ones meeting at least some of the following criteria:

1. Jobs matching at least 65 to 75% of your “must-have” requirements for a job. This will help you stay realistic without settling.

2. Ones where your skills match at least 65 to 75% of the qualifications. Remember from my previous post, “How to Know If You Should Apply for a Job You’re Not Qualified For,” job ads are written like wish lists. It’s unlikely there’s a candidate who checks every single box.

Where you might lack a particular skill, you make up for it with the ability to learn quickly, or with other assets such as emotional intelligence.

3. Jobs listed on LinkedIn or a company’s web site, instead of those listed on a big job board where the market is saturated and the postings are questionable.

4. Those your networking contacts have referred you to. This is the most effective way to apply for jobs. Therefore, you should spend much of your time building relationships with your contacts.

Conclusion

You may currently be in a situation where you feel like you have to find anything, and fast. But keep this in mind: by not being selective enough to curate a good list of job opportunities, you might find yourself right back in the same situation a year from now. This can turn into an unhealthy cycle. Is this really what you want?

It’s time to take a healthier approach so you can be more successful in your job search, and ultimately, your career.

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Do You Want to Take the Work Out of Networking? Here’s How

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Networking can feel like, well, let’s just say it, work. Just the thought of it can trigger a sense of dread for a lot of people. This is especially true for introverts and job seekers currently unemployed. Because networking can often feel awkward and fake, it therefore feels like work.

But there are some ways to take the “work” out of networking so it doesn’t feel so laborious. Keep reading to find out how.

Taking the “work” out of networking

1. Change your mindset

Instead of thinking about networking as work, start thinking about it instead as “netweaving.” I heard of this term when reading an article by producer and photographer Michael Kushner.

Kushner explains:

“There is a fine line between networking and netweaving. Are you making these connections to advance yourself, or are you creating an environment where everyone can succeed? What establishes the difference is your intention.”

Networking should never be about what you can get from someone. Instead, your intention and approach should always be about making it a win-win for each party. (See my post, “How to Stop Networking for Good Contacts and How to Be One!“)

In addition, your intentions should be genuine. I’ve personally experienced people approaching me with a so-called win-win situation. But in looking closer, they weren’t being genuine.

For example, in one instance, it was obvious the other party was using empty flattery. In another, a contact was using one of her own clients as bait, to lure me into something only benefiting her other client and herself. Therefore, I declined each of these networking proposals.

In the second example, I politely and tactfully called her out on it, because I’d known her long enough to be able to do so. When I did, she admitted it, and showed appreciation for my forthrightness and said she found it refreshing. We were able to be honest and gracious with each other, which strengthened both our reputations within our network.

Not only do I encourage you to be genuine and intentional in your own “netweaving” efforts, but also to be discerning of those who aren’t. You don’t have to say yes to every meeting or proposal. If you do, this is when networking becomes work. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Use your time wisely

Take an inventory of all the different types of networking you’ve done in the past. This can include:

  • attending large networking events
  • conducting one-on-one meetings or informational interviews
  • connecting through LinkedIn
  • attending conferences or industry events
  • joining professional associations
  • volunteering
  • serving on committees
  • etc.

Ask yourself:

  • “Which ones am I more skillful at doing?”
  • “Which ones do I enjoy the most?”
  • And, “Which ones have had the most success?” (with success being defined as all parties benefiting from the connection).

Spend the majority of your efforts on those that meet the above criteria, while occasionally incorporating a couple of the others so you don’t let yourself get too comfortable. As a result, you’ll see more genuine success, and feel less overworked.

More resources:

How Can Career Coaching Help Me if I’m Not Currently Looking For a Job?

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The other day I heard from a previous potential client. We had originally spoken last fall about his desire to look for another job, but then he decided to stay with his current company to try to make it work. Now he’s reaching back out because this approach hasn’t turned out as he’d hoped, and he’s now reconsidering career coaching.

Did you catch that? He wanted to try to make his current career situation better, yet originally declined career coaching. Does this make sense to you? Probably, if you’re like most people who think career coaching is only beneficial when conducting a job search. But it’s not.

In fact, career coaching is helpful for all aspects of your career, such as improving your current work situation so it’s less miserable, getting promoted or changing roles within your company, starting your own business, considering retirement or semi-retirement, and much more.

Trying to do any of this without the help of an expert is a lot to put on yourself. Why go it alone?

How career coaching can work

To illustrate this point, let me tell you about a client of mine. I’ll call her Kate. Kate first came to me because she was unhappy with the department she was in at her current company. She didn’t mesh well with her co-workers in this department, and she wasn’t getting to do the type of work she enjoyed most. But she also wasn’t ready to start a job search yet.

Over the course of Kate’s coaching package, we looked at various options for her. This included exploring whether she should consider a new job search or not. We also explored the feasibility of starting her own business.

But first, I helped Kate brainstorm ways to have conversations with her supervisor about the option of carving out a role more in line with her skills and passions. We worked on this throughout her coaching package.

While doing so, we also focused on how Kate could start her own business doing what she loves, first as a side hustle, then eventually as a full-time gig if nothing panned out or things didn’t improve at her current company.

Kate began taking the steps to start her own side gig, and then COVID hit. As a result, she had to table her business idea.

In this time, the conversations she’d been having with her supervisor, along with taking the initiatives I suggested she should take at her job, led to the ideal role for her in a different department at her current organization.

When I last saw Kate, she was much happier in this new capacity at her current company. She was thriving because she was working within her skill set, and with a new group of people who appreciated those skills.

Are you running from something, or running to something?

Kate still plans to grow her own business idea slowly in the form of a side hustle, in case she ever decides to go full-time with it. But she feels less pressure now to do so. This is because she started with career coaching prior to considering a job search, before she knew exactly what her next step should be.

Kate told me she’s glad she didn’t wait until she was so fed up at her current company that she decided to start a job search. She knew if she had, she’d be running away from something instead of running to something.

Don’t wait to get started with career coaching

Don’t wait until you’re desperately running away from something to talk with a career coach. If you do, you’ll probably find yourself running in all different directions, with no real direction at all.

Let paNASH help you find the direction of your next turn in your career path. Click here to get started and schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

Or, help yourself to some of paNASH’s online video tutorials. These will help you get your footing in your current situation and properly pace yourself for the next step.

Related posts

What Are Some of the Best Networking Hacks for Your Job Search?

Everyone knows networking is the best way to find a job. But many networking efforts have been hampered the past year due to the pandemic. Now, we’re able to cautiously step back into traditional networking methods in some instances, while continuing to use virtual means when necessary. As a result, I wanted to compile some of the best networking hacks and practices, both traditional and virtual, that I’ve previously shared on the paNASH blog. Enjoy!

Best networking hacks

1. Stop overthinking networking

Why You Need to Stop Overthinking Networking

First and foremost, you need to stop psyching yourself out about networking. I see so many clients who come to me overthinking networking, to the point they feel too paralyzed to reach out to anyone.

As soon as you stop putting so much pressure on yourself, you’ll be able to have a purposeful and productive conversation with anyone who could be a potential connection. To learn how to stop overthinking networking, click here.

2. Be realistic about networking

How to Be Realistic About Networking (Re-Post)

In addition to not putting too much pressure on yourself, you also shouldn’t put too much pressure on your contacts. This requires you to be realistic about your expectations of networking.

Click here to find out what this looks like.

3. Know how to handle the question, “What do you do?” when unemployed

How to Answer, “What Do You Do?” When Unemployed

Networking is intimidating enough, but even more so if you’re currently unemployed. Especially when asked, “So, what do you do?”

To learn how to answer this question without feeling like a failure, click here.

4. Understand the etiquette specific to LinkedIn

LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely

To some people, LinkedIn can feel like an easier, more casual way to network. But you must remember it is still a professional setting, even though it’s in the form of a social media platform.

There is a certain etiquette which must be followed on LinkedIn. Click here to learn the rules of LinkedIn when networking remotely.

5. Write emails people will want to respond to

How to Write Networking Emails That Will Get Responses

Email is still a good way to make an initial connection. It gives the recipient the chance to respond when it’s the most convenient time for them.

To ensure you receive not just a response, but the kind of response you want, it’s important to know how to word your subject line and body of the message. To learn how to craft the best networking email, click here.

For more networking tips, check out these resources: