Category: Resume Tips


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

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

How to Revive Your Pandemic-Ruined Résumé

If the pandemic forced you out of your job and left you with a ruined résumé, you may be worried about the growing gap in your employment history.

Hiring managers certainly understand the reason for current résumé gaps. But, you’ll likely be the candidate to land more interviews if you show how you’ve spent your time wisely during the pandemic.

This means your 2021 résumé will look a lot different from your ruined résumé of 2020. You’ll need to include some sections and entries you wouldn’t ordinarily include.

Here are some examples to help you revive your pandemic-ruined résumé.

Salvaging a ruined résumé

Online courses

The pandemic caused my business to slow down a bit, so I’ve had some extra time. As a result, I registered for a nine-month course I’ve had my eye on. While the class usually meets in person, this year’s cohort is meeting virtually through Zoom.

I’m gaining so much from it. And I know in the long-run, it will positively impact my business and the clients I serve.

What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn? Is it something that can build your résumé and help you improve your skills?

Last week, I met with a client who’s interviewing for a new job. She said she’s spent time during the pandemic taking online classes on Udemy to learn some new skills. This is something she’s now including on her résumé to make her more marketable to employers.

There are several online platforms like Udemy which allow you to do the same thing. You can list any online courses you take under your education section of your résumé. Or, if you take enough classes to justify a separate section, then list them there. You can call this section, “Online Education,” or “Online Coursework.”

You can also include the projects or significant assignments from the classes.

Reading

Because of the extra time from slow business and the reading requirements for my class, I probably spent time reading more books in 2020 than I ever did in one year, including my final year of grad school!

Prior to starting my class in August, I finished reading nine books. And I’ve read 15 books since then. Between now and April, I have six more books to read for my class, plus all the ones I keep adding to my personal list.

If you’ve spent time reading, especially any non-fiction related to your career interests, include this on your résumé. You probably want to title the section, “Pandemic Reading List.”

Home projects

A lot of people used their time during the pandemic to tackle some of those home projects they’ve been putting off for years. It was a great time for some do-it-yourself renovations or landscaping.

Include these tasks on your résumé, and show the skills required to accomplish them. You can name this section, “Pandemic Project Completion.”

Homeschooling

If you had to homeschool your children, this is an important thing to include on your résumé! It tells hiring managers so much about you and the skills you developed during the pandemic.

I share the best ways to include this on your résumé in my post, “How to Protect Your Career While Homeschooling.”

Caregiving

The devastating reality of the pandemic is the number of people infected with COVID-19. Even if you didn’t lose your job, maybe you had to take time off of work, either to quarantine or to care for a very ill loved-one. Perhaps it was for longer than you expected, well past the allowed COVID leave or FMLA time.

Caring for a family member is a legitimate gap in a résumé. It’s better to be open and honest about this reason for your gap. This is so the hiring manager won’t think you’re trying to hide something less noble.

You can address it in one short line on your résumé that says, “Employment gap due to family caregiving responsibilities.” Or, you can address it in your cover letter if further explanation is necessary.

Skills gained

From all of the things listed above, and from the experience of living through a pandemic in and of itself, you gained a lot of skills in 2020.

Generally speaking, we’ve all learned to be more flexible, adaptable, and creative. We’ve also learned to budget our money better. And hopefully, we’ve developed more emotional intelligence and improved our E.Q. by being more empathetic and patient.

Personally, I learned a lot of new skills in 2020. I learned how to apply for government aid for my business, and how to apply for PPP loan forgiveness. Also, I learned how to put a valuation on my company. This helped me complete the process of selling a portion of my business to another company. I’m also improving my supervisory skills with the hiring of a certified professional résumé writer this past September. And in July, I learned the ins and outs of refinancing my home.

You’ve also learned additional skills if you did any of the above during the pandemic. What are they? Use them to fill any employment gaps on your résumé.

Organizing your résumé

There are several ways to organize all this information on your résumé. You may want a separate section for projects, homeschooling, etc.

Or, you may want an entire section called, “Pandemic Projects and Skills.”

If you need help organizing or re-writing your résumé, click here to request a quote.

As things start to improve and your career stabilizes, you can take most or all of these items off your résumé.

Here’s wishing you a better 2021!

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Is Your Resume Not Working?

Maybe it’s time to approach résumé writing from a different angle

If you’ve sent out hundreds of résumés and still aren’t getting interviews, maybe it’s time to re-think your resume.

Most job seekers approach résumé writing from the wrong perspective. They think their résumé is about them, when in actuality, it’s not.

To learn some fresh ways to write your résumé so you can grab the reader’s attention and land more interviews, check out the following out-of-the-box strategies. They’ll work well with the unique job search strategies I shared last week.

Stay tuned for more out-of-the-box strategies for networking and interviewing! 

Out-of-the-box résumé writing strategies

1. Show how you can meet the employer’s needs

Your résumé should be more about speaking to the employer’s needs than your own. A lot of people’s professional summary only lists what they want from the job. Instead, job seekers should talk more about what they have to offer the company.

Showing how you can help meet the employer’s needs will grab the reader’s attention. To find out how to do this, check out my post, “How to Write a Résumé: Make It About THEM, Not You.”

How to Write a Resume: Make it About THEM, Not You

2. Know what you need to delete from your résumé

You only have so much space to work with on a résumé. Therefore, it’s just as important to know what to take off your résumé as it is to know what to add to it.

For instance, if there’s something you’ve done in past jobs you know you never want to do again in future jobs, delete that particular duty from your résumé.

For 12 more items you should remove from your résumé, check out this free video, “What NOT to Share On Your Résumé“.

Resume Help

3. Don’t forget to include your side hustle

If you have a side hustle, either in addition to your current job or as your current means of income, include it on your résumé! Doing so will tell employers a lot about you.

For instance, it will show them how you possess many of the skills they’re looking for, like creativity, adaptability, and more.

Click here to learn how to best market your side hustle on your résumé.

Should You Share Your Side Hustle on Your Resume?

4. Protect your résumé from ageism

Unfortunately and sadly, ageism still exists in the workforce. If you’re running into road blocks with your résumé because of your age, click here for tips to keep you from giving away your age on your résumé.

These tips do not encourage you to lie about your age. Instead, they’re about helping you get your foot in the door for an interview, so you can show employers the benefits your skill level would bring them.

How to Gain a Little Protection From Ageism (Part 1)

5. Feel more confident about your résumé

As you apply the tips from the previous suggestions, you’ll feel more confident about your résumé and your skills.

But, there are probably some more things you still don’t know about how to write an attention-grabbing résumé. Click here to find out what they are so your résumé will stand out above the competition and land you more interviews!

Think You Know How to Write a Resume? Think Again!

Want someone to write your résumé for you?

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

Click here to request a quote.

paNASH Adds New Career Coach and More Services

Stay tuned for next week when I share several out-of-the-box networking strategies!

Related resources

How to Stop Looking Desperate on LinkedIn

Most professionals have a LinkedIn profile, but typically say they don’t do anything with it. That is, until they need to start looking for another job.

After their profile has sat dormant for months or even years, they will dust it off, update it, and do one of two things.

Either they will go back to ignoring it after they’ve made their profile updates. Or, they’ll go overboard with their use of LinkedIn, to the point of appearing desperate to recruiters.

Neither strategy is a good one.

I’ve already written several posts on the importance of utilizing LinkedIn to its fullest, instead of taking a “set it and forget it” approach. But today I want to highlight some of the things you should avoid when using LinkedIn so you don’t look desperate to recruiters.

And trust me, recruiters can sense desperation from a mile away!

4 ways to stop looking desperate to recruiters

1. Stop using the word “seeking” in your headline

I know recruiters who say they immediately avoid LinkedIn profiles with the word “seeking” in the headline. Not all recruiters do this, but a lot of them do. They say it indicates desperation on the candidate’s part.

You’re not limited to the default headline listing your current or most recent position. Your headline can be anything you want it to be. So why not make it grab the reader’s attention, in a good way?  And always include keywords relevant to the type of work you want to do next. This brings me to my next point.

2. Stop being too general in your headline

At least once a week, I come across a LinkedIn profile with the headline, “Looking for new opportunities.” That’s it. I want to scream, “Looking for new opportunities in WHAT???”

If you don’t clearly state what you’re targeting, the right recruiters will never see your profile when they do a keyword search on your chosen field or role.

And if by chance you do pop up in their search results, they’ll bypass your profile for the ones clearly and immediately indicating their professional goals and what they have to bring to the table. Recruiters will not spend their time digging through your profile to figure out why you’re on LinkedIn.

Make it easy for readers to know exactly what you’re looking for, and how you can help solve their problem.

3. Stop joining job search groups

Yes, you should always join LinkedIn groups to improve your networking efforts on the platform. And yes, you should be in a few job search groups when between jobs if you find them helpful.

But if the majority of your groups are those just for job seekers, you’ll really appear desperate to recruiters. Plus, when you do this, you’re not putting yourself in front of the right people.

Instead, you need to join the groups relevant to your industry so you can be in front of the industry’s decision-makers. Your participation in these groups is how you get noticed.

Also, if you’re planning to relocate, you’ll want to join some groups based on your targeted geographic location. This not only can be a great networking resource, but also an information source for relocation logistics.

To learn the etiquette of LinkedIn group participation, check out my post, “LinkedIn Etiquette You Need to Know When Networking Remotely.”

4. Stop spamming recruiters

No one likes to be spammed on LinkedIn, recruiters included. Be sure to always personalize any InMail messages you send recruiters.

You don’t want to send the same standard email to every recruiter, for the same reason you don’t want to send the same cover letter for every job application.

How to get help with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is ever-changing and can be confusing and cumbersome to use. paNASH has taught classes, led group sessions, and individually guided clients on how to maneuver and leverage LinkedIn for a successful job search.

Now, paNASH has added a new coach, Dr. Denisha Bonds, who is a nationally certified LinkedIn strategist. She can help you optimize your LinkedIn profile to increase your responses from recruiters.

Click here to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

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paNASH Adds New Career Coach and More Services

Press release – new career coach and more services

New career coach – Dr. Denisha S. Bonds

paNASH LLC is excited to announce the addition of career coach Dr. Denisha S. Bonds. Dr. Bonds combines creativity and expertise to help clients design the careers of their dreams. She sees career development as a strategic two-step process:  identifying compatible career options for the client, and helping the client develop the tools necessary to successfully follow his or her unique path.

Dr. Bonds adds an additional 30 years of experience to paNASH owner Lori Bumgarner’s 20 years of experience, for a combined 50 years of career coaching experience. In fact, Bonds and Bumgarner previously worked together in North Carolina in the field of higher education as college career advisers from 2002 to 2006.

“I’m so excited to have Denisha come on board and to work with her again! Even after I left North Carolina for Nashville, she and I continued to support one another over the years as we each developed our own niches in the career coaching industry. With everything currently happening in the job market, it’s the perfect time for paNASH to add her as a coach and expand our services,” commented Bumgarner.

More career coaching services

Dr. Bonds brings an expertise that enhances and complements paNASH’s career coaching services. In addition to paNASH’s current offerings of…

  • Exploration and discovery of passion and purpose
  • Personal and professional branding
  • Out-of-the-box job search and networking strategies for mid-career professionals
  • Interview coaching and salary negotiation
  • Guidance for career advancement and promotion
  • Freelance and business start-up guidance
  • Online job search courses
  • Support for clients who are new to Nashville

…Dr. Bonds will provide:

  • Professionally-written résumés and cover letters
  • Creative résumé design
  • LinkedIn profile customization and optimization
  • Out-of-the-box job search and networking strategies for recent grads and new professionals
  • Administration and interpretation of select career assessments
  • Support for clients making the transition from college to the real world

“When Lori approached me about joining paNASH, I was thrilled. She has built an impressive coaching business that has had a positive impact on her clients. I am honored to become part of the work she is doing in the career services arena. Working with her again is such a pleasure!” said Bonds.

Dr. Bonds holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education; a Master of Science in Higher Education, Student Affairs, and Career Development; and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She is also a certified professional résumé writer and a nationally certified LinkedIn strategist.

About paNASH

paNASH LLC is a career coaching service that’s been ranked in the Top Ten Best Coaches in Nashville by Expertise.com for four consecutive years. Its mission is to serve, educate, and encourage people, both in Nashville and across the country, by assisting them with the discovery and pursuit of their passions in a way that honors their purpose and their own vision for success, while amplifying who they are personally and advancing them professionally.

Click here to book a complimentary initial consultation with a paNASH career coach.