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!)
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.
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.
- Blog: Should You Share Your Side Hustle on Your Resume?
- Free video: What NOT to Share on Your Resume
- On-demand video course: Résumés That Get You the Interview