Why Including Hobbies On Your Resume Matters (And What To Put On There)

Image: Spandas Lui/Lifehacker Australia

There are plenty of resume templates floating around online and many of them have a section where you can list out your hobbies and interests. While it's easy to detail your qualifications and work experience, talking about your hobbies could prove more difficult because it's hard to see how your personal interests will help you land a job.

You may be tempted to scrap that section all together. But according to experts (and my own personal experience), it's definitely worth including extracurricular activities on your resume. We go through five different hobbies that can make your resume more attractive to potential employers.

Everybody has different hobbies and whether or not you find the interests of other people interesting is a subjective matter. But your hobbies do say a lot about you and the associated skills you learn from being involved in them can carry over into your professional life.

Let's look at a niche example: Being a guild master on World of Warcraft. You may laugh or scoff at the idea, but Symantec chief operating officer Stephen Gillett actually listed it down on his resume when applying for jobs throughout his career. Here's his reasoning for including it in his resume, according to a report by CNN:

"Gillett said he includes his World of Warcraft achievements on his resume, because it's not just about role-playing games. It shows he exercises leadership in both the physical and virtual realms. Plus, he understands the current societal fascination with earning points and interactive entertainment… As a guild master, his current duties and responsibilities include organising dungeon raids and managing the group's virtual bank. And he has a knack for recruiting key talent. Think mages and warlocks."

As a reformed World of Warcraft player, I completely understand how much work goes into being a guild master and managing a disparate (and often unruly) group of players around the globe is an impressive feat. Not only does it involve management abilities, you need to be good at diplomacy, have effective communication skills, have a knack for recruiting talented players along with other complementary skills. It may not be a 'real' job, but it sure feels like one.

We're not saying that boasting about your gaming achievements will guarantee you a job in every industry, but Gillet is a good example of how to frame your hobbies to give yourself an edge in a particular line of work.

Every organisation is different; it's likely that various hobbies and interests would be more appealing to one company compared to another. The rule of thumb here is to only mention hobbies that are relevant to the job that you're applying for but it should also be something that piques the interest of the potential employer.

That means you should avoid the generic ones that people usually list down, including: Reading, travelling and listening to music; be specific.

Here are five hobbies that are worth including in your resume, some of which are applicable to a broad range of industries. But don't just pretend you're into these hobbies; only list them if you are actively involved in them:

#1 Yoga

Alyssa Gelbard is the founder and president of career consulting firm Résumé Strategists. Speaking with Business Insider, she pointed to Yoga as an ideal hobby to include in a resume as it demonstrates a person's ability to stay calm and in control.

"If you're seeking a role in very busy, high-energy environment, like an advertising or PR agency, it can make you more attractive because you can better handle pressure," Gelbard said.

There's a general association of good mental and physical health when it comes to Yoga, which is another upside for employers who are seeking fitter and healthier employees.

"Active employees tend to be more optimistic and they have fewer missed work days," Fitbit chief revenue officer Woody Scal told Lifehacker Australia last year. "If you can encourage your employees to be more active, less obese and get better sleep, the organisation will work better. Workers will have a more positive attitude and productivity will increase."

#2 Playing An Instrument

"Aside from music-related careers, showing that you play classical guitar or violin can increase your attractiveness to potential employers when seeking roles that require laser focus, dedication, and discipline, like civil engineering," Gelbard said.

#3 Playing A Competitive Sport

There has been quite a bit of research that supports the theory that playing competitive sports can help you with your professional career and help you thrive in corporate environments. Of course, it also demonstrates that you can work effectively in group environments.

Research has also found those who play competitive sports tend to have more leadership skills, self-confidence and self-respect. So if you’re part of a weekly soccer or volleyball team, it's well worth jotting that down on your resume.

#4 Volunteer Work (Only If You Used Your Talents)

We don't just mean volunteer work that involves physical labour. The kinds of volunteer experience you'd want to note down on your resume are the ones that involved using practical career skills.

“Examples would be like managing financials or financial records for a charitable organization, overseeing an event, production or program, or establishing or directing a fundraiser," Maria Hebda told Time. This type of volunteer work can help demonstrate your skills, experience, or expertise, not to mention your generosity and your commitment to community.

#5 Anything Unusual (In A Good Way)

When I applied for Lifehacker Australia, I had already been practicing Brazilian jiujitsu for about two years. Coincidentally, the publisher who interviewed me was an avid fan of Brazilian jiujitsu. It was an interesting point of discussion and I was all too happy to talk about my experiences at training and at competition. The fact that martial arts require skill and dedication worked to my advantage and I finished the interview knowing I had left a good impression.

My hobby also served as a great ice breaker and it made me less nervous about the whole process. This is a perfect example of how unusual activities you participate in can be used to not only help your interviewer make conversation to ease the tension but it also gives you an opportunity to let your personality shine; when people talk about what they're passionate about, they tend to light up and become more comfortable with themselves. It doesn't go unnoticed by the interviewer.

Again, just make sure the hobby you mention isn't too outrageous: try and keep them family friendly. If you wouldn't talk about your obscure hobby in a work context, don't include it in your resume.


Do you list hobbies in your current resume? What are they and have they ever helped you land a job? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments

    Spandas, is that a picture of you kicking ass (and chewing gum?)

      Yeah, that's me. Wasn't chewing gum though :P

    I havent needed to apply for a job for a long time, but as I move from role to role I dont mind mentioning my hobbies with this sort of thing in mind. As an auditor or analyst, I mention playing tournament poker because of how it relies on the analytics of either the odds, or people.

    Makes for a good icebreaker, and its not hard to show how its a practical application of the skills needed for the job.

      That's awesome! Thank you for sharing this! :)

        I've played all around the world, up to the World Series of Poker Main Event (Not quite, but basically the world titles. Went better than most.) and have some quite entertaining stories to tell.

        In casual situations they usually get people laughing for a couple of reasons, mostly because they can relate to them from my perspective.

    I found that you should only mention hobbies relevant to the field of work you are applying for. If you are apply for a job as a IT worker, Telling them you like to play video games and go for bike rides are not relevant at all and more often that not the person interviewing you does not care.

    Last edited 23/11/16 6:36 am

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