Should I List My Hobbies On My Resume?

 Look at those fish! I recommend pairing them with a fine chardonnay. (iStockphoto.com/mel-nik)

Look at those fish! I recommend pairing them with a fine chardonnay. (iStockphoto.com/mel-nik)

You have many talents! You can pull off the triple axel during your weekend figure skating meets. During last month's lunker competition, you used your well-honed fishing strategies to snag an 18-pound bass. And your mixology skills are to die for – just wait until people try your latest invention, the Double Cranberry Tom Collins!

No question, your mother's proud of you. And she should be, Bubbelah! You're amazing!

But would a potential employer be equally impressed to see your hobbies on your resume?

Hobbies and resumes can be a tricky combination. The purpose of a resume is to sell to a hiring manager and recruiter your ability to do a job, and to highlight your ability to stand above the crowd.

So, before including your championship Tiddlywinks credentials on your CV, ask yourself a few questions:

1. Will my hobbies help me highlight my skills and abilities to a potential employer?

I have a friend who was a competed in Scrabble tournaments (if you don't know Scrabble, it's a board game where you use tiles to build words for points; the most points at the end of the game wins) - he was nationally ranked, and he traveled the country to match skills and play the game against the best players. Think about the skills involved in playing Scrabble - it's highly analytical, requires both verbal and mathematical skills, and makes you think on your feet to solve problems, and I'd consider including it on the resume for this reason. Likewise, an engineer who competes in robotics tournaments shows that he or she is inventive, analytical, and driven.

2. Did I attain substantial achievements in my hobby?

It can help an employer's perception of you if you achieved the pinnacle of your pastime. Let's say you were selected for your country's Olympic curling team – even if you chose not to participate due to other life obligations, you can demonstrate that you exercised the discipline to be ranked "world-class" in something. This isn't limited to athletics, either. Perhaps you won a creative writing contest. It can count.

3. Did I hold any nonprofit leadership roles?

Maybe you sit on the board of a local charity. Or you're a Boy Scout Troop Leader helping youths develop themselves. Perhaps you give seminars to unemployed professionals on dressing for success. These all demonstrate a commitment to the community at large, but also show opportunities to hold leadership and management positions.

4. Could my hobby be potentially applicable to my line of work?

I've heard of situations where people have hobbies which weren't officially in a job description but helped a job seeker get a job. Salespeople who indicated they play golf or tennis come to mind - many deals get done on the course or court. Likewise, I know of an individual who listed photography on their resume, and received an offer for an engineering role because they had a VERY niche position available which involved photographic equipment. Or experience as a mixologist (i.e., bartender) might be of help if you're applying for any position in the food, hospitality, or alcohol beverage industry.

5. Would listing your hobby work for you - or against you?

Remember, an employer reading a resume can be judgmental – fairly or unfairly – and including a hobby which a hiring manager or recruiter might find objectionable (or just plain silly) can be a risk. Try to be conscious of potentially controversial hobbies; for example, some individuals might find mentioning bartending objectionable if they're teetotalers. And while it's impressive that you own the largest collection of Pez dispensers, an employer might view it as frivolous and a waste of space on the resume.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.