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Should you list personal interests on your resume?

Updated: 3 days ago

In an effort to stand out and add a personal spin to your resume, you may be tempted to include interests, hobbies, and other tidbits of information that aren't directly related to your career.

You'll often hear that that doing so is a great way of breaking the ice, setting up a conversation starter, or establishing common ground with the recruiter. While these are all valid points, they're far outweighed by several issues that I'm going to detail below.

#1 Space is limited

Your resume is like a piece of prime property. You only have one to two pages to convince the hiring manager that you're the right applicant for the job. Listing interests on your resume isn't going to be a very productive use of that limited space - in my 15 years of experience in the industry, I've never seen interests have any tangible impact on a hiring decision!

 

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#2 They're not all that interesting (sorry!)

When the person on the other end has read through dozens (sometimes hundreds) of applications, they're simply not going to care whether you like reading, cooking, or watching movies. Listing those on your resume is going to show your audience you don't respect their time.

#3 It Hurts Your ATS Score

Your resume is scanned by an applicant tracking system (ATS) as soon as it's submitted through the employer's job portal. The ATS parses the data from your resume, organizes it, and can also rank it by how well it matches the requirements of the job.

From there, recruiters can find you by performing a boolean search of terms they're interested in, much in the same way you perform a Google search. Because of that, listing irrelevant terms only makes it less likely that your resume will be found.

Exceptions

As with any rule, there are always certain exceptions. If you have interests that tie in directly to your career and demonstrate value you can bring to the employer, go ahead and include them - just don't devote too much space as they're ultimately going to be less valuable than professional experience.

For example, if you're interested in landing a job in the non-profit sector and you spend some extra time volunteering for a local charity organization, go ahead and devote a couple lines to that.

 

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About the Author

James Cooper is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and has been in the recruiting, career coaching, and writing business for almost 14 years. He began his career recruiting for AECOM, a Canadian engineering firm, and he's gone on to work with and help professionals land roles at top Fortune 500 companies.

Have questions about resume writing? Reach out at jc@finaldraftresumes.com.

 

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