Why personal interests shouldn't be on your resume

Updated: Aug 27

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

The common arguments for this that I always hear are that maybe you want to break the ice, have a conversation starter, or find some common ground with the recruiter. I'm going to tell you why that's a bad idea and why these things should never be added to your resume.

Valuable and limited space on the page

Your resume is like a piece of prime property. You only have one or two pages to impress the hiring manager and convince them that they should call you for an interview. Adding things like 'working out, reading, and skiing' won't help you accomplish that.

They're not that interesting (sorry!)

You may include your hobbies in an effort to seem interesting. But when you're in the other person's shoes and have to read through hundreds of resumes per day, it gets old fast.

In some instances, depending on who is reading your resume, it may even work against you; the hiring manager may consider that you're wasting their time by including these details and throw your resume in the 'no' pile as a result.

It Hurts Your ATS Score

Your resume is scanned by software prior to reaching any human recruiters. The software parses the data from your resume, organizes it, and ranks it by how well it matches the job requirements.

When you add information that is unrelated to the job at hand, you only work to reduce your overall score, making it less likely that you'll get an interview, and even less that you'll get the job.

Exceptions

As with any rule, there are always certain exceptions. If you have interests that tie in directly to your career and demonstrate that you bring value to the employer, go ahead and include them - just don't devote too much space as they're ultimately 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, devote a little bit of space to that, as it communicates passion and initiative.

Another example is if you're seeking a sales associate role at a video game store and want to mention your hobby playing games.

While these exceptions are just that, exceptions, they still apply in certain situations. A good rule of thumb is if it's relevant to your career, it's safe to include.

 

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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.