How To List Interests And Hobbies On A Resume (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Jun. 7, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

When a hiring manager or a recruiter is looking at a resume, they’re usually looking to learn more than just about your technical skill set and employment history. They’re also hoping to learn a bit about that your personality: What you’re passionate about, what motivates you to succeed, and what it is that makes you tick.

One of the best ways for a job seeker to convey this information on a resume is to include a list of interests and hobbies. It can make a difference in a hiring manager’s decision-making process, and it’s also a great way to add some unique, fun flair to your resume which will help your job application to stand out from the crowd.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know about listing your interests and hobbies on a resume.

There’s a lot to learn, so let’s jump right in.

Hobbies vs. Interests

While hobbies and interests are closely intertwined, they’re not exactly the same thing. Interests are passive and don’t automatically entail participation. For example, you could be very interested in Spaghetti Westerns, but you’ve never engaged in an activity related to film-making or critical film theory.

A hobby, on the other hand, requires active participation on your part. It’s something that you do for free, during your free time, to have fun. To use the same example, if you actively write screenplays for your own version of Spaghetti Westerns or produce animated shorts that unpack old movies, you’re engaged in a hobby.

Generally speaking, every hobby is related to a more general interest, while not all interests have associated hobbies.

How to List Interests and Hobbies on Your Resume

When you’re mentioning your personal interests and hobbies in your resume, the first rule is to keep things concise. The hiring manager who’s reviewing your resume does not need a comprehensive explanation of how you originally took up a hobby or how your skills have progressed over time.

It’s sufficient to mention the skill or hobby and then follow it up with a brief sentence that summarizes your experience and skill level (see examples below).

Here’s a step-by-step guide to including interests and hobbies on your resume:

  1. Research the company. Before you can know what hobbies will be valuable to the hiring manager or recruiter, you have to know what the organization values. Check out the company’s “About Us” page, their LinkedIn profile, and any other public communications the company puts out.

    When you understand the culture you’d be stepping into, it’s easier to come up with hobbies and interests that reflect a great cultural fit.

  2. Understand the role. Next, turn to the job description. Pay special attention to the soft skills and personality traits that are listed as essential or preferred within the job requirements section. Then, think of how your hobbies relate to those desired qualities.

  3. Choose hobbies that emphasize your skill set. The hiring manager has already perused your resume’s skills section — now it’s time to really hammer your proficiency home with outside-of-work activities that also leverage your skill set. Use your research from the above two steps to inform which skills are most valuable to focus on.

  4. Title a separate section, at the end of your resume. Call this section “Hobbies and Interests” and place it as the last section of your resume. It is the least important information, and its placement should reflect that. Typically this will come after either your education or skills section.

  5. Make a bulleted list of 2-5 hobbies. Each hobby should be one bullet point and ideally a single line long, so as not to take up too much space. You should list at least two but no more than five hobbies.

Good Interests and Hobbies for a Resume

Here are a few examples of interests and hobbies that will be useful to list on almost any job application:

  • Travel. Travel experience conveys a sense of adventure and an eagerness to explore new places, cultures, and ideas. Plus, the ability to adapt and fit into a new environment proves that you have the power to adjust to your new role as well.

  • Exercise. A job candidate who’s committed to taking care of their physical health through regular exercise can also be depended upon to take care of their professional responsibilities.

  • Writing for a public audience. A love of writing, particularly when it’s shared with others (as in a blog, for example), demonstrates curiosity, a passion for learning new things, and a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone.

  • Yoga. This practice is gaining huge popularity as a means of maintaining a calm, cool, and collected state of mind within a group setting.

  • Art (painting, music, drawing, sculpture, dance, etc.). A passion for artistic pursuits conveys creativity and independence, as well as a willingness to be outgoing and to try new things.

  • Volunteer work. A job applicant who routinely volunteers within their local community can be relied upon to be a strong team player and a compassionate member of the workplace.

Bad Interests and Hobbies for a Resume

In contrast, here are some examples of interests and hobbies that should never be mentioned on a professional resume:

  • Napping

  • Coin collecting

  • Watching cartoons

  • Eating ice cream

  • Scrolling through Instagram

You get the idea. Whereas each of the first five examples demonstrates an applicant’s willingness to improve and learn new things, the latter five examples convey the exact opposite impression.

As some additional general rules, you should avoid mentioning any interests or hobbies that:

  • Involve no interaction or cooperation with other people

  • Could be interpreted as unnecessarily dangerous

  • Are in any way illegal

  • You’re compensated for

  • Communicate sensitive personal information, such as your political affiliations, religious beliefs, or medical history

How to Decide Whether to Include a Hobby or Interest on Your Resume

You should only include interests and hobbies that are directly relevant to your prospective employer. Before you mention an interest or a hobby on your resume, be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this interest or hobby valued within this employer’s workplace culture?

  • Does this interest or hobby match well with the particular job requirements of the position that I’m applying to?

  • Will the hiring manager (i.e, the person who will be reading the resume) be familiar with what I’m talking about?

If the answer to each of those questions is “yes”, then go ahead and add that interest or hobby to your list! If the answer to one or more of them is “no”, then you should consider choosing a different hobby or interest that will be more relevant to the purposes of your job application.

When to Include a List of Interests and Hobbies

This brings us to one more important question: When is it appropriate to include a list of interests and hobbies?

Since no two job openings are exactly the same, it won’t always be necessary (or useful) to include this information. Here are some examples of instances when you should consider adding interests and hobbies to your resume:

  • When you have little background experience in the industry, department, or role that you’re applying to.

  • When you’re just getting started in the job market and you therefore have little to no professional experience at all.

  • When the job description explicitly requests that job applicants include a list of their interests or hobbies in their job applications.

  • When the requirements and responsibilities of a given job description align well with your own personal interests and hobbies.

  • When an employer mentions in a job posting that they’re interested in learning about applicants’ personalities (in addition to their work experience and background).

Where to Mention Interests and Hobbies on a Resume

In order for your list of interests and hobbies to have a maximally positive impact on your job application, it’s important to know exactly where to place them within a resume.

Mentioning them too early in your resume — say, at the top of the page underneath your contact information — will probably result in a hiring manager losing interest and moving on to the next job application.

A hiring manager’s time, after all, is very limited. First and foremost, they need to understand the most important details of your resume (your contact info, work history, educational background, skills, and experience, etc.). Then, if all of that information checks out, they’ll move on to reviewing your personal interests and hobbies.

In other words, the best place to mention your interests and hobbies is typically at the very bottom of your resume. That doesn’t mean that this information is unimportant. On the contrary, it’s the perfect way to wrap up your resume on a high note that will stand out in a hiring manager’s mind.

10 Examples of Interests and Hobbies Listed on a Resume

Okay – now that we have an idea of how (and when) to list your interests and hobbies, let’s now turn our attention to some examples of how they might look on a finished resume.

Here are ten examples that you can use as a guide when listing your personal interests and hobbies on your next job application:

  1. Violin

    10+ years of experience playing violin, with an additional three years of experience playing with a small band of local musicians.

  2. Chess

    Regularly compete in chess competitions at the local and state levels as a means of sharpening my skills as a strategist and problem-solver.

  3. Hiking

    Passionate hiker and mountaineering guide that has led individuals and groups of all ages to the summits of more than two dozen 14,000-plus-foot peaks.

  4. International travel

    Annually plan and organize overseas trips to expand my language skills and my cultural worldview.

  5. Yoga

    Dedicated yoga practitioner with more than five years of experience studying ashtanga vinyasa yoga in a group setting.

  6. Blogging

    Founder and sole contributor of the “Denver Food Hub” blog, which focuses on the city’s up-and-coming culinary culture and which has attracted more than 25,000 subscribers since its initial launch in 2015.

  7. Volunteering

    Regular volunteer at local soup kitchens, food banks, and community shelters, with experience coordinating groups of local volunteers for the annual Thanksgiving 5k outdoor sporting event.

  8. Social rights advocacy

    Committed spokesperson and event organizer with a variety of local non-profit advocacy groups, including the Female Empowerment Movement and the Multiracial Justice Committee.

  9. Stage theater

    Actor with 4 years of experience producing and performing in stage productions at the local Albrington Theatre.

  10. Hockey

    Long-time hockey player (left winger) with a passion for the sport, and three years of experience as a volunteer coach with the local youth girls’ hockey league (ages 6 to 12).

Tips for Including Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume

  • Don’t lie. You shouldn’t lie on any part of your application, but choosing to lie about your hobbies is especially silly. One of the big points of including a section on your hobbies and interests is to establish a connection with the hiring manager. If you’re caught red-handed as a total novice, it could well sink your chances of landing the job.

  • Avoid controversial topics. There’s no reason to include hyper-partisan topics in your resume (unless you happen to be applying to a hyper-partisan organization).

    You can mention participating in social justice advocacy or volunteering at a local church, but we recommend avoiding certain topics (pro-life rallies, missionary work, etc.) that could come across as weird, depending on the reader.

  • Be specific. If you really want to give the hiring manager a glimpse at your life outside of work, it pays to be a bit more specific than simply writing “cooking” as a hobby. Instead, say “Amateur chef working on learning and improving recipes inspired from Southeast Asian cuisine.”

    That is way more likely to turn into an interesting conversation at the interview.

Final Thoughts

Adding a short list of interests and hobbies to the end of your resume is a simple and effective way to stand out from the competition.

When you’re composing your list, remember to limit each bullet point’s explanation to a single sentence, and be sure to only emphasize those details that will be directly relevant to the role, department, and company that you’re applying to.

No matter what industry or field you’re trying to excel in, listing your interests and hobbies in a resume can increase your chances of being invited to a job interview and advancing to the final stages of the hiring process!

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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