When to Include Personal Interests on a Resume

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The debate over when to include personal information, and what to include, on a resume divides job-search experts more or less into two camps. On the one hand, some argue that a resume only has room for items strictly related to the job you’re applying for, so unless you’re looking for a job at a trip outfitter or an ice-axe manufacturer, your love for mountaineering has no place on it. On the other hand, some experts point out that many hiring managers are looking to build teams of like-minded people, and if your interests mesh well with those of your potential co-workers, they could help you land an interview.

Most responses to the question of when to include personal information on a resume seem to follow one of those two trains of thought, and each approach comes with its own particular wrinkles. If you choose to highlight personal interests that have a strong link to the job you’re applying for, focus on those in which you’ve achieved a high degree of success. Also look for personal interests that display positive character traits, like leadership, commitment, or public speaking. If you decide to focus on hobbies and interests that will make you look like a good team member and an interesting person to work with, make sure to do your research. Evaluate a company’s culture and ensure that it’s in line with a hobby before you list it on your resume. Additionally, look for evidence of a company’s support of your interests, like corporate sponsorship of an event or an organization.

No matter which approach you take, you should also keep a few caveats in mind. Your personal interests should be a short end note to your resume and first in line to be cut if it gets too long. You should never embellish or lie about your interests, because you might be asked about them in the interview. And you should avoid listing generic hobbies like “reading” or “listening to music” or interests that might be controversial.

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