Sunday, November 20, 2016

Resume Advice: Whether to List Interests

Should you list non-work-related interests in your resume?  Does it add flavor and make you stand out, or is it a distraction?

My stance is that you should add it if one of the following is true:
  1. it conveys a positive work trait such as self-discipline, perseverance, teamwork ... OR ...
  2. a job related to this interest would be your dream job
I once interviewed a finance person who listed on his resume that he had won an Olympic medal in track and field.  This immediately made me think that he has patience, and the ability to withstand mental pressure.

When interviewing applicants for my company Evertoon, I'd love to find people who have a passion for moviemaking.  If a job related to moviemaking would be their dream job, that's a great match.  If they enjoy movies but only to the same extent that they enjoy 20 other things, then it doesn't need to be listed.

Sometimes people list interests that many others share, and are passive activites.  e.g. 

Interests: traveling, reading, eating amazing food

 This is not going to make you stand out.  Can you imagine this conversation:
Interviewer A: "What did you think of Elizabeth?"
B: "Which one is she again?"
A: "The one that likes eating amazing food."
B: "Oh, her!"

No, that is not going to happen.  So don't put those interests on your resume.

I also think there's a lower relevance bar for interests that you put on your LinkedIn.  It's fine to list these passive activities there.  Recruiters might be sourcing LinkedIn and use this information to strike up a conversation with you.

The resume demonstrates your ability to be concise.  Don't squander it by writing interests that are cliche.

4 comments:

RJ said...

Very good advice. Given the brief seconds that a resume gets scanned for nowadays, its better to leave out passions and pursuits which don't add value to the application for that specific job position. That being said once I did include a single line at the bottom of my resume that I ran ultramarathons (100 milers & 100Ks mostly) and sometimes enjoyed them. Got me my current gig coz the CxO/hiring manager was an avid ultramarathoner (& a fairly well known one in the Bay Area) so we connected immediately at a personal level before getting down to serious business.

Niniane Wang said...

I think running ultramarathons conveys discipline and patience!

RJ said...

hehe....ironically ultrarunners are probably some of the most undisciplined lot out there especially the middle and back of the pack folks like me. And one must not mistake our ability to space out with patience coz the former is what we are good at otherwise its hard to shut the brain up. And 99.99% ultrarunners I know hate working! We would rather be out on the trails. Which probably means your previous post should not be read by our kind. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Do you list your interest in fat old white men?