Q&A: Avoid Hobbies on My Resume?

chessguy

Q&A:  Avoid hobbies on my resume?
Q:  I read that I should avoid including hobbies on my resume unless I am certain they will help me get the job? How do I determine what is a non-essential hobby? What types of hobbies would actually aid in the job search process?
-Grace

A:  Good question, Grace.
A hobby can be defined as an activity that one does on a regular basis, in their spare time, for their enjoyment.  Generally speaking, these activities are things we practice and become good at, consequently, we develop skills from them.  From putting together puzzles, we develop our logic, hand-eye coordination, memory, and problem solving skills.  From knitting, we develop our hand-eye coordination, pattern recognition, and concentration skills.  From genealogy, we develop our research, logic, communication, computer, and problem solving skills.  From sports, we develop our interpersonal and team work skills, as well as strategy, collaboration, and resilience skills.  The list goes on and on.  (For a list of other skills developed from hobbies, visit: http://good.co/blog/2013/10/23/top-hobbies-boost-employability-skills/)
Because the skills you develop in having a hobby increases your employability, I would say that you should definitely consider them when you are applying for work.  These skills could be a part of what you include in your “Summary of Qualifications” or “Skills” sections.  Any awards that you have received as a result may be fodder for your “Accomplishments” section.  If you have been participating in the hobby for a long time, doing something that qualifies you for the position you are applying for, you may want to list it within the “Experience” or “Volunteer” section of your resume.  This way, your hobbies get a sort of “honorable mention” without getting an actual section of their own to be listed individually.
Because the resume you submit for a given position is an assertion that you are qualified for the job being offered, you want to make sure that the information you include is information that tells a potential employer why you believe you are a good fit for the job.  In order for you to know if you are a good fit, you must carefully read the job ad and research the company. You must understand what type of company you are applying with, what products/services they offer, their culture, and what they need in an employee.  The ad will tell you if they are looking for someone who has analytical skills, for example, and if you have developed these skills playing chess, then that skill is a part of who you are and should be included in your summary.  If the job is for a chess coach, you should certainly state that you have been playing chess for 15 years.   While you may not list chess on your resume, you are certainly free to talk about it in your interview when you explain who you are and why you are a good fit.

Best Wishes!

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