Recruiter Question #6: Outside interests

Recruiters...what kind of outside interests do you want to see on a resume? How do you feel about hobbies, religious affiliations, fraternities/sororities, travel,  clubs, etc?

What's the most unusual non-work-related thing you have seen listed on a resume?

Comments (22)

  1. Heather’s getting into recruiters’ heads to help jobseekers. You’ll want to look at their answers to her questions. What is the first thing you look at on a candidate’s resume? What are common red flags on a resume? What will…

  2. I would prefer that they be left off.  Not sure that there is much good that can come from putting those kinds of things on a resume.  My preference is that those items be used in personal interaction to help form a bond with the hiring authority.  During a face to face meeting there should be clues that let you know, for instance, if the person that you are talking to is a skydiver or thinks people who do that are nuts.  My advice would be to keep that resume to a representation of your professional career history and accomplishments.


  3. eR0CK says:

    Well, we all know I’m NOT a recruiter at this point, but I’ll share my $.02  anyway!

    I’ve always found recruiters/interviewers like to see candidates taking initiative outside of the work place.

    I’ve been asked :

    – "What’s the last book you’ve read"

    – "What’s your favorite website and why"

    – "What magazines do you enjoy reading"

    – "What do you do during your free time"

    I think the interviewer wants to hear you’re active and continue to educate yourself on a weekly basis.  I go to the gym five days a week and I can tell most interviewers are impressed by this.  Perhaps it shows a high level of motivation, personal strength, and a desire for results?  Either way, they seem to like that fact.


  4. Wine-Oh says:

    I usually put my internships/hobbies if theres room. It gives possible common ground with who is interviewing you and adds another dynamic.

  5. Jen says:

    I would advise leaving personal info and hobbies off the resume and talking about them in the interview only if asked.

    I have to say, whenever I see “golf” listed as an interest or hobby I wonder how many sunny afternoons are going to be spent away from the office.  It doesn’t influence the hiring decision but it crosses my mind.  

    I’ve seen some strong religious proclamations as email signatures that I would prefer never to have seen.  It needs to be kept professional.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’m going to agree with Jen on this one. The only times I really want to see interests on a resume is if they tell me something about the candidate that can apply to their work style. For example, of someone participated in a Triathalon, that says a lot about their dicipline and drive. I’ll tell you some things I don’t want to see on a resume:

    Fraternity/Sorority – yeah, I like beer too. Many people are "anti" Greek. It’s not worth alienating them.

    Religious affiliations – again, people have strong feelings about religion. I am personally very uncomfortable with proselytizing at work. Everyone should be free to practice (or not) anything they want, but since it’s such an emotional subject for people, I like it not to be an issue at work…and not on the resume.

    Political stuff – see religion above. Unless working on a campaign was your job, I don’t think you should put it on your resume. It can alienate folks with different viewpoints.

    Stuff you do sitting on your couch – knitting, video games, Sudoku. We assume people do something outside of work; they have interests. It’s not relevant to work so leave it off.

    Quotes – I have to admit that I find "inspriational" quotes corny. I still don’t get why people want to put these on a resume.

    Anything that a company can be sued for if they use it as a selection criteria – companies will generally be uncomfortable seeing information that they shouldn’t know about you. Your ethnicity, sexual orientation, age. It’s none of our beeswax so leave it off. If you have kids, that’s great but that is also something I don’t need to know about (if you want to come and tell me about your family after you have been hired, feel free but when it comes to the selection process, I don’t need to know that).

    I think that the thing that people get confused about with resumes is the purpose of the document. It’s not intended to be a picture of the "whole you", just the work aspect of your life. I do worry about the inclusion of a lot of non-relevant info on the resume as it makes me wonder how much of a person’s personal life they are likely to bring into the office if we hire them. Of course, there will be some of that because we are people, not robots. But if I can leave my hideous shopping habit off my resume, other people can leave off their personal stuff too.

  7. Wine-Oh says:

    Since Heather works for Microsoft, I thought it would be fitting to share a story of a question I was asked in an interview back in the .com days (it wasnt a microsoft interview).

    "If you were a MS Office product, which one would best describe you and your work style?"

    Thought it was a great question. I think I answered that I was a little bit of everything. MS Word to collect my thoughts, MS Excel to back up my thoughts, MS Powerpoint to express and present my thoughts/ ideas.

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmm, I think my answer is oak or maple. It’s hard to decide : )

  9. Bad_Brad says:

    I don’t mind seeing one line at the bottom of the resume containing a few personal interests.  I happen to believe that work/life balance is critical, and if a person can’t strike that when they work for you, you will probably not have them long, at least not as a happy and productive employee.  The personal interests tend to humanize the person a bit, and show me that the person is not just all work, all the time.

    It can also give me clues as to whether or not a person is going to be inclined to relocate for my job or not.  For example, if a guy’s resume says he is a "passionate surfer", I am probably not going to be able to get him to relocate to Kansas.  On the other hand, if my position is in Santa Monica, then that might be a good selling point.

    This can also give me clues as to how to sell a candidate on relocation.  For example, if a candidate is into sports, if I’m recruiting for Microsoft, I would talk about the Seahawks, Sonics (well, maybe not the Sonics), Mariners, U of W, etc.

  10. danhub says:

    I am not a recruiter. And I work at Microsoft, so take my comments with that in mind.

    I have a section on my resume for "Other Achievements". On it I include releavant things like:

    * Past Interships or non-work sponsored high-profile events

    * The fact that I am a licenced HAM operatior (Callsign KE6TPA)

    * The fact that I hold an Elected office (City Councilman)

    * The fact that I am a published Photographer

    * and a few other things of that nature.

    While none of these are specificly related to any job I have interviewed for, they do represent my outside of work interests, but in a way that shows I am accomplished in may ways. It is actually amazing how many times I have been asked during interviews to expand on one of these items.

    Done correctly I think it is a good addition. Just saying that you like golf (or in my case just saying I like photography)doesn’t work.


  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Bad_Brad, that is a whole new perspective and makes so much sense. Hopefully that passionate surfer includes the fact that they are happy to swotch to snowboarding : ) Great comments.

    danhub-those are great examples of things that say something about you that applies to work. Ihave to admit that I don’t understand HAM radio…maybe you could come back and educate us (or at least me) on what that is. My parents bought a CB radio one year for a cross country trip we made and that’s about all I know about that kind of thing.

  12. Vicki says:

    I think that my volunteer work is important to add to my resume – but only when it is pertinent/relevant and has value to the job that I am applying for – but hobbies? Hmmm… I’m not a recruiter, I’ve only played one on TV….!

    But that is a whole ‘nother resume! 😉

  13. Max Battcher says:

    Heather:  "Fraternity/Sorority – yeah, I like beer too. Many people are "anti" Greek. It’s not worth alienating them."

    I am a not a recruiter, but I would hate to think that sort of attitude is prevalent.  There’s much more to a "Greek" organization than just "beer".  First of all, there are many honors societies and academic societies that may appear at first glance to be a Greek organization.    Even if a Greek organization is of the socializing "beer" kind there are certainly a lot of skills and involvement required in being a member of a Fraternity/Sorority.  Depending on the College there may be few other groups with as much oppurtunity for personal advancement or the opportunity to take leadership roles against as large of a potentially complex and/or diverse group mix.

    Certainly not everyone that lists a Fraternity or Sorority might have gotten much out of it, but that’s true of involvement in any organization of any type.  Just like anything else on the resume, I would certainly hope that it might be something for a recruiter to challenge and maybe the recruiter might learn something in the process.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:


    Max- you’re a college student, right? Good guess? : ) Academic organizations are not what I was refering to.  I think the college activities like social fraternities and sororities may be relevant if you are going for your first position out of school, but after that, it’s not something that is important. Sorry, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. It’s my opoinion so just take it as that. People have perceptions about fraternities and sororities and you have to deal with their perceptions whether or not they match your own personal opinion. I was in a sorority, I was the treasurer and nobody cares. I was NEVER asked about it in an interview….never! I can’t make it more than what it was. Sure it was a good experience but it was mostly social and pales in comparison to what I learned my first year out. I do not want to see it on the resume of an experienced candidate. If you are a new grad, use your own judgement (maybe include the leadership and philanthropic stuff). I’m not telling you not to join a social Greek organization or not to be a leader (hey, I had a great time in college), I’m just saying that I personally prefer not to see it on a resume of an experienced candidate. Honors, non-profit work, internships…all great stuff (though I still think that if you add too much extra stuff to the education section of an experienced candidate, it distracts away from the work piece).  An experienced candidate should never give the impression that they peaked in college.

  15. Andrew says:

    I’m not a recruiter but it would seem reasonable to include hobbies that are of direct relevance to your job of interest. I’m a software engineer and the most productive engineers that I currently work with all have a rich set of computer-related hobbies outside of work. Seeing this on a resume would be a definitive plus for me.

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Andrew-that is something that I definitely agree with!

  17. Margo says:

    I listed my involvement in a local Subaru club and was asked to compare the WRX STi and the Mitsubishi Evo.  At first I was stunned that I would be asked to compare two cars, but I figured out why – if I list something on my resume, I have to be prepared to back it up.

    So I gave my comparison (the WRX handles way better than the EVO in an autocross situation, platform is easier to upgrade, etc. etc.) and the interviewer felt I knew what I was talking about and thereby was credible in terms of the rest of my resume.

  18. Tim says:

    Still not a fan of the personal interests part of a resume. Weirdest thing I’ve seen listed: Member, John Birch Society.

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    Margo-that is a great point. You better know your stuff regarding any subject you list as a hobby. I imagine some people pad that part of their resume to make themselves appear more interesting or personally accomplished. Especially if is something the interviewer knows a lot about, you better know it too.

    I’m afraid my "hobbies" would look weird: college football (watching not playing), shopping, home decorating, dehydrating apples, torturing myself at the gym, obsessive organizing.

    Gee, even I don’t want to hire me.

    Tim- maybe he thought he (she?) was sending his resume to the John Birch Society ; )

  20. richard says:

    I’ve heard you should keep your resume as concise as possible.  You can list sports, excercising, reading, stamp collecting, volunteer work, club memberships, even certain licenses and honors should be mentioned.  I have created instant rapport with the employer and landed several jobs because of the hobbie and outside interest section.

  21. Aabs says:

    ok so I need some advise here. I am applying for jobs and I do struggle with hobbies as i have really weird ones. So would it be a better idea to leave it blank? is that what is probably the right thing to do? Thank you

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    Richard – I’d try to keep it within reasonable limits. A couple of lines. The resume should still be primarily about the work.

    Aabs – Sure, leave it blank if you think others would find them weird. You arne’t required to include any of them.

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