All professionals have hobbies and interests outside of their work life, but it’s often better to leave these details off your resume. Hiring managers care about two things during the initial phase of the application process. First, they need to determine if you’re qualified for the position. In addition, they want to know whether you have the experience needed to create value for their organization. Hobbies and personal interests likely won’t be helpful in showing organizations why you’re the right candidate, and in most cases should be omitted from your resume. In this guide, we’ll evaluate some alternatives to hobbies and interests that can enhance the impact of your document.

Include Volunteer Experience Instead of Hobbies

Instead of highlighting your interest in cinema, professional sports, or travel, consider creating a volunteer experience section on your resume. This is especially important if you’re pursuing a career in social work or the nonprofit sector, but volunteerism can sometimes be impactful regardless of your industry. Emphasizing examples of public service can provide insights into who you are as a person and as a professional that may even differentiate you from other applicants during the hiring process. You never want to prioritize this over relevant work experience or certifications, but if your document has room for volunteer experience, this can be a nice touch.

Feature Relevant Independent Projects

Including relevant independent projects is another alternative that can help to improve the quality of your resume, especially if you lack hands-on industry experience. For example, if you’ve graduated from college and are currently pursuing entry-level software developer positions, you may want to highlight some independent projects you’ve worked on to showcase your knowledge of Python, JavaScript, or other programming languages. If you’re pursuing a role in copywriting, you may want to mention blogs you worked on to demonstrate your content development and writing skills. The key is to ensure that the projects add value to your document by highlighting skill sets that are relevant to your target industry.

Highlight Professional Associations and Conferences

Including your memberships with professional associations and highlighting conferences you attended offers another approach for showcasing your industry knowledge in a professional manner. Hiring managers value job seekers that are passionate about the space they’re in and have a strong desire to grow professionally. By joining relevant associations and attending industry conferences, you’ll send a strong message to potential employers that you’re a unique candidate who has a genuine interest in contributing to thought leadership within their field.

Include Publications on Your Resume

If your work has been published in an academic journal, newspaper, or on a website, you may want to feature a publication section on your resume. Like independent projects, these can be used as examples that speak to your written communication skills and industry expertise. It is a good idea to format your publications correctly using Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Psychological Association (APA) standards, as listing incorrect citations will ultimately detract from the professionalism of your achievements.

Adding Interests to Your LinkedIn Page

Previously, LinkedIn had a section dedicated to listing your personal hobbies and activities, but this feature was removed from the site. This is another indicator that including hobbies has largely fallen out of favor amongst the community. Instead, job seekers can now add influencers, schools, groups, and associations that reflect their professional interests.

To do this, simply use the search bar at the top of your profile to find topics, people, or groups that match your interests and hit follow to add them to the section.

When to Include Hobbies and Interests

Although hobbies and interests are generally better left off your document, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for resume building that covers every possible situation. If you’re applying for a position as a fantasy football blog writer, you’d probably want to mention that you’re a National Football League (NFL) and fantasy football enthusiast. Those applying for an internship at a podcast may want to mention their own attempts at creating one. If you’re a professional musician, you might talk about your influences and interest in particular musical genres. When pursuing a position in a rare niche, take the time to evaluate what you’re applying for and determine whether your hobbies and interests add genuine value to your resume.

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