Resumes: When Hobbies Count

Hobbies on resumes? You have got to be kidding! I thought that went out in the ’70’s.

They did, when people put their hobbies like this:

Hobbies: Reading, Writing, Bicycling.

Who cares? No one, and that’s why they went out. But here’s a way to make them “in” again. If you list hobbies, make sure they are relevant to your targeted career (your audience) or differentiate you in the right way or are truly a part of your personal brand.

For example, I worked with an IT consultant who wanted to relocate. He was a young person with three years’ experience in IT. In his previous life though, and while working his way through college, our IT consultant had a side job – as a rock climbing instructor. How cool! Here’s a person who takes risks, who is athletic, and has a life outside a dimly lit screen. We added this job to his resume. Result? He sent out two resumes and got two offers. He called me while on the road – in his new company-paid car – and said, “Wendy, all they talked about was my rock climbing! Can you believe it?”

Here’s another. I worked with a nurse (RN) who had experience and wanted out of staff nursing. She wanted to transition into pharmaceutical sales, but she technically had no sales experience. In addition to her many transferable skills (like terminology, physician connections, etc.), we added her “hobby.” She was a competitive marathon runner. And she had placed in the top three for a variety of marathons more than once. She also competed worldwide – and had run a marathon in Prague. Again, GUTS. This hobby demonstrated that she was very competitive, had drive, endurance, and played to win. Good traits in sales.

And my own experience (albeit a while back), I was a newspaper reporter. I covered the HOG (Harley Owner’s Group) rally in Milwaukee. Yep, dressed like a biker and interviewed Harley owners from around the globe. Awesome! My story got nominated for a national award. I put this on my resume when job hunting. Got called by a recruiting firm. They had heard about me before, and now it was time to interview. Guess what? The guy interviewing me owned the Harley parked outside. We talked about the article and Harleys for about an hour. I then met the operations manager and the president and got the offer. Here I had my portfolio with my performance evals and records, and they wanted to talk about Harleys. Later, I asked about that. They said, “Wendy, we already knew all about you. We know that when so-and-so took over the old office, people were still asking about you for two years. We knew about the performance records. That’s why we kept calling. But, we needed to see if you’d be a fit for our team. Well, after you talked with so-and-so about Harleys, we knew you would fit right in.” Old “so and so” was my boss for a while. When he left, I got to be boss – for that department. 🙂

These stories are not just about hobbies, but rather a culture fit within the organization. In the employment biz, we call it “right fit.” Think about this, the average person spends 2080 to 2600 hours per year at work! Wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy being there?

Challenge: What are your hobbies? Are they relevant to your career goal? Would they be a differentiator for you? Do they demonstrate your brand? Your attributes that are hot selling points for the role? If so, take a risk. Add it to your resume.

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