Do Personal Interests Belong on a Resume?

Wondering if you should include personal interests on your resume? Here’s what recruiters have to say about which hobbies belong on your resume and the best ways to include them.

9 months ago   •   4 min read

By Rohan Mahtani
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Recently, there’s been a lot of emphasis on “bringing your whole self to work;” and listing personal interests on your resume can feel like an easy, low-stakes way to do that. That said, there’s also a lot of advice out there that says hobbies should never go on a resume, no matter what.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. At best, an interesting or relevant hobby can help you stand out or showcase positive qualities like teamwork, leadership, and dedication. At worst, it could make a hiring manager question your judgment or fit. Keep reading as we discuss:

  • Which job seekers can benefits most from including personal interests on a resume
  • The potential positive and negative outcomes from listing hobbies on a resume
  • How and where to list personal interests on a resume
  • What hobbies look good on a resume (and a few hobbies you should probably keep to yourself)

Should you include personal interests on your resume?

The short answer is: No, personal interests don’t belong on a resume.

The longer answer is: There are a few exceptions. Let’s take a look at some situations when it’s okay to break the rules and list personal interests on your resume.

When to put personal interests on your resume

You should consider including personal interests on your resume if:

  • You don’t have a lot of experience. The newer you are to your role, industry, or the workforce in general, the less relevant content you’ll have to put on a resume. Because of this, students and entry-level candidates can benefit most from including “extra” information like personal interests.
  • Your hobby is directly relevant. Anything related to the job can go on your resume, even if it’s personal and not professional.
  • It demonstrates transferable skills. Hobbies can be a good way of showing that you have soft skills like teamwork, communication, and a strong work ethic.
  • It shows cultural alignment. Hobbies can also be a way of showing that you’re a good fit — just make sure that you have a reliable idea of what the company culture and values actually are.
  • It’s a requirement. If you’re explicitly asked to include your personal interests, obviously do it. This can also work if you have essential skills but little to no professional experience using them — in this case, including hobbies, interests, and personal projects allows you to illustrate what you can do.

Since there are so many exceptions, does that mean there’s never any harm in listing personal interests on your resume? Unfortunately, no. The truth is, there are times when including personal interests can be actively harmful to your chances of landing a job.

If you're unsure about what to include or exclude, such as personal interests, on your resume, upload it to the tool below — it will scan your resume sections and offer suggestions on which ones should be improved or removed altogether.

When not to put personal interests on your resume

Don’t include personal interests on your resume if:

  • You have extensive experience. Actual work experience and professional qualifications are far more relevant than personal interests.
  • They’re not relevant to the job you’re applying for. If it’s just taking up space and doesn’t actually add anything to your candidacy, leave it off.
  • Your interests are controversial. Politics, religion, and other sensitive topics risk being too divisive — unless the organization you’re applying to is explicitly involved in these topics, keep them out of your resume.
  • Your resume is already too long. If adding an extra section for personal interests makes your resume too long or harder to skim, you’re better off without them.

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided that your personal interests are a good fit, here’s how to list them on your resume.

How to include personal interests on your resume

  1. Choose the right interests. A truly resume-worthy hobby will either be directly related to the job you’re applying for or showcase transferable skills — see our list below for some suggestions.
  2. Put them in the right place. This is usually a small section toward the end of your resume but could be higher up (scroll down for tips on how to choose).
  3. Keep it brief. You don’t need to go on about how you’ve been playing basketball for twenty years and went to the state championships in high school. A simple, one-sentence bullet point is plenty.
  4. Be critical. Sure, your painting is important to you, but will it be important to a hiring manager? With most hobbies, it’s okay to leave them on your resume if it’s important to you, but this should never be at the expense of more relevant content or compromise readability. If you find yourself having to remove other things to make room for hobbies or if it’s pushing your resume onto an extra page, leave it off.

Where to put hobbies and interests on a resume

There are two good options for listing personal interests on a resume: In your resume summary or in a dedicated Interests section.

Resume summary

If your hobby is relevant to the job you’re applying for — for example, if you’re applying for a multinational company and speak three languages, or if you want to be a brand ambassador and already have 500k followers, you should feel free to mention it upfront in your resume summary.

Separate resume section

If your hobby isn’t directly relevant but you feel it still belongs on your resume, the best place for it is in a short section toward the bottom of the page. Title it something like “Hobbies and Interests” or “Additional Information” and keep it to no more than a few lines.

Hobbies you should (and shouldn’t) put on a resume

Even if you’re in a situation where it’s okay to put personal interests on your resume, that doesn’t mean every hobby is a good fit. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of some personal interests that look good on a resume — and some that you should never list.

Resume-friendly hobbies and interests

Hobbies and personal interests that are a good fit for a resume include:

Personal interests you should never list on a resume

On the other hand, you should avoid mentioning personal interests like:

  • Dangerous or extreme sports
  • Political activism
  • Religious activities
  • Hunting, shooting, and collecting firearms
  • Gambling
  • Paranormal research or other “quirky” hobbies
  • Anything illegal

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