Should You List Your Hobbies on a Resume? Yes, With Caution

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To hobby or not to hobby? That's the question of many candidates. On the one hand, including an "interests" section on your resume can add dimension beyond your experience. A mention of marathon running shows your drive. Volunteer makes you seem human and gives the interviewer something to chat about. On the other hand, you run the risk of appearing unprofessional - or worse, an offer by irking someone with your passion.

While horror stories abound, many recruiters and hiring managers vote in favor of including a well-edited selection on a finance resume, but only if your interests are genuine and not too kooky.

"Hobbies are kind of controversial," says Katy Keogh, a principal at Winter Wyman who frequently deletes the "Interests" section from candidates' resumes. "On the positive side, hobbies can be a conversation starter that you can use to bond with the interviewer. But if it's something that isn't considered mainstream my advice is 'When in doubt, leave it out.'" Don't include pastimes with affiliations that are religious, political or anything considered culturally radical, she says.

Be Strategic - Yes, Strategic

Solid advice, though Stacy Ethun, head of recruiting firm Park Avenue Group says there's rare exception to her negative position on including: "I advise my candidates to never put personal things on a resume such as whether or not they're married, children, sports, height, weight, or pictures," she says. "Now, if they're on a sky diving board or assume some leadership role in a personal endeavor, that's different. Leadership skills are important and noteworthy."

On the flip side, says Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio - who served stints at Merrill Lynch as head of recruiting for asset management and COO of campus recruiting - "if you're interviewing for a risk position with an ultra-conservative risk guy and you're a skydiver, he may ask you what you like about risk." That said, you can't please everyone all the time. And when you do, you please no one. Look, the hiring process is a subjective one," points out Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, who's now a career coach with her own firm, SixFigureStart. "The interviewer could be a bozo who is just not going to like you because you look like someone who was mean to him in the first grade."

Something in Common

Keogh will go as far as research a hiring manager's interests and make a point of including a matching diversion on a resume with the hopes of fostering rapport. "One longtime client is a baseball fan, so that's something we would leave on a resume," she says. Or, says Ethun, candidates should do the research themselves, and weave common interests into the interview discussion.

One nearly universal hobby to include is golf. But you'd better be up on your backswing. Says Keogh: "If you're just putting golf on your resume so you can hang with people, you'd better be able to back it up. What if you're invited to play?"

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