Should you add personal interests to your resume?

A resume is a summary of your career that informs a future employer of your professional suitability. Personal interests and hobbies on a resume fall outside that traditional definition, but as employers become more interested in cultural fit, showcasing your personality in a job search is increasingly important.

However, how to include hobbies and interests on a resume is not straightforward. In this post, we consider:

  • How hobbies and interests are different

  • The benefits of including hobbies and interests on a resume

  • When you should include interests on a resume

  • When you should not include interests on a resume

  • How to include interests on a resume

  • Where to include hobbies and interests on a resume

  • The most common hobbies and interests to put on a resume and why they're relevant

  • Interests you should avoid including on a resume

What's the difference between hobbies and interests?

Though many use the terms “hobbies” and “interests” interchangeably, there are some subtle differences between the two.

  • Hobbies. Hobbies are activities you engage in regularly. They tend to be more hands-on activities that people participate in for enjoyment and relaxation. Hobbies require acquiring new skills and tend to need engagement and a time commitment. Examples of hobbies include engaging in a specific sport, writing, and cooking.

  • Interests. Interests are things - ideas, topics, activities - you're interested in learning more about or engaging in more often. Interests often have a broader focus than hobbies, tend to be more intellectually driven vs. hands-on, and expand your understanding. They also tend to require less of a time commitment, since they can be explored through things like reading or asking questions.  Examples of interests include airplanes, filmmaking, and photography. 

For some, interests eventually become hobbies. You might also note that a hobby for one person might be an interest for another, and vice versa. 

So, on your resume, should you call them hobbies or interests? It depends. If you only have relevant interests, you can call the section “Interests.” The same goes if you only have relevant hobbies - call the section “Hobbies.” However, if you're including both interests and hobbies, refer to the section as “Hobbies and Interests.” 

What are the benefits of adding hobbies and interests on a resume?

There are a handful of benefits to adding hobbies and interests on your resume, with several outlined below. 

  • Offers a chance to build rapport. Interests and hobbies on a resume offer the chance to build a rapport with an interviewer during an interview. They may even feel comfortable about revealing some insights into their personal life. This is the ideal scenario – you want to work out what makes them tick, too.

  • Brings depth to your application. Including your interests and hobbies on a resume brings depth to your application, but only if they're relevant to the role. The best candidates get creative about how they position their hobbies and interests to enhance their career story.

  • Shows you're more than just your work persona. Including a couple of brief one-liners about your hobbies and interests shows that there's more to you than your work persona. As work-life boundaries blur, people want to collaborate with interesting colleagues. 

  • Highlights hard and soft skills. Hobbies and interests require and enhance soft and hard skills that can be highly relevant to open positions.  

  • Fills gaps. Hobbies and interests on a resume can help to fill in work experience and skills gaps you might have for the job you're seeking. 

When should you include hobbies and interests on your resume?

Here are examples of when it might be appropriate to include personal interests on your resume:

  • Entry-level professional. If you're an early-career professional with minimal work experience, including interests is a great way of outlining your motivations and giving the hiring manager a better idea of who they are employing. Two or three lines of personal interests are expected and will add to the application, but you still need to hint at why they are relevant for the role.

  • Experienced professional. The decision to include interests is less clean-cut for a more senior applicant. In most cases, you'll likely have plenty of relevant work experience to include on your resume. Still, most careers contain skills that can be developed outside of the workplace. If you genuinely have a hobby or interest that contributes to your effectiveness at work, there is no rule that says you shouldn't include it.

  • Career changer. If you're changing careers and have limited practical work experience, skills, or education related to the position for which you're applying, adding interests and hobbies could help fill in these gaps. 

  • Interests and hobbies emphasize your abilities. If you happen to have an interest or hobby that indicates you're good at the type of job you're applying for, include them. For example, suppose you're applying for a position that requires a lot of public speaking. In that case, you might include your interest in acting, as it highlights your ability to perform in front of audiences. 

  • It's requested in the job description. As is the case for any request listed in the job posting, if the employer requests for you to include your hobbies and interests, be sure you do!

  • The organization puts a lot of focus on employee qualities and traits. If you notice on a company's website that they tend to highlight their employees' extracurricular activities and personalities frequently, then adding hobbies or interests on a resume could help you to stand out. 

When should you not include interests or hobbies on a resume?

And now, here are the reasons you should not include hobbies and personal interests on a resume:

  • Lack of space. If you're finding that space is tight on your resume, the Hobbies and Interests section is the first that should be cut. Even the section header can take up valuable space. You should always prioritize your work experience if you have more to say. Remember that you may get a chance to mention your interests during an interview.

  • Lack of relevance. To reiterate, only include hobbies or interests that are relevant to the job. As much as you might like someone to know you can walk a tightrope like a champ, unless it adds value and is applicable, don't include it. 

How to include hobbies and interests on your resume

There are several ground rules in terms of adding interests on a resume. Let's discuss the main ones.

Research the requirements of the role

Before you work out whether you're including relevant interests, make sure that you understand the specifics of the role. Making a link with an interest and an obscure requirement of the job is a great way of showing that you know what you're getting yourself into.

Choose interests that match your workplace skills

Once you have a list of skills that your employer desires, be creative in how you match your hobbies with the role. The hiring manager will be reading a lot of resumes, so don't assume that they will automatically make the connection. Be clear about exactly why you're including your interest.

Be honest

You never know when you might run into an interviewer who knows more about your hobby than you do. Resist the temptation to exaggerate the level of your participation, or it might become an embarrassing situation that will torpedo your chances of getting the job. Honesty is the best policy in a job search.

Where to include hobbies and interests on a resume

You can include hobbies and interests on a resume in one of three places:

  • In a separate “Hobbies and Interests” section

  • In your Work Experience section

  • In your Skills or Competencies section

Hobbies and Interests section

If you choose to include hobbies and interests on your resume, the most obvious place to include them is in a stand-alone “Hobbies and Interests” section. In most instances, this should be the very last section you include on your resume. 

Work Experience section

While you might have space for a separate Interests and Hobbies section on a two-page resume, there's also the option of slipping an interest or hobby into bullet points or paragraphs around your work experience. If it fits with the point that you are making, it won't seem out of place.

Include bullets with an intriguing description. Just listing “swimming” or “horticulture” as a personal interest will be ignored. If your interest is relevant to the role, include a brief description that offers more detail to fire the hiring manager's imagination. You don't need to write this in full sentences. Include context and quantify with detail if possible. For example, if you're applying for a team lead or training position, you might include the following:

  • Swimming. Won the state U23 200m backstroke title. Trained 100+ juniors at the local club.

Skills or Competencies section

If you have one or two hobbies or interests that relate to a specific skill required for the job or would add value to the role, you could choose to include it in your Skills or Competencies section. For example, if graphic design is a hobby of yours and you're applying for a marketing or communications role, adding graphic design as a competency or skill could prove valuable in such a role. 

Hobbies and interests to put on a resume - examples

Now, let's get into the details of the interests to put on a resume that may be worth including and why. In this section, we highlight:

  1. Different categories of hobbies or interests

  2. A brief description of why each category can be relevant

  3. The hard and soft skills related to the category that could add value

  4. Specific hobbies and interests examples that you might include on your resume


In the competitive world of work, countless lessons can be transferred from sporting activities. Whether you are playing in a team or dedicated to individual glory, the drive to win and the experience of losing are two sides of the same coin. 

In general, including sports on a resume can speak to the following soft skills:

  • Teamwork

  • Self-discipline

  • Leadership

  • Communication

  • Interpersonal abilities

  • Collaboration

  • Focus

  • Determination

  • Ability to handle stress

Examples of sports hobbies and interests to put on a resume are:

  • Baseball. Everyone has different roles on any sports team. If one person is not doing their job, then the team is weaker. This is collective responsibility at its most basic.

  • Swimming. Swimming requires hours of dedication and preparation. Any endurance sport offers ample time to think about other aspects of your life.

  • Skydiving. Extreme sports indicate a risk-taker who is not afraid to push their limits. Perfect when you're figuring it out as you go along in an innovative industry sector.

  • Yoga. Any interest that involves looking within and clearing your mind of unwanted distractions should be beneficial. Yoga practitioners are often clear-headed decision-makers.

  • Fitness. The ability to maintain a regular fitness regime should never be underestimated. There are times when you won't want to hit the gym but you overcome your lethargy, which is also a valuable approach to work. 

Outdoor pursuits

Venturing outdoors into an uncertain world means that you often need to react to whatever nature throws your way. There's a reason why company away days are often held in outdoor activity centers. Outdoor adventures can teach us a multitude of lessons.

Some soft skills that those who face the great outdoors might have are:

  • Problem solving

  • Critical thinking

  • Working well under stress

  • Adventurous

  • Patience

  • Attention to detail

  • Safety-conscious

  • Risk-conscious 

Examples of outdoor interests to put on a resume include:

  • Fishing. Patience is a key requirement for many roles. When the long-anticipated opportunity arrives, you need to reel it in confidently and with skill. The chance may not come again.

  • Orienteering. Working out and agreeing on a path forward is a common sticking point in many corporate settings. Orienteering teaches communication skills and teamwork.

  • Horticulture. Spending countless weeks preparing the ground for a flower that may only bloom for a short time requires attention to detail and visionary planning.

  • Camping. The ability to put the hustle and bustle of everyday life to one side and lose yourself in the great outdoors is incredibly good for your mental health. It also shows you have the ability to take time away to balance your work and personal life. 


The dedication and creativity that come with learning a musical instrument or training a singing voice can be put to good use in any workplace. The journey is similar when it comes to mastering a new skill at work. Practice makes perfect.

Soft skills relevant to many positions that are often highlighted by musical ability include:

  • Creativity

  • Focus

  • Determination

  • Self-discipline

  • Innovation

  • Courage

Of course, the technical skills of playing an instrument or being able to sing would be highly relevant in sectors like theater and filmmaking, as well. 

Some music-focused hobbies or interests to put on a resume include:

  • Songwriting. Even writing an email requires filling a blank space with something meaningful. Songwriters understand how to make other people feel a certain way.

  • Singing or gigging. Standing in front of a crowd and performing are skills that will be useful at work. You will communicate confidently in any meeting or presentation.

  • Playing an instrument. The process of mastering an instrument never ends. Perfection has no limits. There's always a more difficult piece to play that you can't quite nail.


Every hiring manager wants to hire a selfless employee who will share duties and help others, even when it isn't specified in their job description. Someone with an interest in volunteering will be naturally inclined to make a difference to those around them.

When you showcase volunteer work on your resume, you're often emphasizing the following soft skills, as well:

  • Communication

  • Leadership

  • Charitability

  • Originality

  • Abstract thinking

  • Dedication

  • Community-focus

Examples of volunteer work that candidates might choose to include are:

  • Charity work. The charity that you choose to support will offer an insight into your character. It may also provide a chance to bond with a hiring manager. 

  • Environmental activism. This is bordering on a controversial topic for some people, so include details about your environmental activities with care. If the company you're applying to is environmentally or green-focused, then you'll likely be safe to include it. 

  • Being a mentor. Mentoring outside the workplace is a fantastic source of positive energy. It will teach a multitude of influencing and people management skills.

  • Community work. Selflessly helping others is a trait of a valuable team player – so long as you know your limits. Sometimes, you need to be selfish and focus on your tasks.


Many creative dilemmas are solved outside of the workplace environment. Do you have the ability to think through a problem laterally when you're taking a shower or during your commute? Creative interests help the right side of your brain to see things differently.

Those with a hobby or interest that requires creativity often possess the following soft skills in addition to creativity:

  • Innovation

  • Critical thinking

  • Problem solving

  • Focus

  • Detail-orientation

Some creative interests to put on a resume include:

  • Painting or drawing. While painting is a leisurely pursuit that has little to do with many careers, are we discounting the observational skills of the perceptive artist?

  • Photography. An appreciation for how visuals can convey a message to make the required impact is central to marketing and sales-related roles. A picture is worth a thousand words.

  • Graphic design. As business moves increasingly online (and eventually into the Metaverse), graphic design skills come in handy in many careers. 

  • Blogging. Sharing your thoughts in a blog not only benefits your writing skills. As companies increasingly rely on employee advocacy, you can become a champion for their cause. Written communication skills are also a highly-sought after commodity. 

  • Poetry. Brevity lies at the heart of every successful team. Say what you want to say. Make sure that everyone gets it. Move on. Most workplaces could do with more succinct poets.


No one wants to hire a technophobe who is constantly asking colleagues for advice about how to use the basic functions of Excel. Sharing an interest in technology means that you may be the go-to person to ask when such questions crop up.

When including technology-focused interests, you're not only highlighting hard skills that employers eagerly seek, but soft skills, as well, like:

  • Innovation

  • Focus

  • Detail-orientation

  • Openness to change

  • Logic

These are just a few of the technology-focused hobbies you might include on your resume:

  • Programming. An appreciation of coding and programming languages will soon be required in many non-technical industries. The future is digital. Are you ready?

  • Trading. Dabbling in stocks or crypto requires a level of risk tolerance that is rarely tested in a career. When you're investing your own money, you'll develop critical thinking skills.

  • Artificial intelligence. If you are this interested in the future of work, it's likely that you will have countless other fresh perspectives to bring to the workplace.

Online activity

While not every industry is dependent on an online presence, there are many functions where online activity is central to success. Sales, marketing, PR, human resources, and recruiting require employees with solid social media credentials and hard skills. 

In addition to the technical skills required for online activities, some of the soft skills include:

  • Creativity 

  • Communication 

  • Decisiveness

  • Innovation

Examples of online activity hobbies include:

  • Social media. As social media evolves into a second life for so many of us, people who have developed an online audience can bring countless transferable skills to an employer.

  • E-sports. Split-second decisions in a virtual environment (alongside a team) mirror many jobs. Your job might not be a game, but your brain won't know any different.

  • Vlogging. Building an audience on YouTube or another similar platform requires creativity to work out what to say and the courage to put it out into the world.


Captivating a crowd has been a prized skill for millennia, and it's highly valued in the modern workplace. The ability to keep a screen of Zoom listeners engaged on an hourly basis is a skill that shouldn't be underestimated. Entertaining a crowd is a superpower. 

A few soft skills required for entertainment-related hobbies include:

  • Creativity

  • Confidence 

  • Communication

  • Intuition

  • Ability to improvise

Below are a few entertainment-related hobbies and interests to put on a resume:

  • Acting. While we might try to be true to our authentic selves at work, there are occasions where acting skills are required. The ability to play a part is important to maintain unity.

  • Comedy. If you have the God-given talent to make someone laugh, making friends and influencing others will come that little bit easier. 

  • Dance. Concentration and physical preparation are required to master a dance routine. Sometimes, you only get one chance to make an impression. Dancers can also perform under pressure.

Miscellaneous hobbies

Some hobbies might not fall neatly into a category, though they still offer fascinating insights into your personality and are worth mentioning.

  • Language learning. Choosing to learn a foreign language as a hobby is no small undertaking. You need a stellar memory and an organized mind to piece together the puzzle of language. Plus, many employers value bilingual candidates. 

  • Home improvement. Project management is ubiquitous in the workplace. Ensuring that a home improvement project runs smoothly demands many of the same project management skills.

  • Mindfulness. Slowing down and immersing yourself in mindfulness allows the tumult of worldly thoughts to fall into place. Prepare for success from a mindset of calm emptiness and focus. 

Which interests should you avoid adding?

When considering interests to put on a resume, avoid these types:

  • Illegal ones. Okay, you can laugh, but it's still worth mentioning. An employer might question your judgment if you tell them about your late-night parkour running across the city – avoid anything even remotely illegal. 

  • Religion or politics. As mentioned earlier, even environmental activities can be polarizing. Avoid anything with the potential to cause an argument. 

  • Ones requiring complex explanations. Omit any obscure activities that require a detailed explanation. Keep it simple and make sure that the employer will understand the workplace impact of the hobby.

Including hobbies and interests can add value

Now you know when it's okay to put hobbies and interests on a resume and when it's not. You also have plenty of examples of the types of interests to put on a resume that could help you to stand out and highlight vital soft and hard skills. Given that you likely have many relevant interests to put on your resume that might be worth mentioning, be selective in your choices and creative in how you present them using the guidelines above!

Still wondering if you should include hobbies or interests on your resume? And if you are, are you doing it appropriately? Why not upload your resume for a free review from our resume experts and find out?

This article was originally written by Paul Drury and has been updated by Ronda Suder.

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