Adding Interests to Your Resume

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I love the discussions raised by other members of the LinkedIn Resume Writer’s groups I participate in. As we share with each other, it helps us stay current with resume writing trends.

A recent discussion asks the following question: “Should I include my client’s interests on his/her resume?”

The consensus is that including your extracurricular interests can be beneficial, yet you must be careful. The key is context primarily and space secondarily.

To determine whether adding ‘Extracurricular Activities’ or ‘Extracurricular Interests’ will benefit my client I ask the following filtering questions.

Will my interests add value to the application?

For an older applicant, exercise or health-related interests could be the deciding factor, especially after the interview reveals your age.

Involvement in an aligned organization could tip the scales by showing your active involvement in your industry.

One participant in our discussion shared the story of how one client eventually landed his dream job because he included his hobby of beekeeping on his resume. He was able to use this interest as a way to show how he had learned strong management techniques from his hobby.

Will my interests reveal racial, political and/or religious information that could lead to pre-screening of my application?

You should consider carefully the conclusions that an extracurricular activity may lead to. Unfortunately, there are times when leaving off information that identifies your religious affiliation actually bites you. It is painful to be offered a job, only to have the offer withdrawn because you can’t work certain hours.

I made the choice years ago to let employers pre-screen me based on that information’s inclusion. It weeds out those employers who are intolerant. I advise clients to consider their personal goals and values. I will work with them to ensure the resumes I write further those goals and values.

Do I have the space?

Space is a major consideration for U.S. resumes. Two pages or less tends to be the norm. I wouldn’t displace other more important information with ‘interests.’

Ultimately, inclusion of interests should be a job-by-job decision. What might be vital for one application could be detrimental to another. I recommend looking for hints in the job description and the company website. Get to know the company you want to work for.

I know clients resist the importance of personalization, yet it can’t be emphasized enough. It is the first step to floating to the top. There just isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to writing a job-landing resume. Without personalization, you just don’t have a chance!

Invest in a resume that produces results. Contact Denise today.

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