Love it or hate it, many job seekers feel compelled to create a personal interests section on their resume, possibly in hopes of connecting with their interviewer with an off-topic interest and on a more personal level, thus increasing their chances for the job.
For example, “Oh, you enjoy playing guitar, so do I, what kind of guitar do you have?”
A personal interest can be an ice breaker during the interview, and may even tip the scales in your favor during the final candidate selection, but it’s doubtful.
More than anything, listing a personal interest on your resume is going to take up valuable space that could otherwise be used for highlighting your skills, qualifications, and accomplishments.
There is however a good reason to create a Personal Interests or Personal Activities section on your resume, but only if it supports your job objective. Here are a few examples of when it would be appropriate to list your personal interests on your resume.
- Your personal interest is in reading and you are applying for a job at a library.
- Your personal interest is tutoring school children in math and you are applying for a teaching position.
- You have a personal interest in home cooking and you are applying for a job in a restaurant.
- You have a personal interest in cars and you are applying for a job at a car dealership.
- You have a personal interest in playing guitar or piano and you are applying for a job in a music store, or as a music teacher.
I would suggest avoiding listing on your resume religious affiliations or personal interests that are in any way controversial. For example,
- Saying that you are an avid hunter may offend your interviewer if he is an animal lover, but you should not be listing hunting as a personal interest unless you are applying to a company that openly advocates hunting.
- Saying you are an animal rights activist seems noble enough and something to be proud of, but what if your interviewer is a hunter?
- Saying that you’re on the board of trustees of the National Abortion Federation may not sit well with your interviewer if her beliefs are Pro Life.