There are mixed opinions in the recruiting world about using "interests" on your resume. This topic came to mind from a listing on a resume I saw earlier today. Stepping back a bit, it's important to remember that it isn't the recruiter that you need to impress, it is the hiring manager. Recruiters are trained conversationalists, and we are generally a fairly outgoing bunch. Managers on the other hand, may be a bit more shy. Sometimes interests can be a way to break the ice with a candidate. But if you choose to list interests on your resume it's crucial to know what and what not to include (and why!).
Generally, any organized team sport is a great item to include, either as a player or as a coach. Participating in organized sports shows a manager that you pursue a healthy work/life balance; that you are used to working in a team environment; it also shows a bit of a competitive streak, which speaks to motivation and pursuit of excellence. Singular sports such as golf, skiing, or activities such as martial arts still indicate an understanding of competition but even more so discipline and self-motivation. It is the same with any sort of artistic pursuit (musical instrument or choral interests; dance or theater; painting, sculpture etc.) Reading, writing, and travel are frequently used as "interests". These are generally positive subjects (unless for some reason you list that you are something like a best-selling erotica author). Reading and writing intimate good communication skills, and travel shows a sense of adventure and potentially an exposure to different cultures. Some activities bear careful consideration. For example, what happens if you list hunting or fishing on your resume and the hiring manager is a member of PETA? Or you add wine tasting to your list of interests and a hiring manager grew up the child of an alcoholic family?
Most people automatically assume that all volunteer experience should be on a resume. However, it is important to consider what message your associations sends. Usually any non-profit or social support group that isn't religious in nature or doesn't have political ties is safe. Examples would be PTA , homeless shelters, Big Brothers and Sisters of America, Scouts, Meals on Wheels, non-profit groups like the Red Cross, anything supporting medical research such as the a 10K to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. But remember, you want to make sure you don't include anything that indicates your ethnicity, religion, political affiliations, or sexual orientation. For example, you might wow a manager with your experience, but if you list that you are the VP of a local chapter of a GLBT group, you could be opening yourself up to social prejudices. Did you volunteer in the last Presidential election? What happens if the manager is a card-carrying member of the opposing party and donated a major amount of money to supporting the losing (or winning) party candidate?
So, to return to the example I alluded to that sparked this conversation. This candidate looked good professionally. But she listed as one of her interests her dog. "Miss Sparkles, a sweet min-pin/schnauzer mixed breed". (Not the real entry.) OK, this is rather amusing, but it raises a red-flag for me. I'm certainly all for pets; I've got several myself. Usually animals are a "safe" topic in terms of volunteering at a shelter, or a rescue organization. But going into *so much* information about your pet is way too obsessive. You would be amazed at the number of employees that either believe there is no reason they shouldn't bring their pets to work, or demand a telecommute schedule so many days a week so they can spend time with Fluffy or Fido. (True stories from this year that I know about first-hand.) And, honestly, listing your pet's name AND breed is *too much information*. Really, trust me on this. Have someone read over your resume and help you determine if someone might be offended or turned off by your interests and activities.
How Great Thou Art
Converting Volunteer Experiences On Your Resume
Chris: Re: Do You Give TMI Regarding Your Activities On Your Resume?
I don't recommend listing Boy Scouts of America on a resume. The BSA's membership rules exclude atheists and agnostics. Homosexuals are not allowed to be employees or adult volunteers. As a result, listing the BSA on a resume can have the same effect as listing a political association or the LGBT.
Kristen (Author): Re: Do You Give TMI Regarding Your Activities On Your Resume?
Thanks for the info.
Margaret Mcintyre: Re: - Do You Give TMI Regarding Your Activities On Your Resume?
Listing Boy Scouts. It's true. I was eliminated from consideration for a Human Resources position at the ***** School of Psychology because (a number of) leaders there are gay and were quite clear about how *they" viewed people "like me" who were Scout Volunteers (my older son an Eagle Scout, younger son on his way as Star by 7th grade). I was fine with being eliminated because I would have found it difficult to work for/with people who were so prejudiced. I think it's best to be yourself and if folks don't like Boy Scouts of America, that's not a place I would want to work. I agree though, no political affiliations--only list if you were perhaps an election judge which is a civic service not partisan. I had previously worked for a gay man in a largely gay department; Many of my clients in SanFransisco were gay; no problem with that.
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