Personal Interests on a Resume
If you don’t have your personal interest or interests listed on your resume, you are missing out on an opportunity to set yourself apart.
I am working with a number clients on their resumes. These clients range from mid-level manager to the VP level. One thing that is missing from these resumes is the candidate’s personal interests.
When I ask the candidate about their personal interests, they freely tell me about them. When I ask them why they didn’t list their personal interests on their resume I hear the following.
- I like to golf, but I am not very good. I have a high handicap and I don’t want to talk about it.
- Well, I do like to run, but running isn’t related to the job I am applying for
- I like baseball, but everyone likes sports. That doesn’t mean anything
- Craft beers area passion for me, but didn’t think that was appropriate for a professional document
So, today I am here to tell you about why listing your personal interest is so important. First and foremost, the personal interest can make you memorable and help you stand out.
Requisite Dating Example
If we are going on a first date, we dress appropriately and are ready to be entertaining and witty. We can talk all night and have a good time, but if we don’t share anything about our personal interests or learn about our Crush’s passions we feel like something is missing.
Let’s say I am a hiring manager and I am looking for a candidate with 3-5 years of experience with a degree in marketing. I share the qualifications with the recruiter and the recruiter comes back with 4-6 candidates. We can be pretty sure that all of the candidates I receive from the recruiter are going to have between 3-5 years of experience with a marketing degree. There may be a dark horse with 2.5 years or 6 years of experience, but for the most part, all of these resume’s look the same.
All candidates are not created equal
Of course, the recruiter didn’t just receive 4-6 applications for our position. The recruiter received 150 resumes and that was in the first week the job was posted. The recruiter was the initial filter. The other 144 resumes had less than 3 years and more than 5 years of experience. The vast majority of the candidates were out of the requested window of experience, from the wrong industry or field of study.
A candidate with too little experience won’t be able to do the job we are looking for. If we wanted a junior candidate we would have listed 1-3 years of experience required.
The folks with more than 6 years of experience will be looking for too much money. They have more experience, consequently, they are overqualified. We are like Goldilocks and want “jussstttt righhhhttt”.
Qualified candidates look similar
So, as the hiring manager, I receive 4-6 resumes from the recruiter that is in the ballpark. For the most part, they all look VERY similar. And they should. All have marketing degrees and all have the right amount of experience.
And here is where the personal interest can help you stand out. This can be the differentiator that most candidates miss.
Hiring managers will look at the very top of the resume and then go straight to the end of the document. They will skim the middle of the resume on their way to the end, but trust me, they are going to see the end of the document. All hiring managers are morbidly curious about education and who doesn’t want to see the ending. It’s human nature.
The end of an interesting story is always read
Since we know the hiring manager is going to read the end, we know they will notice our personal interests. These are usually listed at the very end of the document AFTER the education.
Personal interests: An avid runner, running 2 marathons a year and professional baseball statistics fanatic. I believe that Oreo’s should be eaten center first.
If the About Page of the hiring company indicates some personality in the office, you could add the last sentence. I would hold off on the last sentence if I am applying to a conservative law firm.
Break the personal interest stereotype
We want to avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes. Remember, someone just read your dossier and stalked your picture on LinkedIn. They formed a picture in their mind about who you are and your personality. If you are an accountant, shatter the bean counter stereotype and add that you dedicated to CrossFit. Stay away from talking about your 6 cats or weekly bridge game.
I have literally had managers ask me about a candidate by referring to them by where they are from, what school they went to, or some obscure fact they listed. When I went to interview at my last two jobs, as soon as I sat down, my moniker HRNasty was mentioned by the interviewers. Yeah, the cat was out of the bag, but for whatever reason, they remembered me and wanted to ask me about the blog during the interview. Listing the personal interest paid off.
Not just co-workers, but hopefully friends
At the end of the day, the hiring manager wants to know that you can not only do the job but have some personality. They are going to spend 8 hours a day with someone. It might as well be a hire who they have something in common with or can imagine having something in common with.
If you want to stick out, list a few personal interests and include a strong descriptor like “passionate”, “avid”, or “fanatical”.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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