Your Hobbies and Interests Tell a Story: Tailor Yours to Your Resume
The “hobbies and interests” section of the resume has evolved over the years. From a few throwaway lines, it’s become an important insight into your personality, one that many prospective employers in the hospitality industry read to get a complete picture of a job seeker. “Some years ago, it was seen as too fluffy,” says Peter Shrive, a partner with Cambridge Management Planning. “Today it’s become more acceptable. In the beginning, you included club memberships, church affiliations and such. Now it’s an opportunity to expose another side of your experience and what you can do.”
It’s also often the last chance you have to make a positive impression in writing, so you want to get it right.
“If nothing else on the resume has persuaded someone to call you for an interview, if you’re clever, this paragraph could be the last opportunity for someone to say, ‘I want to meet this person,’” says Shrive.
This is the time to ask yourself:
- have I ever been elected to anything?
- have I ever won any awards?
- have I done anything that would surprise (and delight) an employer?
Get it right
The way your talk about your hobbies and interests says more about your personality and your suitability for a job than you might think. Perhaps, in your mind, your weekend sky-diving shows an adventurous side of you that will appeal to employers. But, as chef-consultant Gary E. Miller says, “I want to know that the person is going to show up for work on Monday. For extracurricular activities, I look for people who list things like soccer and hockey because then I know they’re team players.”
Dos and don’ts
Here are some other dos and don’ts for your hobbies and interests section:
- use this section to talk about awards, special achievements and community activities. These interests reveal that you’re capable of growing, you’re more than competent, and you’re responsible beyond your area of training. Hospitality employers looking for candidates to advance to management look keenly at these achievements.
- talk about special interests with relevance to the hospitality industry. For instance, if you’ve been on wine tours, your new knowledge could benefit a restaurant with a growing wine list and a client interested in new drinks.
- highlight areas with crossover potential for the hospitality industry. For instance, if you coach a soccer team in your spare time, a hospitality employer will see you as a possible asset in staff training. Involved in local fund-raising? You might have the skills to run a restaurant’s community outreach.
- tell prospective hospitality employers that you’re a high thrill-seeker, such as a skydiver, scuba diver or pilot of a self-built airplane. The issue, says Peter Shrive, is that these kinds of people are at greater risk of accident or even death. Employers are looking for stability and reliability, not an Evel Knievel who wants to be a kitchen manager. If you break your leg over the weekend and can’t do the heavy lifting some hospitality jobs require, your employer is not going to be overly sympathetic.
- make it too obvious that you revel in your hobby. If you’re really turned on by your hobby, a smart resume reviewer will sense that the first chance you get, you’re going to head off on your own to indulge in your pastime because you’d rather do this than work.
The right “hobbies and interests” section can be just the door-opener you need to pull your resume off the pile. Highlighting the right activities in the right way will persuade prospective hospitality employers that you are someone worth talking to.