View Full Version : POLL: 'Interests' on a resume. Waste?
Just overhauling my resume and I was looking at my interests section thinking 'they don't care, they won't really read it and I can save more space and make it more concise.'
Is it just me or is it really a waste of space having them? I know when I've interviewd people I HAVE read that section but I also know that most of my colleagues certainly don't.
What do you think? If I delete it I can get it down to four pages exactly.
My hand is hovering over the delete key....
06-05-2001, 09:43 AM
First off, four pages is WAY too long for a resume, unless your name is either Margaret Thatcher or Keith Richards. :D
Secondly, I DO think the interests section tells a lot about a person. What do they do in their spare time, are they thrill seekers (i.e. risk takers!), are they completely boring? I've found that my interests section was usually a good start for some nice off-the-record conversation in many interviews.
Of course, my interests include full-contact checkers, poodle fighting, and underwater gecko breeding.
*checks passport, discovers name ISN'T Margaret Thatcher or Keith Richards* Damn!!
Well it's now down to 3. Though I think Keith Richards' might not even be 4 paragraphs long let alone 4 pages...
I've done a heck of a lot I'll have you know Coldie. It's always that toss up where you're not sure how much detail to leave in your work history...
06-05-2001, 10:16 AM
I think it's a tough call. It takes up precious space (which someone like you needs, dpr. Conventional wisdom says in many fields, it's gotta be kept to one measly page, even when that page is wholly inadequate to chronicle the qualifications of a gem like yourself). However, I do think it makes you seem more like a person and an individual (and more interesting) to the person reviewing your resume.
My husband is working with some guy who wants to market his (Mr. Cranky's) services in tandem with his own gig. When he asked for supporting materials, he suggested that Mr. Cranky definitely include his woodworking hobby. He felt it would be a bonus for prospective clients to know Mr. Cranky had some hands-on abilities, too. It's a special case, but I am sure there are other fields where your hobby (depending on the hobby) could make you look like a better candidate.
06-05-2001, 10:17 AM
I gotta tell you, dpr-- I worked for an executive search firm for quite a while and for the most part the "interest" section some candidates included served mostly as joke fodder. We never included it on information we sent to clients. Oftentimes that kind of thing would come up during the interview process anyway.
06-05-2001, 10:24 AM
You should try to keep the resume to about one page.
I've had several cases where my interests intrigued people enough for me to get an interview. If you have room, put them there.
06-05-2001, 10:25 AM
I've used the 'interests' section both to generate talking points in interviews I was doing and to start things up for myself.
But make sure you avoid anything totally obscure. I play guitar, I rescue Greyhounds. People know what those are right away. Anything way off the beaten path won't catch the attention properly. If you have to explain it in detail then you're doing yourself wrong.
And 4 pages? That's not necessarily a bad thing. Mine is that long and I get calls every month or so from recruiting firms. Make your resume as long as it needs to be. No more, no less. Make it brief but complete.
Another vote for TRYING to get that resume down to one page. They don't need to know everything you've ever doneŚcut whatever is not relevant to that job.
And yes, also cut those "interests." This is business. No one cares that you like to Rollerblade or sing grand opera. Unless you are applying for a job Rollerblading or singing grand opera.
06-05-2001, 10:34 AM
well, I do resumes professionally (for exoffender clients), and for some relatives and friends. I've included "interests" twice that I can think of - the most recent was for my son. He's 17 and isn't out of high school yet, so, including his work history (2 years experience at the same employer), it was gonna be pretty sparse.
Personal interests could go into a cover letter if it's connected to the company (for example, if you find that they have a company softball team, mentioning that you're a southpaw pitcher might be good).
On the receiving end of resumes, if they include interests, I've used it to screen people out but never to keep some one that was marginal otherwise, in. In other words, I'd use it to hurt you (but you'd probably like, that, right? :D ) but not help you.
06-05-2001, 10:35 AM
I think we may have a bit of a cultural gap here. While I can't say anything useful about Australia (from whence dpr hails), I can say that an "Interests" section is pretty much mandatory on a Dutch CV - and I have indeed heard many Americans that frown at the practise.
06-05-2001, 12:40 PM
The last time our department was hiring, we got about 60 resumes. After getting a good laugh out of them (some of them were real knee-slappers, like the one that read like a personal ad: 27, single, etc.), we summarily discarded any that included interests.
From then on, we referred to any resume that came in with interests listed as being of the "I like puppies and bunnies" variety. IMO, it just looks goofy. If you have interests that you think will help you connect with the interviewer, then that's where you should bring them up...in the interview. They don't belong in your listing of your credentials.
I'm willing to admit, however, that Coldfire is correct....this might be a cultural thing. Do you have any way to check to see what the standard prevailing practice is where you live?
06-05-2001, 12:59 PM
Vote for 2 pages. (One is generally too short, anything longer is too long).
And if you think the interests might generate some kind of conversation, leave them. But they shouldn't be there just to be there.
06-05-2001, 01:10 PM
The following sites all describe the differences in CVs and resumes between the UK, US and other nations:
How to write an international CV (http://intljobs.about.com/careers/intljobs/library/weekly/aa070300a.htm)
CV Tips (http://www.cvtips.com/)
Resume Store (http://www.resumestore.com/new/overseas.html)
My own CV consists of a very brief personal info section, education history (which is above employment only because it looks good), employment history (with very brief descriptions), training courses attended, a very brief interests section and references. I include four or five bullet points for interests mostly because, in my experience, it provides something different for interviewers to talk about, and to ask about your life outside work. It helps them judge whether you're the shy, retiring type or the hyperactive sociable type.
( It's here (http://www.fervent.co.uk/mkcv.doc), if you're curious )
I guess half the problem here is my profession. The communications field is quite broad and descriptions ambiguous (ironic huh?).
For example, I can't just say I've been a Communications Manager, Media Co-ordinator and Communications Consultant. Heck, I've heard mobile phone salespeople call themselves Communication Consultants (and I DO operate on a higher level than that). Therefore I need to include a brief over view. However, the fact that I'm a perfectionist (at work) combined with my penchant for diversifying means I have a wide array of duties and skills. Even in point form.
At the moment, I have two pages for the work history while the other page contains additional skills & qualifications, education and referees.
To answer Jadis' question on the prevailing practice here, well there isn't a consistent one. I've sat on selection panels before and the range is staggering at times. From one page to 10 (which is way too much). Usually they average about three though, and more for higher level positions.
Originally posted by Jonathan Chance
I've used the 'interests' section both to generate talking points in interviews I was doing and to start things up for myself.
I do this too, but I sneak it in under "Licenses": After CPR and First Aid and such, they find Private Pilot, Single-Engine Land. This works well in two ways for me: First, it is a nice talking point. Second, a pilot's license (supposedly) demonstrates I can start and finish a significant project that demands discipline.
So go get an interest that grants you a license of some sort.
06-06-2001, 12:18 AM
If your interests are relevant, toss them in. If they show that you stand out above the crowd, toss them in. Instead of headings such as "Interests" or "Hobbies", try for headings such as "Speaking Engagements", "Community Service", or "Awards and Distinctions".
Try for one page to cover the important stuff, such as your professional designation, experence and education. As a communcations consultant, try stuffing in one line descriptions of your top contracts along with the names of your major clients (obviously check with them first).
Save the fun stuff for page two, don't count on anyone ever reading page two, and do not go beyond two pages.
Of course one or two pages will not say everything you want to say, but that is not relevant. The only thing that matters is that on the first page you say what your reader wants to hear. Given that the person reading your resume for the first cut will only be spending about twenty seconds on it, you must have enough on the first page to get you through the first cut.
Consider building a master resume with everything in it, and then customizing it for specific jobs by editing down to one or two pages. This will help you focus on what your reader wants to see.
Work on the layout. Use the design to hold the reader's attention. One page or one-hundred pages will make little difference if your resume is not visually appealing, particularly in your field.
BTW, having been a communications consultant with a wide range of experience over many years, I understand what you are facing. Look at it as a challenge. It can be done and done well.
06-07-2001, 07:58 PM
I've just GOT to chime in again. Move along if hiring practices bore you.
Again, I insist, make your resume as long as it needs to be. But be brutal on yourself. Long fits of text about each position doesn't get it done. List each employer (and job for employer if you got promotions or whatnot) and bullet point your responsibilities and major accomplishments. List your college and university history, even if you didn't graduate. Make sure you're brief but complete.
As I said, mine is 4 pages long now. It's gotten me 8 gigs so far over the years and doesn't show any signs of hindering me.
As for not hiring folks who put interests in...
I've hired many a many slots over the last ten years and I find that the interests section gives me a feel for the person. And with so many many people having roughly the same credentials, that's important. So don't mock people who have interests outside their career and are willing to be upfront about them. Those are a plus. I'd much prefer someone with a life than someone who, in an interview, just throws me the "I live for my work! Really!" line. I just never buy it.
06-07-2001, 11:36 PM
I'm ambivalent about someone including an "Interests" section on a resume. I, too, think that a good resume is one page, tops. Listing your interests does take up space.
On the other hand, when I do hire people I hire them to do creative work; and I think that to do a creative (design, writing, etc.) kind of job effectively, a person needs to be curious and interested and all of that stuff.
However, I'm not too concerned with what someone's outside interests are specifically. What's important to me is how they use what they've learned by being interesting and creative in their free time, to do a better job while they're on the clock.
So I guess my vote is no for an "Interests" section on the resume. If for some reason I feel I do need to know about hobbies or interests, I can ask during the interview.
Carnac the Magnificent!
06-08-2001, 07:33 AM
The obvious answer is: it depends on your occupation, the prevailing business practices in your country, the position you are applying for, and more.
I now head a large financial division and have interviewed countless prospects (well into the hundreds) over the years. Here in the U.S., I would regard any resume/CV for an executive position with mention of "interests" as really peculiar. Yes, it would get my attention, but not in a favorable way. The rule of thumb in the U.S. is that applicants should keep their resumes to one page unless their achievements and experience--in that order--are noteworthy. Exceptions would include applicants for senior management, academia, the legal and medical professions, etc.
Above all, I would expect brevity from a communications professional and interpret a lack thereof as a red flag.
Considering that many interview committees get flooded with resumes/CV's and spend maybe 20-30 seconds on each--looking to separate the wheat from the chaff--you don't want a strike against you.
My general advice is: Bottomline and bullet your achievements. Skip the "references" for God's sake. Ditto the "interests" section. Even the objective can be sacrificed if you have a bulletproof cover letter. And, no, don't ever send a photograph (unless you are considering a career on the stage/screen) or convey anything personal. A resume should show solid achievement and ability.
Bottomline for Aussies: find three communications professionals--preferably those with extensive hiring experience--in comparable positions and ask them.
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