Method 1 of 2: Writing for a College Admissions Committee Download Article
- College admissions committees are far more interested in your grades, work experience, skills and awards than they are in your hobbies and interests.
- As such, the hobbies and interests section of your resume should be presented toward the end of your resume. End with it, don’t lead with it.
- Prioritize individual activities as well. You can either list your activities chronologically, as you probably did in the “Work Experience” section, or from most to least impressive.
- Always remember that resumes are “top-down” documents, meaning you should lead with what you most want the reader to know about you.
- Do not simply list all of your activities with commas. This suggests that you have nothing to say about what you did other than the fact that you did it. Break each activity into its own bullet point.
- Decide whether you will write in full sentences or short phrases. A resume should not be overly long — ideally, it should fit onto a single page. If you find that your resume has too much length, use phrases rather than full sentences.
- For example: “Tennis: state champions, 2013, 2014; co-captained varsity team, 2012-14; member of varsity team, 2010-14.
- If your resume is not long enough and you need to develop length, you can write that same information out in full sentences: “Tennis: As a member of the varsity team from 2010 to 2014, I helped my team win the state championship in both 2013 and 2014. As co-captain from 2012 to 2014, I provided leadership both on and off the court, leading team workouts during the off-season and keeping teammates accountable to one another.”
- The activities section of your resume is the place to demonstrate that you don’t have a one-track mind. You have a variety of interests that can be developed over your four years in college.
- If possible, present an array of activities that demonstrate an engaged, curious mind: athletics, volunteerism, academic teams, interest in both the humanities (speech team) and STEM areas (Mathletes), etc.
- The more well-rounded you seem, the more appealing you will be to a committee that is trying to assess how you will develop over the next four years.
Set yourself apart from the pack. This may seem to contradict the previous step, but you don’t want to present yourself as so well-rounded that you’re indistinguishable from all the other applicants. Consider which activity you have engaged in, that most sets you apart from the rest of the applicant pool.
- Demonstrate a high level of interest in at least one of your activities. If you were a team captain, elected official or an otherwise engaged member of a group, you need to highlight that as well as possible.
- Describe the leadership qualities you may have developed through this activity: “As Key Club president, I chaired weekly meetings, delegated club responsibilities into committees, expanded our presence by recruited peers into volunteerism and oversaw member training before sending volunteers out into the community.”
- Explain what peripheral qualities you developed: “Over my four years in the Key Club, I developed an abiding dedication to underserved populations in local communities.”
Choose language carefully to dress up your activities. Much of this advice so far has assumed that you have a wide variety of impressive activities that can be easily listed on your resume. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many college applicants. While you should never fabricate activities for your resume, you can make what few activities you have seem more impressive by choosing your language carefully.
- Use the active voice throughout every document you submit in the application process. The passive voice suggests that you passively received skills or qualities from your life experiences, whereas the active voice demonstrates your engagement: you earned those skills.
- Note the difference between “Being on the football team taught me the importance of being a team player” and “I strengthened the team’s resolve and success by stressing to individual players the importance of group cohesion to the achievement of our goals.” Take credit wherever possible, even if you weren’t in leadership positions.
- Even if you don’t think you got a lot out of an activity, think about what skills and qualities you could have developed. For example —you might have been an awful cheerleader, but you can still say “I devoted myself to grueling practices daily throughout the season and developed an effective time-management system, through which I balanced schoolwork and cheering while dedicating myself fully to both.”
- Even if you’re not going to make the collegiate cheer squad, you’ve still demonstrated that you can manage your time — something you learned from cheerleading.
Method 2 of 2: Writing for a Potential Employer Download Article
Decide whether or not a “Hobbies and Interests” section is appropriate for this job. Depending on the application conventions in the industry you’re applying in, it may be inappropriate to include your hobbies on your resume at all. The potential employer may find it irrelevant and you don’t want that feeling to be attached to your application.
- Research the corporate culture of the company you’re applying to. Some companies encourage employees to bring their interests into the creative workplace, for example, Google explicitly cultivates an “open culture” workplace where hobbies are welcomed. A hobbies section would be very appropriate for an application in the tech industry with a company like Google.
- However, if you’re applying for a position at an accounting firm, the corporate culture may not be as welcoming of your hobbies. Leave them off that resume.
Be brief. Whereas a college admissions officer is looking to get a sense of how you might develop over the course of your undergraduate career, a potential employer wants to know, as concisely as possible, whether you would fit into the workplace or not. Stick to 7 words or less per hobby or interest. Don’t dwell on how you feel at one with nature when you go biking every morning if you’re applying for a job with a consulting firm. Simply say that you bike regularly and participate in races.
Choose the interests you include carefully. Don’t list an interest if you’re not actually passionate about it — if it comes up in an interview, your lack of passion and knowledge will give you away as a resume passer.
- Choose interests that not only mean a lot to you, but also demonstrate the kind of person you are.
- For example, “reading” is a fairly generic activity that doesn’t reveal that much about you. However, running marathons suggests that you possess a high level of dedication and that you can overcome obstacles.
- “Listening to music” doesn’t tell your employee anything about you, but “I have practiced classical piano for 17 years,” tells them a lot.
- “Volunteering,” tells the employer something about you, but it’s not as detailed as it could be. Say, instead, that you’ve volunteered weekly at the same soup kitchen for 3 years, or that you bring your expertise from your state champion high school football team to bear when volunteering as a coach for community football league.
- Generally, hobbies that show leadership skills, personal initiative, dedication, or drive are good boosters for your resume.
Connect your interests to the job. Wherever possible, demonstrate how the skills and qualities you develop through your hobbies make you a better candidate for the position for which you’re applying. For example, a consulting firm may not care about what how biking up a mountain brings you closer to nature, but they will want to know that you have participated in several large-scale races that required dedication and grit in training, or that you suffered a serious injury that at some point threatened to derail your hobby, but that you are not fazed by obstacles, and you worked through it.