I used to be on the fence about including hobbies and volunteer work on a resume, but now I’m not. I had been ambivalent because while hobbies or volunteerism arguably have little or no bearing on a candidate’s qualifications, they sometimes catch the hiring manager’s eye and forge enough of a bond that it leads to an interview.
But a February 2020 article in The New York Times Magazine got me off the fence, and squarely on the side of including hobbies and volunteer work on resumes. While the thesis of the article focused on multigenerational workforces and how to balance the requirements specific to each generation, the author references advice from a consultant that companies “embrace personalization, a deeply valued trait among Gen Zers.”
This concept aligns perfectly with my approach to resume writing. I write resumes in the first person because it strikes me as odd that anyone would refer to his or herself in the third person. Resumes are marketing tools for candidates to explain their qualifications, so expressing it in the first person sounds more natural. After all, people use the first person when talking about themselves during an interview – otherwise, the hiring manager would find the candidate very, very strange.
Adding in a line or two in the summary section about one’s hobbies or a volunteer project dear to one’s core values is an ideal way to personalize the resume. That said, I wouldn’t isolate either in a separate section of the resume. For one, volunteer work is work and should be listed within the timeline of professional experience IF there’s some relation to the candidate’s career. Otherwise, it’s more of a hobby.
So here’s how I would handle it on a resume; take a look at this Summary of Qualifications I wrote for an Operations Analyst:
“Throughout my career directing strategic planning for operations and product development within the healthcare industry, I have optimized revenue through risk mitigation, software enhancements, and regulatory and process change management. I lead discovery sessions with hospital executives, and leverage my leadership role in internal operations to manage performance assessment and professional development. Outside of work, I train as a long distance runner, and advise on operations for a local soup kitchen.”
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