Most of us have a hobby or passion project of some sort. For some, it’s baking; for others, photography, woodworking, or fishing. Still others volunteer at the Humane Society on weekends or spend their free time reading to residents at retirement homes. If you’ve found your niche, how can you use that as a positive when applying for jobs?
Dedicate time and effort to developing your skills. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it really, really well. Make your hobby into something that separates you from the crowd.
Highlight your hobby in your application. Most people don’t have a “hobby” section on their résumé. This is a good thing; hobbies generally aren’t what draw the eye of a hiring manager, and listing them separately takes up precious space. You can, however, highlight your hobbies in other, more subtle, ways. Information about your hobby could get listed in the skills section of your résumé. If you are selected for an interview you could bring up your hobby in more detail then (as long as it’s relevant). However, it might be more useful to include information about your hobby in a cover letter and to tie it into the job you’re applying for. Keep in mind, though, that unless the position you’re applying for involves working with children, and you just so happen to have been volunteering with at-risk youth for the past two years, tying your hobby to the position might require some creativity.
Connect your hobby to your career. Note specific skills and experiences that have come from your participation in this hobby that also make you better at your job. If your hobby is baking specialty cakes, you may reference your attention to detail, working with customers to achieve their desired outcome, and time management, all of which can be valuable skills in a workplace setting. You don’t have to explicitly say that your hobby is making cakes for your experiences and the skills you’ve learned to be valid.
Explain how your hobby could be valuable to an employer. If your hobby or passion could translate to a positive boost for the company, that’s a big selling point. In the baking example, maybe you would be willing to be the designated baker for special occasions at work, or are going to be on a competition show that the company could tout for free publicity. Alternatively, if videography is your hobby, you could help create company advertisements or training materials. Make yourself an invaluable asset.
Be passionate. Show that your hobby is something you truly, deeply care about. Talk about the amount of time you spend doing it, how it’s grown in importance to you over time, and what it adds to your life. It may be good to talk about sacrifices you’ve made to continue your hobby, but stay away from mentioning things like quitting your last job or cutting back on hours, because a prospective employer will see that as a red flag.
Play up the soft skills you’ve learned. You don’t have to have an MBA to have learned negotiation techniques, adaptability, communication, or other soft skills that would be useful in an employee. If your hobby helped you develop these things, be sure to point it out. A skill may seem obvious, or like a given, but a prospective employer doesn’t know anything about you other than what you tell them.
Be selective. Carefully consider any hobbies you choose to include. Things like going to happy hour, watching television or movies, or doing puzzles are probably not going to have a benefit to your employer, and may even be seen as a negative. Focus on hobbies that you’re comfortable discussing and have an idea of how they could benefit your job performance or the company’s public image.
If you don't have a hobby or something that you feel passionate about right now, don’t stress! Look for opportunities to volunteer (the possibilities are endless: helping special needs children play sports, organizing donations at food banks, and picking up trash along the side of the road, to name a few) or try picking up a new skill by taking classes at a local community college or online (foreign languages, marketing, leadership, etc.). Anything you do in your spare time to learn, create, or help others is going to be an advantage for you!