If you’re a job seeker in today’s market, you’re probably aware that job postings today receive a ton of resumes. In fact, recent studies show that corporate job openings attract an average of 250 applicants. With so many candidates for employers to choose from, your work experience and education can only go so far when it comes to standing out from the crowd, especially when you’re just getting out of school.
Believe it or not, hobbies and interests can often help sway recruiters and HR professionals, providing insights into the value you can bring to the organization, and how well you’ll fit into the company culture.
So, if you’re worried about your experience (or lack thereof), here are some hobbies that will help your resume stand out from the crowd.
Detailing volunteer experience shows what causes you really care about, which can give an employer a better sense of your personality. Most importantly, it shows that you care about more than just making money. If you’re willing to commit to a cause you believe in, that’s a great sign you’re willing to commit to an employer you believe in. Think of it as a character reference, but without having to call your old boss.
“Your volunteer experience can express meaningful information that may not be apparent from your work history,” says Eileen Chadnick, certified coach and Principal of Big Cheese Coaching. “For instance, raising funds for a charity or being a “Big Brother” shows someone who has empathy, gives back, and takes time to be of service to others. An interesting volunteer role on a resume can also be a conversation starter, which can help build connection and rapport with the interviewer.”
If you’ve ever done taekwondo or jiu-jitsu, you’ll know that martial arts are not about fighting. It’s all about the discipline and the humility that it takes to become a master of the art, which is something that not everyone can achieve.
According to Veronica De Santos of DeSantos Martial Arts in Toronto, “Martial arts is known for its discipline but it also helps empower people on many different levels. Confidence and focusing on tasks, perseverance in completing tasks (especially those that are challenging), and how to work well within a team.”
If you’re an accomplished martial artist (or just starting out), mention it on your resume. A black belt may sound like it has nothing to do with work, but it has everything to do with who you are, your capabilities, and who you will be as an employee.
Like martial arts, there is a certain level of dedication required to be great at golf. You not only need to be able to hit the ball well, you need to be able to do it accurately, and strategically to get the best score over 18 holes.
Furthermore, it is the game of choice for the movers and shakers in the corporate world. Indeed, 43% of execs say some of their biggest deals have been done on the golf course.
“You can learn a lot about a person in the four hours you spend on the course with someone. This is why business can and does take place on the course,” says Jason Bennett, Director of Golf at Oak Bay Golf and Country Club. “Any true golfer who plays the game the right way will have learned humility, respect, persistence, problem solving skills, focus, punctuality, graciousness, the importance of hard work over luck, and that silence can be golden. These qualities should all bode well in any job search.”
Programming can be an incredibly marketable hobby. It not only shows that you have experience writing code (a highly valuable commodity in this job market), it also shows that you have analytical skills and the desire to learn.
According to Andrew Mawer, CEO of Toronto programming school Bitmaker, “Over 2,000 of our graduates have found that learning programming skills has made them universally more employable across even non-technical fields, regardless of the role they want to pursue after completing one of our courses.”
Clearly, employers of all kinds value computer programming as a skill. So even if you do it as a hobby, it will look great on your resume!
In a competitive job market, it pays to be distinctive, and having hobbies on your resume is an easy way to stand out from the crowd. So don’t be afraid to mention that golf tournament that you placed third in last summer. While your friends and family may not care, your future boss might be trying to impress a client who loves to golf. Guess who they’re going to call?
Maxwell Arnold is a Consulting student at George Brown College.
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