Creating a resume is a bit like working out. You may not really want to do it, but it's a necessary task, and one that gets easier the more you practice. For some people, the most difficult part of the resume is the "Interests" section, since it can require you to be creative and not just list a series of facts and numbers. If you're having serious trouble with this section, first examine whether you really need it at all -- then use some of your resources to flesh out the details.
Why Do It
First, ask yourself whether you really need that interests section at all. Generally, the reason people include this section is to show that they have a personal side -- that they're well-rounded and not just focused on work. That can be good for "serious" professionals such as lawyers, doctors or accountants -- but not so good for entry-level or blue collar jobs, says IT recruiter Zachary Sines. In those jobs, having too many hobbies or outside interests may signal that you won't be committed to the job. Take a moment to consider whether you need that section at all, based on the type of job.
If you're convinced that you need the interests section, make sure it's tailored to the job at hand. Read the job description again to get a feel for what the employer is looking for. Underline the adjectives used to describe the ideal candidate. If an employer uses the words "team player," they may be interested to hear that you play team sports. If they use the words "intellectual" or "aware of current events," they may like that you're an avid reader of political or historical books. If they're looking for someone "detail-oriented," having a painting or musical hobby may be of interest.
If you're still having trouble figuring out which interests to include on your resume, do some brainstorming. Spend a few minutes writing down all the things you do in your free time. Then, refer back to that job description to see if any of your hobbies fit. Remember, the right things to include on your resume may not even be the things you do the most; surfing may not apply to the job at hand, but an interest in classical literature might. If you're still having trouble, ask a friend or former colleague to help. Get her to list some of your most attractive work-related attributes, and then think of interests that translate. Don't worry if you only end up coming up with a few relatable interests -- less may be more.
Once you've come up with a few interests, make sure you will be able to talk about them. If the prospective employer is intrigued by your interests, she may ask about them during the interview, and in some cases she may be interested because she shares those same hobbies. Be ready with a few anecdotes about how those hobbies have made you more well-rounded, helped you develop strength or teamwork skills -- or something else related to the job. Sure, you may just like doing those things for the heck of it, but at a job interview, employers want all of your experiences and interests to be tilted toward how they relate to the job.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.