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The recent trend of graphic resume designs has encouraged more jobseekers to use their hiring materials as a form of self-expression, often including a section dedicated to their personal interests and hobbies. The risk with this approach is that this space could be better utilized to demonstrate the candidate’s professional experience and transferable skills. Hobbies and interests are also subjective in nature and could potentially isolate a potential employer and hinder job prospects. Fortunately, there are some low-risk ways to insert your personality while highlighting your qualifications. 

Rather than explicitly stating your interests and hobbies, show prospective employers by emphasizing your involvement in relevant activities. If you donate your talent to a cause you believe in, include it in your resume. It can give potential employers a glimpse of your personality, while articulating specific, relevant skills.

Here’s an example of how to format your volunteer work:

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In this example, the resume demonstrates the candidate’s photography skills and interest in immigrant advocacy, while providing a clear idea of the impact of their work.

Similarly, community involvement—including affiliations with professional organizations or community programs—can work to show a candidate’s culture fit. For example, a graphic designer applying for a position at a bicycle gear company could demonstrate their culture fit by including their leadership experience during community biking events.

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If you lack formal experience in an area you’re passionate about but it relates to the position you’re applying to, you may consider using your cover letter as the platform to share this with prospective employers. For example, the same graphic designer could explain how the role provided a unique combination of their expertise in graphic design and passion for bike culture. In this instance, having this hobby might set the candidate apart.

By using these methods, you can ensure your resume strikes a great balance between showcasing your relevant skills for the role and your personality.

Andrea Gerson
Post by Andrea Gerson
August 26, 2020
Andrea Gerson is a social worker, career coach and workforce technology founder. Over the past 15 years, she's crafted impactful resumes for over 7,500 clients – many of who have gotten hired at organizations like Google, Apple, and the U.N. She's partnered with dozens of non-profit workforce agencies to lead staff trainings on topics like job search strategies, interview preparation and navigating workplace conflict. Andrea brings a strengths-based, client-centered perspective, and her work is an extension of her commitment to addressing the opportunity gap.