In a recent blog post, Employers Hire Potential Drinking Buddies Ahead Of Top Candidates, the author cites the results of an academic study by Lauren Rivera, an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Rivera found that people hired candidates who they liked and to whom they could relate rather than the most qualified person. Shocking? No. But Rivera’s accompanying anecdotes are very instructive.
She found that résumé reviewers looked at the “Other Interests” section of the résumé and would frequently make interviewing decisions based on the contents. In one instance, rejecting a candidate out of hand because the applicant enjoyed lacrosse, squash and crew and therefore would not fit in with the rough and tumble culture of the law firm to which he was applying.
However, at another company, the resume reviewer played squash and said she loved anyone else who did as well and would therefore be partial to that person. The author of the article concluded you should include a section for “Other” or “Interests” on your résumé because “Your passion for squash or for running marathons might wind up getting you the job.” Or it might get you eliminated before you even have a chance to interview.
In my experience, the real estate on a résumé is precious and should be filled with your skills, accomplishments and relevant career history. Logistically, there often isn’t room for an “Other” or “Interests” section. But, more importantly, why take the chance of having an interest that will take you out of the running before you even reach the starting line. Save the other interests information for the interview where you can establish a rapport and see how well your pursuits and personal pastimes are playing.
I do have one caveat, if the corporate culture is a significant part of the company’s brand, i.e. The North Face, and your own personal passions and pursuits align with their extreme outdoor activity culture, then by all means add it to your résumé.