Discussing Hobbies in Resumes, Interviews, and More

Working on a resume, in an interview, filling out an online form, working with anew client, we too often get that dreaded points where we have to describe our hobbies.

You probably know what I'm talking about.  You wonder if (or how) you'll explain your fanfic, or your costly, or your website dedicated to rock operas, or pretty much anything else that's part of your interests.  It's hard to communicate, hard to explain simply – and you may simply be self-conscious about it.

So in short, how do you put your fannishness, your geek, on the table in the job search?

First, you need to stand back and ask just why do people want to know about your hobbies?  It's not necessarily relevant to the work you do, correct?

I'd say it's not.  Hobbies show . . .

  1. That you have a life outside of work (which, believe it or not, is seen as an advantage).
  2. How you relate to people and what people you relate to.
  3. Other skills and abilities you may have – hobbies often show potentials.
  4. Any potentially negative interests (let's be honest, if you go on month-long hikes for vacation, you might not be material for on-call tech support).

So when looking to communicate your hobbies professionally, I'd look at:

  1. Find ways to communicate how your hobbies show you have a life.  Yes, you may be on the internet a lot – but when you run social groups and websites it shows you do indeed have a life (just one online).
  2. When you discuss/list your hobbies, make sure that you show what people you relate to and work with – and how it may relate to your job.  I myself found my unrepentant geek background helped in IT since it pretty much guaranteed I'd have a lot in my hobbies to help me relate to people.
  3. Find ways to show how your hobbies indicate your potential.  We put a lot into our hobbies, we learn, we grow, we study, we practice.  Look at what they say about you – and make sure that's something obvious on the job.
  4. Are there any actual negative impacts?  You might not be right for the job or the client.  If you are right you'll want to be prepared for negative comments, or find ways to head them off in the first place. ("I like to go on long wilderness trips – when I'm able to arrange the free time").

Don't go worrying about communicating your hobbies or not, except perhaps in extreme cases  Instead find ways to communicate them to interviewers, HR, clients, etc. by keeping the above four categories in mind.

– Steven Savage

Book Review: Japanamerica

Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded The U.S
By Roland Kelts

ISBN-10: 140398476X
ISBN-13: 978-1403984760

PROS: A breezy, readable, yet informative look at how Japanese pop culture has become part of US culture, mixing theories, the big picture, and personal stories.

CONS: The book's approach makes it more useful for getting the big picture than direct research.  Some theories may seem odd or vague.

SUMMARY: An interesting and thought-provoking book that can help you get a good picture of how Japanese culture has become prominent in the US, why it may have happened, and the future.

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How The Victory of Geekdom Has It’s Downside

As I noted last week, geek is good, fan is fab, and the nerds have won.  Doctor Who is back,  the Trek franchise is invigorated, anime is hip, video games are everywhere.

Now, however, I'd like to look at the dark side of the Great Geek Victory.

How do companies, writers, publishers, programmers, etc. deal with the broad, new audience for things geeky, nerdy, technical, and cool?

My concern is that the hipness of nerddom is going to actually reduce experimentation.  The broader audiences have certain expectations, wishes, and interests.  These audiences also bring in a lot of cash.

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