Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Things that People In My Social Circle Like That I Do Not Understand -- Hobbies and Interests Sections on Resumes

This should be an "enough said," but maybe it isn't. So here goes nothing, the Case Against Hobbies Sections:

1. They force me to scale back on stuff that is potentially job-related. Yes, I know, it's true that probably nobody is that excited, years after the fact, that I was an intern for three months in Dartmouth College's Office of Public Relations. Or that I taught a creative writing class to a group of inner city kids back in 2001. But who knows, maybe somebody will see some obvious connection between these activities and the relevant position that I don't. Immediately after college, I had a lawyer tell me that she thought that being an admissions office tour guide was a leading indicator of what would make for a great large law firm paralegal. Strange things happen.

2. They reward annoying SWPL-ness at the expense of substance. I have always sensed that none of my hobbies and interests, such as they are, are quite "right" for the genre. I am supposed to like extreme sports or something that show that I am adventurous. Except that I am actually terribly clumsy and will find ways to injure myself previously unimaginable by more normally coordinated people. Also, apparently liking travel would be good, except that I would have trouble honestly claiming such as a hobby or interest, despite the fact that I am working on it.

An honest answer -- "Reading, reading, and reading some more" -- would probably not be good. Sometimes, talking about reading scares people into thinking that I am pretentious. Other times, it draws questions like "What kind of books do you like to read?", to which it is probably not helpful to respond, "Well, I'm willing to try any that have words and pages." (True, I suppose this is not a problem for people who actually have well focused tastes in books. But I don't, so it doesn't in my case.) In any case, the real problem is that "Reading" does not seem to be a particularly good marker of SWPLness, and so is not interesting to the kind of person whom I am supposed to impress.

One might say that the kind of employer who cares over-much about this sort of thing would be a poor fit for someone like me anyway. This is true, but I tend to think that the world would be a better place if SWPL class markers were less important, rather than more. Reducing their importance in the hiring process would be a nice first step.


  1. I think hobbies sections are lame, but that's because my actual past and present hobbies (shooting guns, knitting, blogging) are like job kryptonite.

  2. I see why shooting guns and blogging would be kryptonite in the eyes of some, although I'm of course more laissez faire about this stuff myself. But knitting? Am not seeing how that could possibly be controversial.

  3. Lots of people think it's a weird old-lady hobby. Single woman, two cats, knitting needles ... apparently I might at any point decide to quit bathing and begin hoarding bottle tops.