It’s the classic job seeker’s dilemma, particularly at the outset of their career. A Catch-22. You can’t get a job without experience – and you can’t get experience without a job. The solution to the problem is the cause of the problem itself.
What if there was another way? Some method of sneaking experience, skills, accomplishments, and even a portfolio into your application – without first landing a job that uses those abilities. It turns out that there it.
It’s the often maligned – and even more often misused – ‘hobbies’ section of your resume.
Most modern career advisers will recommend that you don’t include this section at all in your resume. Employers want to see where you have worked, what skills you have, and what you have managed to accomplish on the job. That – along with how professionally your document reads, a lack of red flags, and how close you live to the job site – are basically all that matters when it comes to determining whether or not to interview you.
It’s true that many of the hobbies we traditionally see at the bottom of resumes (spending time with family, fitness and running, avid reading, etc.) while worthy pursuits, do little to increase a candidate’s hireability.
How you can sneak skills and experience into your resume.
You can add relevant skills – and keywords – into your resume by practicing the skills needed by the employer in your spare time. Then list these as your hobbies.
If you’re looking for a marketing role that requires the production and publishing of video content, but you’ve never done that on the job or studied it in school, but you have the ability, you can still list it on your resume. And in more than just a bullet point in your skills summary.
Video production. Shot, edited and published numerous high-quality videos for friends, family, and local events. These have been viewed, liked, and shared thousands of times on social media and YouTube. You can view samples here (include link).
The same technique can be used for many other skills such as writing and blogging, or coding, programming, and designing websites, or photography and graphic design, or organizing, promoting, and running events just to name a few.
I landed one of my first jobs at an advertising agency by showcasing how I had run a series of poetry and music shows in local bars. This involved finding and negotiating with venues, sourcing performers, advertising and promoting the shows to draw an audience, and hosting events. These were all things I did for fun, not as a career move, but they turned out to be valuable experience anyway.
Don’t simply write a list of your hobbies and interests on your resume unless they are specifically relevant to the job you are applying for. Everything in your job application should be calculated to increase your chances of getting hired. Otherwise it’s just a waste of space.
However, if you have practiced some skills that can be valuable to the job in your spare time – be sure to include them. Everything you are good at, and all that you have accomplished can be relevant to future employers. Just because you weren’t being paid to do it at the time doesn’t mean it can’t pay off later for your career.