It may sound like a rookie mistake, but career coaches and HR experts agree that it's a smart idea.

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Illustration: women playing basketball
Credit: Sam Kalda

It might surprise you, but career experts say adding hobbies to your resume is a good idea. “It can paint a broader picture of who you are, especially when hiring managers are looking for a good cultural ‘fit’ for their company,” says Patti Fletcher, PhD, a leadership expert and the author of Disrupters: Success Strategies From Women Who Break the Mold. Here’s how to position your favorite free-time activities in a job search:

Don’t just list all your favorite things to do. Listening to jazz, hate-watching reality TV, or reading tear-inducing historical fiction might be your ideal free-time activities, but that won’t help your hiring case—unless you know for a fact that the interviewer also can’t get enough of The Nightingale. If so, put it on—it will open the door for you to relate on a different level.

Highlight activities you devote a lot of time to, such as a running club. “Listing a few hobbies makes for a more interesting, well-rounded candidate,” says Bucky Keady, senior vice president of talent at Meredith (the parent company of Real Simple). “Those outside interests then serve as an icebreaker during the interview and lead to a more compelling conversation.” Whether it’s a running club or your improv group, talk about how you make time for that hobby and why it’s important to you. “That alone demonstrates that you’re thoughtful and strategic with your time and energy,” says career coach Laura Garnett.

Play up volunteer activities, especially if you’ve spent time out of the workforce or are pivoting your career path. “Think about what skills you developed: project management, meeting challenges, learning new subjects,” says Fletcher.

In the interview, discuss the soft skills your hobbies have taught you. For example, your Etsy store proves you have the hustle and business acumen necessary to launch and maintain a side gig. “If you can connect the dots for the interviewer and show why the hobby makes you someone who should be hired for that job, put it on your résumé,” says Fletcher.