Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interests, Hobbies and Community Involvement

In college I remember writing my first resume. The career center gave out an employment guide, and it had several samples of resumes that would be appropriate for a recent graduate. One of the last items on several of them was Interests and Hobbies. While I don't encourage people to put this down on a professional resume, many of the resumes I receive do list this. It is interesting to see some of the pastimes people list. I didn't know what a luthier was until someone listed it as a hobby. Making stringed instruments does sound like fun.

Something I encourage you to list however is community involvement activities. Being active in non-profit and other community organizations can be very rewarding, as I wrote about in a past blog post. Everyone moans about the lack of time they have. Charitable organizations and community programs often need talented individuals to oversee their operations and help promote them. Not everyone wants to participate in volunteer activities, and this is a way you can differentiate yourself from them. By getting involved and participating in your community you are helping others and showing your willingness to share your talents and time.

If you are volunteering, put that information on your resume. List how long you have been active with each organization, and any positions you held on boards, committees or projects. These items are very telling to future employers about you and create a robust profile of your skills, interests and commitments. I think many companies would like to have an active contributor who can interact with people in various ways and is working to improve things for others.

Nor sure where you could help out? Start by looking at organizations in your industry and within your field of expertise. If you are a seasoned business owner, the Small Business Association has many programs you can help out with. If you are a college alumni, contact the alumni association to find out where they might need your assistance. Looking for something local? Many city and counties have volunteer needs and list them on their websites. When you are out in your community and see a volunteer project, ask them what they are doing and how you can join. Charitable organizations have lots of volunteer opportunities, and list them on their websites. Meetup.com also lists lots of opportunities on their website, and has been very helpful for finding projects here in Sacramento. For all you parents of school-age children, those schools can use your help. Contact your child's teacher and find out how you can help.

And participation leads to other opportunities too. I started out planning a school garden project and quickly got involved with the UC Davis school garden group. Then I was enlisted in another garden project, and now am starting an urban farm project with the local food bank. It is very rewarding to get involved with like minded people. And your community involvement can be helpful in your career as well.

Try it, you might like it. And then make sure you put it on your resume.