5 Key Differences Between Hobbies and Interests

Updated March 10, 2023

As you build your resume, you should include information that is both relevant to the role and also helps you stand out to employers. Featuring your hobbies and interests on a resume is one great way to showcase your personality and skills to help hiring managers learn if you're a good fit for their company. It's important to know the difference between the two to correctly list them on your resume.

In this article, we explain what hobbies and interests are and the differences between them, and we share tips to help include them on your resume.

What is a hobby?

A hobby is an activity you may complete in your free time that brings you pleasure. Common hobbies can include collecting items, participating in a sport or activity or working on creative projects. When you're actively pursuing something outside of work hours, you're participating in a hobby. As you engage in your hobby, you're dedicating your time and energy to something you enjoy and are passionate about. Pursuing a hobby is often an ongoing experience that you can regularly commit to.

Related: How to Find Your Passion

What is an interest?

An interest is a desire or need to learn more about a specific subject. Interests can be a personal desire to learn more about an activity or to educate yourself further about a topic to improve your work performance. An interest can last a short amount of time or you can participate in it sporadically without the need to pursue it on an ongoing basis.

For example, a personal interest could be to learn more about music by studying classical artists and pieces. On a professional level, a medical student pursuing neurology as their specialty would have an interest in learning more about the human brain.

Related: List of Hobbies and Interests for Your Resume

Differences between hobbies and interests

Though you can list hobbies and interests in the same section in a resume, they have many differences, such as:

Hobbies are activities

When you're participating in a hobby, you're actively participating in an activity or sport. Interests are often feelings or desires to learn more about subjects with the potential to become activities. For example, if you're interested in theater, you can occasionally study it and attend different performances. If you regularly participate in community theater performances, you can consider it a hobby.

Hobbies are consistent

When participating in a hobby, you're usually showing a regular dedication to it. For example, if your hobby is collecting stamps, you may consistently find new stamps and continue building your collection. You can have an interest in various subjects depending on your mood, profession or attention span.

As an example, if you work as a marketing professional, you could have an interest in learning about search engine optimization best practices. You can gain a certification that teaches you more about this topic. Once you receive this certification, your interest may decrease and you may start developing an interest in a separate subject.

Interests can become hobbies

Since hobbies are activities and interests are a desire or feeling to complete or learn something, your interest can become your hobby. If you start to learn more about the subject and want to begin actively pursuing it, then it can turn into a regular hobby.

An example of this is if you study and read creative writing, then start writing creative pieces. You can consider the ongoing process of writing your own work as a hobby.

You can make an income from an interest

If you develop an interest in a certain subject or if your supervisor asks you to study a topic to improve your job performance, you can make an income from it. The same can occur if you start learning a certain subject and then create a career out of it. For example, if you're interested in history and begin studying it, you can pursue a full-time career as a historian.

You complete hobbies during your free time

You should complete hobbies during your downtime away from work. If you're making an income or participating in the activity during work hours, it's usually considered an interest rather than a hobby. Engaging in hobbies outside of work is a great way to maintain a strong work-life balance.

Participating in your hobby allows you to develop skills and challenge yourself by trying new activities. Hobbies are also an effective way to rest your brain and enjoy relaxing interests that are free from work-related tasks.

Tips when listing hobbies and interests on your resume

Follow the tips below to help you include hobbies and interests on your resume in a way that stands out to hiring managers:

Include hobbies or interests related to the role

As you include a hobbies and interests section of your resume, try to feature hobbies and interests related to the role you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for a veterinary assistant role, you can mention volunteering at humane societies on your resume as a hobby. This tells employers that you have a passion for animals and use your free time to help others, which can make you stand out from other candidates.

Related: Listing Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume (With Examples)

Remain truthful when listing hobbies and interests

It may be tempting to list hobbies and interests you're confident will impress employers. Try to remain truthful when mentioning these, and only include them if you participate in or study the subject or activity you're mentioning. Hiring managers may ask you more about these interests and hobbies to gain an idea of the experience you have. You should prepare to expand on these hobbies and interests during your interview in case the employer wants to learn more about it.

Related: Interview Question: "What Are Your Hobbies and Interests?"

Use hobbies and interests to fill any gaps on your resume

If you have recently graduated and hold little experience and skills or if there are any gaps in your employment, you can include a hobbies and interests section. This is a great way to add extra information to your resume to help employers learn more about who you are. Hobbies and interests also allow hiring managers to gain an idea of what you may be like outside of work to see how well you may fit in with their team members.

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