A Revolving List of "Skills and Interests"


Skills & Interests have seemed like a throwaway part of a resume for a long time, like filler at the end of the page when you don't actually have enough work experience to write about. After being on the other side of the interview experience, I've realized that the Skills & Interests section actually can show a lot about the kind of person you are, and the kind of person you will be on the job.  It's a preview into any water cooler conversations you can expect to have with this person, which makes it unfortunate that most of us can't truly put what we are actually interested in (especially not in the legal profession).  It's a space that can provide a glimpse into a person's sense of humor (or lack thereof) and is also space to humblebrag about your elitism (most likely). It's also a space that should be updated as frequently as the job description sections of your resume based on the type of company you are applying to.  For example, if I'm applying to a high-ranking law firm that has a bunch of stuffy-looking old white men (most law firms) then I will probably save any humor for elsewhere.  If I'm applying to a film studio or production house, or a place that has "sense of humor" in their job qualifications, there's probably room for me to get more creative.

Until VERY recently, I had listed "author of a blog about Los Angeles pizza" in the "Skills and Interests" section of my resume. Not until SIX (6) DAYS AGO was I ever asked about this! The associate interviewing me asked if she could see it, and I obliged, no matter that I hadn't updated it in almost TWO (2) YEARS. I will say that this was a good jumping off point for the interview, because we had a lot of restaurant-interests in common.  I have however since taken such reference out, considering it's old, and replaced it with "independent films and Broadway shows."

Now that I'm out of law school, I've seen my fair share of resumes from law students looking for a job at my firm, and the "skills and interests" sections are typically the only interesting parts of their resumes.

Things that I've seen (neither my skills nor my interests):

"Literature"
Okay, honestly I wish I could put reading as a skill/interest as well, since that's the only really productive thing I like to do with my time. Saying "literature" seems like just a more elitist way to say "reading." However, this made me roll my eyes right away, and this girl also told us at her interview that she most enjoys Shakespeare. That was a definite no. Not that there's anything wrong with Shakespeare, that's just not the kind of water cooler conversation any of us here would want to have.

"Sewing"
Perhaps I'm actually just being judgmental, but really? Also "sewing" just seems like such an elementary way of describing anything. I think this girl was actually into making costumes, which is marginally better than just "sewing."  Or, she was using it as a conversation starter and it worked. Well, it worked at starting the conversation but did not end up getting her the job.

"Health Food Connoisseur"
We didn't actually ask this person about this, but honestly what could this mean? You don't go to good restaurants? You hate food? Guess we aren't going to have a lot in common! Does this mean you are vegan and didn't want to just write "being vegan" in your skills? (I wouldn't either.) Things that come to mind with the descriptor "health food": tofu, bean patties, protein bars. Perhaps acai bowls and green juices as well.

Lists (with numbers of countries traveled to, or live music shows seen)
One guy said he has gone to 13 festivals and seen over 100 musical artists. However, when we asked him about it we were all disappointed to hear that he has mostly only gone to raves and likely has just aggregated every DJ from the schedule of EDM festivals he's gone to. Also another girl said she's been to like 5 countries and 10 states. Quantifying these things honestly comes across as a little bit desperate and I would avoid this at all costs.

"Sports memorabilia"
WHAT? Does this mean you collect baseball cards or signed footballs? You like looking at them? Or do you only wear football jerseys on your off-time? Do you spend your days watching ebay to try to pick up a bat some guy used to hit his 500th home run??? I think professing a passion for one sport or one team in particular would be make more sense and a better conversation starter.

"Reading Self-Help Books"
I can't with this. This tells you exactly what kind of person this guy is.


Things that have been [and are no longer] listed in my own Skills & Interests:
Spanish 
[proficient, high school, conversational, basic, now NONE]

"Pizza connoisseur"
[my uncle reviewed my resume and made me take this out]

"Social media savvy"
[I think my uncle made me take this out too]

"Disneyland Annual Passholder"
[he definitely made me take this out]

"Author of a blog about Los Angeles pizza" 
[he would probably make me take this out, but it's still true though]

I guess there's a reason all of these things fell out of my resume, not only because Uncle Tony told me to take them out. Social media?????? We get it, I'm a millennial. Who isn't social media savvy? I'm not an annual passholder anymore, so bye to that. The pizza stuff, I still want to keep...

My current Skills & Interests section reads as follows: 
Recreational tennis, independent films and Broadway shows, loyal fan of the California Golden Bears.  

I'm also thinking about stealing a piece of Andrew's most recent skill/interest: making pizza and pasta. Because we do so together, and I think my current statement weighs a little bit too heavily on "interests" and not enough on "skills."

Wow! What an elitist chick right? That's the vibe we are supposed to send with our Skills & Interests section! Especially in the legal profession. How many of us truly have any actual skills that are cool to list on a resume? If you don't have a black belt in karate or still belong to an acapella group, what other elitist skills are there?


What I wish I could write in my Skills & Interests section: 
Tweeting; a list of reality TV shows I watch (currently watching 3 active TV series: insecure, celebrity family feud, bachelor in paradise); Designer handbags and shoes; Laying out on the beach; Reading and keeping my Goodreads account updated; Decorating; Finding deals online; Sarcasm



2 comments

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