professional development

Why having a hobby can help your career

Myriam Robin /

It’s tempting to think we’re too busy to pursue a hobby; too caught up with work, family and the daily demands of our busy lives.

But having a hobby is far from a waste of time and is important, not only for our happiness, but for our careers. Making time each week to do something we enjoy – and for no other reason – is beneficial for even the busiest people. Pursuing a hobby encourages us to achieve a work/life balance and can help us establish useful networks with potentially valuable contacts.

Achieving a balance

“Hobbies are an important form of creative expression,” says Claire Hall, the principal life coach at Authentic Empowerment. “Just as exercise releases and increases energy in the body, creative energy also needs a form of expression. Whatever hobby we choose, it is an important aspect of our wellbeing. It can enhance our ability to relax, rest our brain and recharge our spirit.”

To ensure your hobby becomes a habit, Catherine Cunningham, the founder of The Career Consultancy, suggests making a schedule each week to make time for your interests outside of work.

“It’s about work/life balance. One of the greatest benefits is having a hobby that ties in with a schedule. You’ll be more likely to commit,” she says. “Mine is swimming, so that’s three time a week with a squad, so it can’t be changed.”

And for those already thinking they don’t have time to schedule a weekly activity, Cunningham emphasises the importance of looking after ourselves – no matter how busy we are.

“It’s about recharging, effectiveness and time management. My philosophy is, and it’s a bit corny, but our body is the vessel that holds who we are, so make sure you look after your vessel.”

Skill development and networking

According to career coach Gillian Kelly, hobbies that align directly with your career can provide benefits in terms of skill development and innovation.

“For example, the creativity of painting can be aligned with a creative job or stamp collecting can be aligned with organisational skills,” she says.

In addition having a hobby can help you build connections and establish a wider network.

“It’s about finding a shared interest, building connections and a rapport with people,” says Kelly. “That shared connection is great for interviews and networking.”

The Career Consultancy’s Cunningham says even senior executives will benefit from having a hobby because of the valuable networking opportunities.

“Having a hobby at a senior level won’t get you a job, but the more people you know in life the more networks you’ll have,” she says. “It’s another source of connecting people.”

A resume builder

Including “reading and cooking” as your interests at the end of your resume probably won’t get you noticed, but including hobbies that are relevant to the position you’re applying for could help you get the job you want.

“In America they’ll tell you not to put anything on your resume which may cause you to be excluded,” says Cunningham. “But Australians like to get a picture of people outside of work. It gives recruiters small talk, but you need to be aware that everybody, recruiters included, will use it to make judgments.

“Be very careful, like anything on your resume. View the world from the buyer’s perspective.”

The hobbies that you do decide to include on your resume should be relevant to your career or the job that you’re applying for, according to Kelly.

“The question is: Is it relevant or can it bring benefits to your career? Can it help build rapport or showcase skills?” she says. If so it’s worth including.

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Myriam Robin

Myriam Robin is a reporter for SmartCompany and its sister site LeadingCompany. She has degrees in economics, international studies and journalism. She likes writing about businesses taking risks and doing new things.

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