Of listening to music and surfing the net…

We are on a recruitment drive and so its that time of the year when I look through a lot of resumes. Most still follow the old format (which is saddening), and some try different ways to stand out from the crowd.

But there is one section that has been there from ever, and still looks the same. People don’t even know why it’s there, and so just write anything to fill in the blanks of sorts. This section is the Hobbies (or other interests) section.

Why does one have to keep this section on the resume, you may ask. Is it because it’s always been there? Maybe. But then, what if you don’t have a hobby?

As a recruiter, I often see that section quite carefully. The rest, especially responsibilities mentioned in previous roles, are at best exaggerated versions of the truth, and let’s not even mention the Skills – team player, fast learner, easy adapter(??). These are best avoided, since they do not help in any way the decision-making process.

But hobbies is different. Most neglect it, and write whatever comes to their mind – reading, traveling, listening to music and surfing the net top the list. Err…surfing the net??

Anyways, there lie in a minority a kind of people who actually have hobbies, or outside interests. Have come across stuff like martial arts (on my resume), classical dance, painting etc., which are genuine (hopefully) and give more insight into the well-roundedness of an individual. Of course, this is the initial shortlisting, but at least whets your appetite to know more.

We all look for real people, interesting people, those who have stories and are able to see beyond the job that earns them money. I look for such people, and I enjoy our conversations. And when they join, I find them to be more efficient and productive.

Anyways, here is something that I had written on the sam subject earlier. Have a dekko!

Did you know that the etymology of the word “hobby” is “hobby”, which meant a small horse?

The word then went on to become “hobby horse”, which was a wooden playhorse for children. It then began to be associated with pastimes, something that was practiced regularly but did not necessarily have a financial reward associated with it. 

When I was growing up, stamp collecting, coin collecting and making pen pals were among the top hobbies. Don’t know if they still survive, since I routinely see “surfing”, “reading” and “listening to music” as hobbies on resumes that I receive. 

But are they really hobbies, or recreation?

What’s the difference, you may ask. Well, not going by dictionary definitions, in my opinion, a hobby is something that you engage in with passion on a deeper level, while recreation is a pastime or an activity that helps you relax. Listening to music can be recreation, but certainly not a hobby. Making music can be a hobby though. 

Hobbies serve a critical purpose in the development of a human being. A child should have hobbies. Instead, parents concentrate on recreational activities. 

Yes, they are important as well, but a hobby helps a child develop a keen sense of detail and subject-matter expertise, without the pressure of performance or competition. It is doing something purely for the love of doing it, regardless of the level of expertise to be reached, or any sort of financial inventive. Pure deep work falls into the “paid” part of the same spectrum, and we all know how much that can be rewarding. 

Unfortunately, with the advent of the internet and easy access to information, hobbies seem to have taken a backseat in some cases. It is more “instantly” rewarding to surf the net and scroll through Instagram than to take up photography as a hobby for instance. The attention span that is required, and the patience and perseverance needed, are largely absent in today’s fast paced world. 

In other cases, hobbies have evolved. You don’t need to have expensive and additional equipment to be a photo hobbyist – an iPhone can serve the purpose. The advances in technology have made white-hat hacking a very popular hobby (and black-hat as well). So, maybe the forms have changed?

Regardless, a hobby is essential, and much recommended. Any hobby – whatever you feel passionate about – gardening, cooking, hiking, traveling…have at least one – and go deep into the subject. Encourage kids to take up hobbies from an early age, and give them the tools needed – show keen interest in their hobbies. You will find that their school scores also show marked improvement. 

It’s all about the human psyche – we love doing things from our own initiative – one can only get so far by forcing or pressuring an individual to do something. 

So, what’s your hobby?