More Candidates Are Listing Lockdown Hobbies on Their Resumes. Don’t Dismiss Them Outright.

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Often, when candidates don’t have a lot of job experience that is directly relevant to the role at hand, they’ll apply with a resume that focuses heavily on transferable skills. For example, a candidate who has never worked in sales before might use their experience managing a fundraiser for their kid’s sports team to show off their customer service skills.

Honestly, transferable skills resumes are great for an employer: Instead of a keyword-stuffed mess, you’ll get more insightful, skills-based information.

More recently, however, the transferable skills candidates list on their resumes have been looking different than usual. Some might mention games, gardening, or even learning an instrument — things that are much harder to connect to a role than running a fundraiser might be.

The reason for this shift in skills? The pandemic. Many lost their jobs, leaving employment gaps on their resumes. They couldn’t fill those gaps through traditional means, like volunteering, thanks to the lockdowns. So, as people return to the job market, they’re choosing to emphasize the skills they picked up during their time away from work.

Many individuals are in this position. According to a recent survey of 750 American adults, 33 percent turned to arts and crafts during the pandemic, 33 percent played board games, 30 percent started DIY projects, and 21 percent baked.

While it may feel strange to see something like “learned to meditate” on a resume, don’t toss it out just to narrow down the mountain of candidates. These nontraditional skills really can tell you something about a candidate. Here are four things you can learn from the pandemic hobbies a person includes on their resume:

1. They Are Disciplined Enough to Teach Themselves

Teaching yourself something takes work. You must stick to your goals, actively seek out knowledge, and have lots of patience. All of these are valuable qualities in the workplace. According to LinkedIn, project management and learning and development are among the most in-demand skills right now — and teaching yourself something new requires a little of both.

Regardless of whether the hobby itself is relevant to the position, a candidate’s commitment to learning something proves they have the will to try new things and move outside of their comfort zone.

2. They Don’t Give Up After Failing

When learning something new, a person is bound to fail a few times. If you want to get really good at a board game, you’ll inevitably lose several times along the way. If you try your hand at DIY furniture, the first piece you make probably won’t be your best. You can be confident that those who now take pride in their pandemic hobbies have the fortitude to keep trying when the going gets tough.

To get from these initial failures to their current successes, these candidates had to solve some problems. When they made mistakes, they had to analyze the steps that led them to their mistakes, find ways to improve, and test new solutions.

They also had to research. When trying a new task you haven’t encountered before, intuitively identifying solutions isn’t easy. These candidates likely scoured the internet for trustworthy bloggers, YouTubers, and other experts to get the help they needed to take their skills to the next level.

These are definitely qualities to look for in potential hires. Returning to the LinkedIn research cited above, problem-solving skills and digital literacy are among the most sought-after skills today.

3. They Believe in Themselves

You definitely want to hire people who believe in themselves. According to research from ResumeLab, people who believe in themselves are also more likely to believe in their coworkers and managers, and that’s great for team motivation and morale.

While there is a big difference between trusting in your own ability when working on a hobby and convincing yourself you can competently fulfill a job’s expectations, there is a transferable element here. People who succeed in their hobbies are likely more self-confident overall because they have proof they can accomplish difficult tasks when they put their minds to it. Plus, experiencing success after those initial failures (as we discussed above) is sure to give a person a major confidence boost.

4. They Find Meaning in Each Day

Sitting in front of the TV shows for hours on end would have been an easy way to kill time when the world shut down, and that was what a lot of people did (and needed!). On the other hand, those who pushed themselves to stay busy and find creative outlets — in addition to a little TV time, of course — have shown extra resilience.

People who reference their pandemic hobbies on their resumes had the willpower to do something with themselves when it would’ve been far easier to stay curled up in bed all day. Candidates with that kind of drive are assets to any team. They are probably less likely than any other candidate to spend the workday lounging around and avoiding tasks. By pursuing a new hobby in such a difficult time, they’ve demonstrated they will give their all to make meaning in their life — and that includes making an impact at your organization.

Karyn Mullins is president of Connect with Karyn on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

By Karyn Mullins