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I don't have much room on my resume and I am struggling with the Interests section. I assume big firms don't care that much but I am also applying to a couple small firms that seem to care more.

 

Would it be better to just mention one or two interests and go more in depth?  For example: "Travel: visited 25 countries". Or better to list more interests i.e. "Skiing, crossword puzzles, baking". Is there any way to make the Interests section seem less boring? The way I have it makes it seem like a bit of a throwaway.

 

Please help me sound like less of a basic bitch :D

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I had interests at the bottom of my resume but I removed them to keep it one page. One firm thanked me for keeping it one page but then asked me about my interests, assuming that that is what I had done. If you have space, add it, but I think if the firm is interested they will probably just ask. That being said, I've never reviewed resumes for a firm so I have no idea. 

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I have three interests on my resume. Bullet point for each and a quick description/ interesting fact about each of them, something which gives interviewer something to ask you about (ie visited 25 countries). The section is called interests, but you should really think about them as conversation starters instead. 

I also wouldnt presume big firms dont care about interests. 

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21 minutes ago, Starling said:

I don't have much room on my resume and I am struggling with the Interests section. I assume big firms don't care that much but I am also applying to a couple small firms that seem to care more.

 

Would it be better to just mention one or two interests and go more in depth?  For example: "Travel: visited 25 countries". Or better to list more interests i.e. "Skiing, crossword puzzles, baking". Is there any way to make the Interests section seem less boring? The way I have it makes it seem like a bit of a throwaway.

 

Please help me sound like less of a basic bitch :D

[emphasis added]

TL;DR: read only bold.

My experience is not current, so take it with a grain of salt.

If you're a woman, or overweight, or both, perhaps don't list baking? Nothing suggesting sugar and spice and everything nice unless you're truly bitchy... :twisted:

Be honest, but don't have to list everything. List 3 things, one athletic, one intellectual, and one fun, that you can talk about interestingly with those familiar or not familiar with them (practice on friends and family if necessary). So if an interviewer wants to talk about something other than law, you can, and show how interesting and pleasant you are. Except for my concern about baking (seriously, I wasn't just making a joke, it's unfair but a woman listing knitting or sewing or baking compared to a man doing so, will there be an unconscious stereotypical attitude? But I'm a man, so don't know firsthand), your 3 seem reasonable. Though I think I recall one interviewer commenting that someone who went to UBC or UVic had listed skiing as an interest, and since they were applying in Toronto they got grilled on that (why would a skiier want to leave BC?).

Travel might merely make you sound privileged. I met someone who had travelled to over 100 countries, for them to list it made sense because that's seriously unusual. But 25 countries doesn't sound huge to me (which may be a sign of privilege? Not that I've been to that many myself, but I think 15-20 so 25 doesn't sound like a lot?). So it's both not impressive, and might annoy someone not widely travelled?

Also, not to overthink, but perhaps fight negative stereotypes with your choice (hence my baking warning) - someone who was worried about discrimination because they had an accent, might (if truthful!) list hockey or golf if a genuine interest and sport they participated in, i.e. in terms of demonstrating fitting-in qualities (whether or not one should do so is a more complicated question discussed elsewhere on this board). Though I've also read about people deliberately listing e.g. interests or volunteer activities related to LGBT or a religion or something because they wanted someone uncomfortable not to interview or hire them, to try to get a better fit?

I listed fencing as an interest (and in my law school section, because I was a varsity athlete) and almost every interviewer asked me about it, because it was something different from the typical interests they saw. Some even asked me how they could get started (I'd checked on beginner fencing classes with equipment provided in Toronto and so could tell them). And I'd practiced with family and friends how to briefly describe how it worked with electrical scoring. Though some interviewer were really seriously interested and wanted to talk for 15-20 minutes, which I could. But because I'd listed fencing, I didn't also list archery, as they might have thought that was getting too weird with weapons...:rolleyes:

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34 minutes ago, WinCity said:

I had interests at the bottom of my resume but I removed them to keep it one page. One firm thanked me for keeping it one page but then asked me about my interests, assuming that that is what I had done. If you have space, add it, but I think if the firm is interested they will probably just ask. That being said, I've never reviewed resumes for a firm so I have no idea. 

I agree with the (much briefer than me) Constant, except re the travel thing and I'd do one line not 3 bulleted lines, but generally agree. Interests is only going to be one line (not including spacing/heading) but how much is the typical law student going to have that they can't, with some editing and formatting, make space for something that may be much more interesting to them than anything else on the page?

EDIT: re the discussion of crosswords, agreeing with @providence re specificity, and honesty, if you say you like doing the X crossword, have that day's on your phone or in your pocket/purse, and have worked on it before the interview. Not in an interview setting, just networking, ended up comparing answers to that day's puzzle with another lawyer.

Edited by epeeist

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49 minutes ago, Starling said:

I don't have much room on my resume and I am struggling with the Interests section. I assume big firms don't care that much but I am also applying to a couple small firms that seem to care more.

 

Would it be better to just mention one or two interests and go more in depth?  For example: "Travel: visited 25 countries". Or better to list more interests i.e. "Skiing, crossword puzzles, baking". Is there any way to make the Interests section seem less boring? The way I have it makes it seem like a bit of a throwaway.

 

Please help me sound like less of a basic bitch :D

I believe at least some big firms do care. 

You can't fake interests at the last minute - kind of like the law school applicants who realize their grades aren't great in 3rd year and join a bunch of clubs; it's pretty transparent. 

I don't think travel is boring, but I think it is a pretty common interest a lot of students have. Crossword puzzles and baking aren't anything earth-shattering either, but I don't think they hurt you. Skiing is good. I would put some details as to where you do it, what levels you have in it, etc. I think details in general do make it less boring, as long as you have space for them - ie. if you have taken baking courses, or won awards in it, that elevates it from just throwing flour in a pan and shoving it in your oven at home every weekend. If you like crosswords, state which ones (ie. New York Times) and maybe a goal ie. to finish the NYT crossword in half an hour, or whatever.

(I am jealous of your 25 countries. I would want to talk about that lots!)

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I deleted my interests section over a year ago to keep my resume to 2 pages.

I'm happy I saw this thread. I honestly assumed that interests would be the first section to cut, and that it wouldn't matter at all. Very surprised to hear that travelling is considered a legitimate interest for a resume.. 

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5 minutes ago, epeeist said:

[emphasis added]

TL;DR: read only bold.

My experience is not current, so take it with a grain of salt.

If you're a woman, or overweight, or both, perhaps don't list baking? Nothing suggesting sugar and spice and everything nice unless you're truly bitchy... :twisted:

Be honest, but don't have to list everything. List 3 things, one athletic, one intellectual, and one fun, that you can talk about interestingly with those familiar or not familiar with them (practice on friends and family if necessary). So if an interviewer wants to talk about something other than law, you can, and show how interesting and pleasant you are. Except for my concern about baking (seriously, I wasn't just making a joke, it's unfair but a woman listing knitting or sewing or baking compared to a man doing so, will there be an unconscious stereotypical attitude? But I'm a man, so don't know firsthand), your 3 seem reasonable. Though I think I recall one interviewer commenting that someone who went to UBC or UVic had listed skiing as an interest, and since they were applying in Toronto they got grilled on that (why would a skiier want to leave BC?).

Travel might merely make you sound privileged. I met someone who had travelled to over 100 countries, for them to list it made sense because that's seriously unusual. But 25 countries doesn't sound huge to me (which may be a sign of privilege? Not that I've been to that many myself, but I think 15-20 so 25 doesn't sound like a lot?). So it's both not impressive, and might annoy someone not widely travelled?

Also, not to overthink, but perhaps fight negative stereotypes with your choice (hence my baking warning) - someone who was worried about discrimination because they had an accent, might (if truthful!) list hockey or golf if a genuine interest and sport they participated in, i.e. in terms of demonstrating fitting-in qualities (whether or not one should do so is a more complicated question discussed elsewhere on this board). Though I've also read about people deliberately listing e.g. interests or volunteer activities related to LGBT or a religion or something because they wanted someone uncomfortable not to interview or hire them, to try to get a better fit?

I listed fencing as an interest (and in my law school section, because I was a varsity athlete) and almost every interviewer asked me about it, because it was something different from the typical interests they saw. Some even asked me how they could get started (I'd checked on beginner fencing classes with equipment provided in Toronto and so could tell them). And I'd practiced with family and friends how to briefly describe how it worked with electrical scoring. Though some interviewer were really seriously interested and wanted to talk for 15-20 minutes, which I could. But because I'd listed fencing, I didn't also list archery, as they might have thought that was getting too weird with weapons...:rolleyes:

Ouch! This is harsh! But probably, sadly, realistic. 

I used to think travel was a sign of privilege, but I have talked to lots of people who backpacked on a shoestring or worked abroad, so now I realize it depends how you travel. If that's a concern, you could mention "backpacked to 25 countries" or "worked abroad and travelled to 25 countries" (unless mommy and daddy really did pay for the trips, of course.) 

I personally tried not to put any interests that made my ethnicity, culture, religion etc apparent, though I realize that's not completely possible, and I also didn't put things that I thought would stereotype me - ie. I used to model but I did not put that on my resume for obvious reasons. Luckily I had used that to segue a little bit into acting for commercials and stuff so I put "acting." 

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1 minute ago, WindsorHopeful said:

I deleted my interests section over a year ago to keep my resume to 2 pages.

I'm happy I saw this thread. I honestly assumed that interests would be the first section to cut, and that it wouldn't matter at all. Very surprised to hear that travelling is considered a legitimate interest for a resume.. 

I don't think you need them for a professional resume. I probably wouldn't put them on my resume now,  and certainly not at the expense of professional accomplishments, and I would think that most established lawyers would only put interests on if they are truly substantial ie. award winning, nationally recognized etc. and even then would have to be careful that this wouldn't make them look less committed to work. They can be helpful for students however as a way to distinguish them - if they are a B student, did a clinic and were president of an undergrad club, they're like every other law student. If they're a champion fencer or pianist or taught themself 5 languages or volunteer 15 hours a week for a charity all during the school year, they can make themselves stand out. Interviewers generally aren't expecting law students to have a whole bunch of professional accomplishments, cases won etc to discuss, so it is nice for them to have some talking points by which to make connections with students and give them a chance to show their personalities.

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Sorry, probably should have mentioned that the interests I listed were random examples - I actually don't do baking (seriously, I am probably the worst baker of all time).

 

Travel is something I do, but I have only been to 15 countries which seems like enough to make me sound privileged but not enough to be noteworthy. So I probably won't be putting that on my resume.

 

My actual interests would probably be outdoor sports like hiking/backpacking/rock climbing and running (I am training to do some races). I do read a lot but I feel like that is a boring interest and I do enjoy crosswords (not very good at them though). I am pretty into cooking and have done classes etc. as well.

 

I feel like I will seem pretty one-dimensional if I just list outdoorsy things but maybe I am overthinking it.

Edited by Starling

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9 minutes ago, Starling said:

My actual interests would probably be outdoor sports like hiking/backpacking/rock climbing and running (I am training to do some races). I do read a lot but I feel like that is a boring interest and I do enjoy crosswords (not very good at them though).

If you go with "being outdoors" or "reading", be specific. What do you read specifically? Mystery, sci fi, history, politics, philosophy. We're law students, a lot of us probably "read". Same with being outdoors. I like being outdoors, but by that I mean I like to sit in the sun and enjoy the breeze and the fresh air while I read. That is very different than rockclimbing. This is also how you make generic mundane hobbies more interesting. 

This is a mistake people make with "travelling" I feel. Do you like seeing the sights? meeting the locals? backpacking up mountains? and why do you like doing those things? does it give you perspective? do you like pushing yourself? 

 

I dunno but if I read "travelling" or "reading" in a resume section I would not have learned anything about the person. 

Edited by WinCity

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8 minutes ago, WinCity said:

If you go with "being outdoors" or "reading", be specific. What do you read specifically? Mystery, sci fi, history, politics, philosophy. We're law students, a lot of us probably "read". Same with being outdoors. I like being outdoors, but by that I mean I like to sit in the sun and enjoy the breeze and the fresh air while I read. That is very different than rockclimbing. This is also how you make generic mundane hobbies more interesting. 

This is a mistake people make with "travelling" I feel. Do you like seeing the sights? meeting the locals? backpacking up mountains? and why do you like doing those things? does it give you perspective? do you like pushing yourself? 

 

I dunno but if I read "travelling" or "reading" in a resume section I would not have learned anything about the person. 

Haha good points. Thank you :)

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34 minutes ago, epeeist said:

[emphasis added]

TL;DR: read only bold.

My experience is not current, so take it with a grain of salt.

If you're a woman, or overweight, or both, perhaps don't list baking? Nothing suggesting sugar and spice and everything nice unless you're truly bitchy... :twisted:

Be honest, but don't have to list everything. List 3 things, one athletic, one intellectual, and one fun, that you can talk about interestingly with those familiar or not familiar with them (practice on friends and family if necessary). So if an interviewer wants to talk about something other than law, you can, and show how interesting and pleasant you are. Except for my concern about baking (seriously, I wasn't just making a joke, it's unfair but a woman listing knitting or sewing or baking compared to a man doing so, will there be an unconscious stereotypical attitude? But I'm a man, so don't know firsthand), your 3 seem reasonable. Though I think I recall one interviewer commenting that someone who went to UBC or UVic had listed skiing as an interest, and since they were applying in Toronto they got grilled on that (why would a skiier want to leave BC?).

Travel might merely make you sound privileged. I met someone who had travelled to over 100 countries, for them to list it made sense because that's seriously unusual. But 25 countries doesn't sound huge to me (which may be a sign of privilege? Not that I've been to that many myself, but I think 15-20 so 25 doesn't sound like a lot?). So it's both not impressive, and might annoy someone not widely travelled?

Also, not to overthink, but perhaps fight negative stereotypes with your choice (hence my baking warning) - someone who was worried about discrimination because they had an accent, might (if truthful!) list hockey or golf if a genuine interest and sport they participated in, i.e. in terms of demonstrating fitting-in qualities (whether or not one should do so is a more complicated question discussed elsewhere on this board). Though I've also read about people deliberately listing e.g. interests or volunteer activities related to LGBT or a religion or something because they wanted someone uncomfortable not to interview or hire them, to try to get a better fit?

I listed fencing as an interest (and in my law school section, because I was a varsity athlete) and almost every interviewer asked me about it, because it was something different from the typical interests they saw. Some even asked me how they could get started (I'd checked on beginner fencing classes with equipment provided in Toronto and so could tell them). And I'd practiced with family and friends how to briefly describe how it worked with electrical scoring. Though some interviewer were really seriously interested and wanted to talk for 15-20 minutes, which I could. But because I'd listed fencing, I didn't also list archery, as they might have thought that was getting too weird with weapons...:rolleyes:

Thank you so much for the detailed response. I will list my more niche interests then since I have limited space. That is so cool that you were a varsity fencer.

 

And don't worry, I don't actually bake but if I did, I probably wouldn't list it either since I agree that the perception could be problematic. Do you think cooking has the same connotations?

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Starling said:

Sorry, probably should have mentioned that the interests I listed were random examples - I actually don't do baking (seriously, I am probably the worst baker of all time).

 

Travel is something I do, but I have only been to 15 countries which seems like enough to make me sound privileged but not enough to be noteworthy. So I probably won't be putting that on my resume.

 

My actual interests would probably be outdoor sports like hiking/backpacking/rock climbing and running (I am training to do some races). I do read a lot but I feel like that is a boring interest and I do enjoy crosswords (not very good at them though). I am pretty into cooking and have done classes etc. as well.

 

I feel like I will seem pretty one-dimensional if I just list outdoorsy things but maybe I am overthinking it.

I agree - if you read, be specific. If you read biographies of American presidents, or classic Russian novels, now this is something people can talk about with you, whereas, as has been said, everyone "reads." (Or hopefully, they do!) Reading is not boring at all! I was often asked in interviews what the last book was that I read, and interviewers told me that they were disconcerted that so many students did not have a good answer.

Outdoor sports are not boring either, but a lot of people hike, back pack etc. If you are training for races, specify the races, your times, etc. I think that that's impressive. Cooking classes are good too - again, what kind of food can you make, where were the classes etc. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Starling said:

Sorry, probably should have mentioned that the interests I listed were random examples - I actually don't do baking (seriously, I am probably the worst baker of all time).

 

Travel is something I do, but I have only been to 15 countries which seems like enough to make me sound privileged but not enough to be noteworthy. So I probably won't be putting that on my resume.

 

My actual interests would probably be outdoor sports like hiking/backpacking/rock climbing and running (I am training to do some races). I do read a lot but I feel like that is a boring interest and I do enjoy crosswords (not very good at them though). I am pretty into cooking and have done classes etc. as well.

[emphasis added]

TL;DR: again only bold

Hmm. Good at cooking but not baking suggests you're not good at precision, following detailed instructions correctly, or keeping track of time and deadlines, but have learned to improvise and cover up mistakes? :twisted:

Sorry, could't resist. But trying to be more helpful, if you run at least one race, you could list e.g. "Running (most recent Scotiabank 10K)" instead of just e.g. "Running" and still fit 3 interest on one line. That is, I think within reason being specific is good, as @providence noted re crosswords, and pointing to a specific measure (even if just, you participated in an organized competition and finished) is a good thing. Whereas, and in fairness I'm not an outdoor person, hiking/backpacking/running alone don't sound interesting. Or if you do rock climbing, I think that's impressive on its own, not needing more, but if asked, you should be prepared to say e.g. your most recent free climb was last summer El Capitan in Yosemite or whatever (that's from a Google search, I get disturbed even from the heights in the current Mission Impossible movie which I saw in 4DX - is it knowing it's practical stunts not green screen that makes a difference, or something subtle in how it looks when not greenscreen?).

Also I'd think not more than one outside athletic activity normally? And does cooking extend to a particular interest in a particular cuisine, or are you into wine and can you talk about it?

You may not want to be too revealing here, I mean, be honest but also impressive and have something that shows you're an athletic person who can deal with stress (rock climbing) with some client-related interest (winetasting, gourmet food, whatever) and brains (more specific than just crosswords - if not specific like NYT, do you like cryptic crosswords?).

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Just from a quick search, I found the sample resumes from Fasken's interesting:

https://www.fasken.com/-/media/36702b99d09840069aa4821849782419.ashx?la=en&hash=083FA83A6314149211B8AA76DA022FBD4E78812D&hash=083FA83A6314149211B8AA76DA022FBD4E78812D

I wouldn't spend nearly so much space on interests, I'd put multiple languages more prominently than at the end in interests, I wouldn't put "Avid baker" (that's the first Jane Doe resume...), or "Aspiring traveller", etc., but I'm a PT solo and they're a large law firm, so make of it what you will (they have their own disclaimer). But generally, they do tend to be more specific including (if travel) where, etc.

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1 hour ago, Starling said:

Please help me sound like less of a basic bitch :D

 

Agree with most of the above, particularly about specifying your interests into niche categories. Seems trite to say, but the best way to not being a basic bitch is by not being basic.

Using baking as an example, sure that is basic and ubiquitous. We all bake; throwing a DiGiorno in the oven is baking. But if you're a hobbyist macaron- or soufflé-maker then put that. Similarly with running, instead of just typing "running" like pretty much every able-legged person, put "competitive marathonist" if that's what you do (and if all you do is actually just run sometimes, then leave it off. It's boring.) 

The more niche your interests, the more likely it will come up in the interview. Like movies? Who cares. Like early French film noir? Hmm, interesting (though note that you don't want to come off as too snobby or precious). Like video games? Lame. Into retro side-scrolling shooter video games? Much better. Play Baseball? What position. Write poetry? What kind. Play music? Snore. What instrument? What kind of music do you play on it? 

Now, whether you should be including those specific interests is another question entirely. For example, you may not want to disclose video game passion or that you're a reality show enthusiast if you're applying somewhere that skews a bit older. Know your audience. But certainly, I'd recommend that the more generic your interests are, the more it is not worth the resume space.

 

Edited by FineCanadianFXs
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In my experience, for my student interviews and my associate interviews - almost every firm spent a good amount of time asking about the interests listed on my CV (I had three bullet points - i.e.: interest - 6-7 word description). 

They were diverse interests which were not typical (i.e. not "traveling" or "exercise") they were specific and different - for example: rebuilding muscle cars - recently presented at x car show (that's not my actual interest but that's a good example). 

Choose your interests wisely - it's something that can separate you from other candidates and they will likely come up on your interview. 

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The interests section on your resume can be the most important part.  Everyone does Law Review and clinic work, and we learn virtually nothing about you as a person by asking you about those things.  Interests tend to get people to open up and get excited, to show a bit more of their personality.  I always ask about the interests on the resume.

That is, unless your interests are travelling, reading and cooking like everyone else's, in which case I struggle to find a question I can ask you that won't end in me saying "oh that sounds cool" once you're done answering.

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6 minutes ago, Uriel said:

The interests section on your resume can be the most important part.  Everyone does Law Review and clinic work, and we learn virtually nothing about you as a person by asking you about those things.  Interests tend to get people to open up and get excited, to show a bit more of their personality.  I always ask about the interests on the resume.

That is, unless your interests are travelling, reading and cooking like everyone else's, in which case I struggle to find a question I can ask you that won't end in me saying "oh that sounds cool" once you're done answering.

The ones I would find generic without anything more are: travelling, reading, running, working out, weight lifting, cooking, watching movies/TV, watching sports, scrapbooking. 

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