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What is a career statement, and should you write one?

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What is a career statement?

Why are career statements important, how to write a career statement, career statement examples.

Start writing

There’s value in living in the present. Checking off a list of to-dos. But when you take each moment as it comes, never turning your attention to the future, the days — and your career — grow stagnant.

Writing a career statement can help.

We know we’re throwing another assignment on your plate when it’s already full. But writing this statement isn’t time-consuming and will help you progress toward real growth.

And if you haven’t taken the time to write down your professional goals, a career goal statement is a good exercise to tackle before jumping in on your career statement.

This might sound like too much work, but it’s well worth it. Studies have shown people who write down their goals are 76% likely to achieve them versus 43% for those who don’t . Dedicating a little time to writing a goal statement today can go a long way toward bettering your tomorrow.

We’ll make it easier with a template. But first, let’s look at what exactly a career statement is — and why we think it’s a valuable tool for professionals.

Think of your career statement as an aspiration statement tailored to your professional goals. Aspiration statements express what you’re hoping to achieve in the future and describe your vision for the next chapter of your life. 

Think of them as the end of your life plan: your statement should highlight your dreams, encourage your ambitions, and provide an ideal outcome for your action plan. It’s a few sentences or a short paragraph outlining what you want to accomplish in the future.

Sounds simple enough, right? For career statements, you’re focusing those aspirations on your professional goals and intended career path. A career statement demands you to research what you need to accomplish those goals, as it depends on specific information. It needs specific dates, desired job titles or companies, locations, skills required, and more. 

(D2C) BetterUp Blog - elevate potential_half size_v1

Career statements keep your objectives top of mind. They never let you lose sight of your long-term goals and why you want to achieve them. Thanks to this focus, a career statement helps you visualize your career path, like a roadmap to success.

Writing a career statement can help you tackle three of the resources key to achieving your goals: 

  • Motivation: What will make you spring out of bed and continue putting in a consistent effort? Increasing your motivation fuels your need to make your career aspirations a reality.
  • Direction: How do you see yourself developing your career ? Do you need to go back to school, move to another city, or network more? Direction gives you a clear understanding of the moves you need to make to achieve your goals.
  • Accountability: Goals are great, but who’s holding you to them? Fostering accountability will keep your professional development goals top of mind and help you stay dedicated to them. 


There’s beauty in this journey. Goal-setting can reveal things you didn’t know about yourself, teaching you new skills and helping your well-being along the way. It’s been linked to:

  • Higher motivation and ambition to succeed
  • Stronger resilience
  • Higher self-esteem 
  • Greater self-confidence
  • More independence and autonomy

Career statements and goal setting go hand in hand. They build off each other to help you turn your dreams into your reality. 

You’re not likely to knock out your career statement in five minutes. It takes time — depending on how clearly defined your career goals are. Don’t rush the process.

If you run into writer's block or can't decide what goals you want to set , take a break. You might find time for a self-discovery journey to help you understand where you’d like your life to go.

Planning out your career doubles as a great self-discovery technique , too: you can ask yourself what you’d like your work-life balance to be, if you want to work remotely, where you want to live, if you want to be a manager, and more.  

When you’re ready to begin, follow these six steps:

1. Think about your passions and purpose

Your passions and purpose guide your life. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted two-thirds of US employees to reflect on their life’s purpose , with 70% of respondents reporting their purpose is tied to their work. Passions and purpose are a great place first place to look to help identify what goals you want to accomplish.

Example: “My passion is storytelling and writing.”


2. Do plenty of research

This step won’t take long if you’re already clear on what you want. But if you have no idea what professional aspirations will enrich your life, dedicate time to research.

Reach out to people in your network for a chat. Expand your knowledge about your industry, learn the requirements for the jobs that interest you, and familiarize yourself with potential roadblocks. Research will give you the knowledge you need for the planning and execution stages.

Example: “I’m interested in writing a fictional novel and working with a local publisher.”

3. Test the waters 

This is a time for curiosity, intentionality, and reflection. Put your research to the test. If you want to change careers, go to a seminar about your target industry. You might be bored to tears, which could indicate you need to modify your plans.

Ask yourself questions along the way — are you staying engaged with the topics you’re learning about? How do your body and mind feel as you turn in this new direction?

Example: “I’ve written a storyboard, and it’s made me feel excited and motivated, so I’d like to continue and take the next step.”

4. Use the SMART goal template

The SMART goals model will help you set realistic goals . SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This model provides a template that keeps you organized and lets you visualize your goals more clearly.

You should have a pretty good handle on your goals by now. And if you find that your initial goal doesn't work well after listing the different elements, don’t be afraid to make changes — without adaptability, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. As you grow and move down your career path, your goals might shift. That’s perfectly fine. 

Example: “I plan on pitching a 300-page novel by the end of this month to three different publishers in my community. I’ll pitch my novel to their fiction team and take notes when they provide any feedback.”


5. Solidify your action plan

So you’ve explored the things that matter to you, spent time researching and experimenting, and defined your goals. Now, it's time to make a solid action plan. Take a moment to think about each step you'll take. Do you need to further your education, work on your communication skills, or find a mentor?

Planning ahead has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and make responsibilities feel less overwhelming . Mapping out your steps will eliminate potential stressors and procrastination. 

Example: “I’m going to create a timeline for myself to write the novel, including the brainstorming, writing, and revising process. This will help keep me on pace and focused on each section as it comes.”

6. Make adjustments when needed

You've put tons of effort into creating an actionable, well-thought-out career statement. But sometimes life throws a curve ball. Challenges arise, obstacles you may have no control over.

Adopt a growth mindset that welcomes learning from your mistakes and changing your plan when necessary. Adapting to change will help you achieve your goals, not hinder them. 

Example: “My pitch hasn’t been picked up by any of the publishers I’ve pitched my story to, so I’m widening my circle to publishers from other communities. I’ve learned from my network to be more specific with my pitches and to explain more about myself.”

Career statements differ depending on your goals, industry, and lifestyle. Your life purpose could be tied to working with nonprofit organizations or climbing the ladder in the tech industry. Whatever your professional aspirations, your career statement should reflect them.


Here are three career statement examples to inspire you:

  • I’ll be a full-time writer in two years. I'll start as a freelance writer and build up my portfolio, expand my network, and tune in to workshops and seminars about writing. I'll dedicate 30 minutes each week to reading great pieces of writing, and I'll be ready to do some problem-solving when editors give me feedback. 
  • I'm going to be my own boss and open a café next year. I’ll create a welcoming new culture within my café that values kindness, compassion, and respect. I'll further my existing business knowledge by taking marketing classes and talking to people within my industry about the financial costs of entrepreneurship.
  • I'll be promoted to sales manager within two years. I'll focus on improving my leadership and communication skills by listening to feedback from my manager. I'll also continue to learn more about sales since it's my big interest and passion and become familiar with my soon-to-be managerial responsibilities.

Start writing 

We’ve outlined the steps and benefits of writing a career statement. Now it’s time to invest in your future and start writing. 

When you’re happy with your career statement, put it somewhere you'll notice each day. If you wrote it up by hand or printed out a copy, stick it on your fridge or bathroom mirror, or hang it above your desk.

If you went digital, set your statement as your phone’s lock screen. Keep it close. It'll remind you of what you're working toward — and what you’ve already achieved by putting your goals and plans into words.

Give your statement another read when you're feeling down or unmotivated. They're yours for the taking.

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Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

Do goal statements actually work? Find out here

10 personal brand statements to put all eyes on you, effective problem statements have these 5 components, stand out to your hiring panel with a personal value statement, how to craft an impactful company mission statement, life purpose: the inspiration you need to find your drive, are you being passed over for a promotion here’s what to do, build the career you want. these 12 books will show you how, 4 steps to create a personal vision statement and change your life, similar articles, how to write a leave of absence letter (plus template), writing a value statement: your guide to keeping your team aligned, habit stacking: what it is and 5 examples, purpose, mission, vision: what drives what, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

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6 Common Career Goals + Examples

Use these examples of career goals to practice how you might answer the interview question, "What are your career goals?"

[Featured image] A scientist works toward his career goals while writing out formulas on a glass panel.

Many people may be interested in your career goals , but two parties (other than you) will be particularly invested in your idea of success: your potential employers and your current employer.

A potential employer may ask you about your goals in an interview—either directly or with the similarly popular, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” For a potential employer, knowing your goals can help them understand how a role fits into your career vision and how well that vision aligns with the company’s needs.

Your current employer started investing in your career goals from the moment they hired you, and the topic may come up during performance reviews. A supportive employer takes an active interest in helping you move toward your goals, which is beneficial both for you and for them.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at these common examples of career goals:

Advancing to a leadership position

Becoming a thought leader

Working toward professional development

Shifting into a new career path

Experiencing career stability

Creating a career goal

What is a career goal?

A career goal is the ideal state that you aim for in your professional life. Career goals can be characterized as short-term or long-term, depending on how much time you anticipate working toward achieving your goal. Ultimately, achieving your short-term and long-term career goals will bring you closer to your career aspirations .

6 career goals examples

Below, you’ll find some examples of potential career goals and some ideas on how you might structure your short-term and long-term goals around these ultimate aims.

We'll also outline how you might talk about each goal. Whether you’re discussing your career goals during an interview or a performance review, aim to include these three pieces of information:

Your short-term and long-term goals

The steps you’re taking to achieve them

How those goals connect to your role and company (in an interview, this would be your future role and company, and in a performance review, this would be your current role and company)

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1. Advance to a leadership position.

Your specific path toward a leadership role greatly depends on your industry and where you’re starting out, and it can take many years to accomplish. Along the way, you may aim to accomplish some of these goals:

Short-term goals: Gain necessary experience with entry- and mid-level positions, attend leadership training, set up informational interviews with potential mentors and team leaders, network with cross-functional colleagues

Long-term goals: Get a promotion, earn a professional certificate or advanced degree, work toward a specific title

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: Currently, I’m working on a project to unify our internal analytics processes across data analysis, data science, and data engineering departments by liaising with representatives from each department to identify and address pain points. I’m also attending weekly leadership training sessions to build my managerial skills as I build the skills I need to ultimately become a Director of Analytics.

2. Become a thought leader.

Thought leaders exist in many areas within every industry, and their knowledge base can be expansive or niche. Depending on the type of thought leader you envision yourself becoming, you may aim to accomplish some of these goals:

Short-term goals: Attend specialty training sessions, take relevant classes, attend industry conferences, and build a social media following

Long-term goals: Earn a professional certificate or advanced degree, publish articles, write a book, speak at a conference

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: I’ve been taking online courses in social work from the University of Michigan to strengthen my knowledge base as I work with community organizers toward our team goals. I’m sharing our progress by writing for our company blog. In the next couple of years, I hope to apply for Michigan’s MSW program to make an even stronger impact on our company and community.

3. Work toward personal development.

Personal development, as it relates to your career goals, is about bringing your best version to your career. When talking about any of the following, remember to connect them back to the work you’re doing for your organization:

Short-term goals: Fill skill gaps with classes or training sessions, take on a new project at work, network with leaders you admire, find a mentor

Long-term goals: Lead with your values, learn a new skill, practice work-life balance , change careers

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: I’d like to be seen as a valued connector within our organization, so I’ve been meeting with people in different departments to determine how our lean IT team might better respond to their needs. Over the next few months, I’d like to lead more formal research into the matter and pilot a new request ticketing system.

4. Shift into a new career path.

Talking about a desire to change careers during a performance review can be tricky. You don’t need to share every detail of your career goal with your manager; it’s okay to stick to the transferable skills you are building. Here are some things you may work toward as you approach a career change:

Short-term goals: Research your desired career, gain necessary technical and workplace skills , earn a professional certificate, participate in a career bootcamp, request informational interviews

Long-term goals: Work toward a specific job title

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: I envision myself as a strong communicator, and I’d like to be selected to help with our team’s presentation during the next annual report meeting. I’ve been writing monthly progress recaps and distributing them on our team’s Slack channel to build my skills. I’m also practicing my PowerPoint skills in an online Microsoft 365 Fundamentals Specialization .

5. Experience career stability.

If your career goals aren’t your central life goals, you may be more focused on career stability rather than growth. Having a job that supports your broader life goals can be crucial. If you are working toward career stability, some of your goals may be:

Short-term goals: Hone skills that support stability in your role, build time management skills, build strong work relationships

Long-term goals: Earn a specific salary, get a job with strong benefits, practice work-life balance, build a strong reputation at work

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: My goal is to be seen as a strong colleague whom others view as reliable and attentive. I’ve been trying to welcome our newer coworkers by making myself available for any questions about our processes and compiling their inquiries into an employee playbook that they can reference and share.

6. Create a career goal.

Goals tend to shift over time as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us, and there will likely be times when you aren’t sure what your goal is. Not only is that normal, but it’s also a great time to explore your interests and think about your priorities in life. Here are some aims to consider:

Short-term goals: Attend seminars and training sessions, take a class, explore a hobby, learn a new skill, research various career paths, request informational interviews, network with people in different industries, find a career coach

Long-term goals: Master a new skill, incorporate a new skill into your career, find a mentor

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: I recently earned my psychology degree and am rediscovering my love of design. I’m currently exploring ways to integrate both into my career. I’ve started taking introductory UX design courses and reading popular UX blogs . I’m hoping to connect with some UI designers within the company over the next few months to hear more about their experiences and responsibilities.

Start achieving your goals

Continuing to learn is an essential part of working toward any goal. If you find that your career goals require a specific area of knowledge, consider earning an online Professional Certificate with Coursera. Become job-ready in areas like data analysis, social media marketing, and UX design with courses from industry leaders like Google, Meta, and IBM. You’ll be able to learn at your own pace from anywhere with an internet connection and gain hands-on experience working with the skills you’re learning.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

40+ Hobbies & Interests to Put on a Resume [Updated for 2024]

Background Image

“Hobbies and interests have no place on the resume.”

Done right, hobbies on a resume can help you stand out from other candidates, show a bit of your personality to the hiring manager, and potentially even get you the job!

That said, not every resume needs hobbies and interests, and at the same time, not every hobby belongs on a resume.

In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about hobbies on a resume, including when to list them, how to pick the right ones to mention, and more!

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • Should You Mention Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume?
  • 12 Best Hobbies and Interests to Put On Your Resume

How to List Hobbies and Interests on a Resume

4 tips to keep in mind when listing hobbies and interests, 40 best hobbies and interests to put on your resume [complete list].

Let’s dive in!

Should You Mention Hobbies & Interests on Your Resume?

There’s no straight-up answer to this question as it depends on several factors.

For example, if you’re a professional with many years of experience in your field, you could probably do without a hobbies and interests section on your resume. 

As a seasoned professional, you probably have tons of skills, work experience , and certifications to fill your resume with and set yourself apart from the competition. 

If adding a “hobbies and interests” section will make your resume spill over to page two , then you should definitely leave it out. 

On the other hand, if you’re a recent graduate with little work experience, adding your hobbies and interests to your resume can help you stand out as a candidate, as well as help fill up your resume to take up an entire page.

But enough with the hypotheticals! Let us tell you exactly when to mention hobbies and interests on your resume and how they can benefit your job application.

What’s the Difference Between Hobbies and Interests?

First things first - what are hobbies and interests? 

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing:

  • Interests are topics, ideas, or subjects that interest you, fascinate you, and you want to learn more about. Culinary art, history, and classical music are all examples of various interests.
  • Hobbies are activities you actually engage in. Some examples of hobbies may include cooking, playing basketball, or visiting museums.

Hobbies show the hiring manager how you spend your free time and what kind of additional skills you may possess. For example, if you include “basketball” as your hobby, you’re also telling the hiring manager that you have great teamwork skills. 

Interests , on the other hand, indicate what topics and ideas you’re currently interested in or you’d like to explore in the future. If, for example, you’re applying for a job that requires relocation and you list traveling as your interest, you may seem like a more relevant candidate because you enjoy traveling to new places. 

So, as you can see, hobbies and interests can add value to your resume if they’re relevant to the job and if they point to soft skills the company may be looking for. 

Which leads us to the million-dollar question: when exactly should you include hobbies and interests on your resume? 

When to Include Hobbies and Interests on Your Resume

You should include hobbies and interests on your resume when:

  • You still have space after including all the essential resume sections (contact information, work experience, education, and skills).
  • You have limited work experience, education, and skills related to the position you are applying for.
  • The company puts emphasis on its employees’ personalities and unique traits.
  • The company specifically asks to list additional hobbies and interests.
  • Your hobbies and interests show that you’re good at your job. E.g. if you’re applying for a writing role, having Dungeons & Dragons as an interest might help (as it shows that you’re creative).

New to resume-making? Give our resumes 101 video a watch before diving into the article!

12 Top Hobbies and Interests to Put On Your Resume

So here’s the takeaway: for hobbies and interests to add value to your resume, they should be somewhat relevant to the job you’re applying for. 

In most cases, though, candidates list pastime activities that say nothing to the hiring manager reading their resume, like watching movies or listening to music. 

To help you avoid such a mistake, we’ve listed some of the best hobbies and interests to put on your resume, based on companies’ most commonly required skills and abilities: 

#1. Community Involvement

Volunteering and community involvement is probably the best hobby/interest you could be adding to your resume, as it’s associated with 27% higher odds of employment . 

In a nutshell, volunteering shows initiative, empathy, and the ability to see beyond your personal interests. On top of this, volunteering teaches organizational skills, teamwork, and leadership. 

#2. Writing

Communication skills - both verbal and written - are some of the most sought-after soft skills by companies . 

As such, having writing as a hobby can effectively show potential employers that your communication skills extend beyond the workplace and are, as such, stronger than other candidates. 

#3. Blogging

Blogging is another hobby that proves you’ve got excellent communication skills, which is essential for most roles.

At the same time, blogging as a hobby also shows that you’re a self-starter that can work on independent projects, which is another very in-demand skill for most roles.

#4. Learning Languages

It’s no secret that speaking foreign languages can improve your chances of getting a job . 

For starters, employers are always on the lookout for candidates who can communicate with people from different nationalities and can be an asset when dealing with international markets.

On top of that, learning languages is associated with improving valuable skills like problem-solving and dealing with abstract concepts, both of which are desirable employee skills. 

Some of the jobs where listing learning languages as a hobby can come in handy include social workers, human resources managers, flight attendants, community health workers, hotel managers, customer service agents, etc. 

#5. Photography

Just like all the other hobbies on this list, photography can represent you in more ways than “this candidate likes to take pictures.”

After all, photography takes creativity, interpersonal skills, and even technical skills ! 

This means that, in addition to all the jobs that require photography skills, there are many other positions out there that could benefit from a candidate who’s into photography. 

career masterclass

Traveling may not seem like the best hobby to include on your resume at first sight. After all, it simply involves picking a destination and being a tourist, right? 

Well, not exactly. 

Someone who loves traveling is also likely to be: 

  • Curious to learn new things, experience new cultures, and meet new people
  • Well- organized and adaptable to new situations and people
  • Not afraid to step out of their comfort zone

All of these personality traits make for an adaptable and flexible employee, something that employers appreciate!

Sports - and any kind of physical activity, really - are known to improve brain health and your ability to do everyday activities . 

Not only, but sports also help you develop self-discipline, teamwork, leadership, and interpersonal skills . 

All of these are essential skills that could help you “adapt” your resume to different kinds of jobs. 

#8. Reading

Reading is one of the best hobbies to put on your resume, regardless of what types of books you like to read.

Reading exercises the brain, improves the ability to focus, increases general knowledge, can sharpen your communication skills, and helps relieve stress . 

#9. Making Music

Making music not only takes creativity, but also a lot of determination, patience, and endurance. Not to mention, studies show that playing an instrument can also improve your memory and focus . 

Showing such qualities can instantly make you more attractive to hiring managers.

Yoga is known to create mental clarity , relieve chronic stress patterns, relax the mind, and sharpen concentration.

And - let’s be honest - who doesn’t want an employee who’s mentally clear, unstressed, and able to concentrate on their work? 

To do any kind of art, you need to be creative, which is among the most popular transferable skills companies are looking for in 2022. 

According to this Adobe study , creativity has gained the most value in driving salary increases in the past five years. That’s also because creativity is also linked to inventiveness, imagination, and problem-solving abilities. 

Dancing is more than just a fun pastime. It improves your cognitive abilities, and collaboration skills (especially if you’re dancing with a partner), and can help you unwind and keep your stress levels low. 

top hobbies and interests for resume

Top Soft and Hard Skills Related to Hobbies and Interests On a Resume

And here’s what the hiring manager is likely to read from including the hobbies and interests listed above to your resume in terms of soft and hard skills: 

Top Soft and Hard Skills Related to Hobbies and Interests On a Resume

Yep, you heard that right.

There IS a right and wrong way to list hobbies and interests on your resume.

In this section, we’ll teach you all you need to know to make your hobbies and interests section as effective as possible!  

#1. Decide whether you need them

The first thing you want to do is decide whether you’d benefit from adding hobbies and interests to your resume. As we already mentioned, hobbies and interests can be a breath of fresh air for your resume, but only in certain circumstances.  

If you’re a professional with many years of work experience under your sleeve, your resume can do without a hobbies and interests section.

You already have a lot of professional achievements , relevant skills, and qualifications to make your resume a full one-pager, while adding a hobbies section would mean removing some other critical section from your resume.

On the other hand , if you’re a student with almost no work experience or skills, or if you’re applying to a startup or to a company that puts more emphasis on company culture, then you could definitely benefit from listing your hobbies and interests. 

The optimal length for a resume is one page.

If including a hobbies and interests section spills your resume over to the second page, that means that you can probably just skip including the section in the first place.

#2. Research the Company

So, you’ve decided it’s a good idea to include your hobbies and interests on your resume. But, which ones do you actually include? 

To make the best possible choice, start by researching the company. See if they have any specific work culture, work retreats, and what qualities would complement your role.

Here’s exactly where you should look: 

  • The job ad. Read the job ad and identify the type of skills that they’re looking for.
  • The company website and any employee profiles you can find there.
  • Their social media accounts . Specifically, their LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. 

#3. Choose the Right Skills

Once you’ve done this, you should think about how specific skills or requirements may transfer to a hobby or interest and tailor yours to the job accordingly. 

You may have dozens of exciting hobbies and interests, but your resume isn’t the right place to list them all. Just to reiterate - you want your hobbies and interests to be as relevant as possible . 

So, for example, if the job ad mentions the company’s looking for someone who’s “outgoing” or a “great team player,” then any kind of sport is a good hobby to list on your resume. 

Meanwhile, anything that involves you sitting alone and being introverted (e.g. reading or knitting) is not very relevant. 

An alternative approach to choosing the right hobbies and interests is to use them to fill your skill gaps.

Let’s say that you’re an entry-level professional and you’re applying for your first job as an illustrator. Chances are, you lack some of the technical skills required for the job, simply due to your lack of professional experience. 

In such a case, choosing a hobby that proves you’ve got an eye for design and aesthetics can help your application. Anything art-related, including photography, painting, drawing, etc., will show the hiring manager that you’re passionate about this line of work. 

#4. Create a Separate Section (and Push It Down) 

By now you should have a clear idea of what hobbies and interests to add to your resume. 

The rest is fairly easy. 

Simply create a separate section titled “Hobbies and Interests,” and place it at the end of your resume . It’s crucial that this section doesn’t overshadow the more important parts of your resume, like your contact information, work experience, education , or even any volunteer work or internships you’ve completed. 

hobbies and interests on a resume

Ultimately, adding a “Hobbies and Interests” section at the end of your resume is a great way to wrap up your resume. 

It can help you make an impression that extends beyond the professional aspect and give the recruiter a little extra something to remember you by. 

Want to start your resume in a way that will grab the hiring manager’s attention? Learn how to write a resume summary with our guide! 

#5. List Up to Four Interests or Hobbies

Last but not least, it’s important to list the right amount of hobbies and interests on your resume. 

We recommend listing 4-6 total, at most. Anything less, and your hobbies section will look too empty. Anything more, and it’ll look like you’re just trying to fill in space.

Here are some additional tips you should always remember when you’re creating the “Hobbies and Interests” section of your resume: 

#1. Find out what you specifically enjoy about your hobbies 

People enjoy hobbies for different reasons. 

For example, someone might enjoy photography because they love being outdoors and capturing beautiful landscapes, while someone else might enjoy it because it gives them an opportunity to remember every place they visit or every person they meet. 

By identifying exactly what it is that you enjoy about your hobbies, it can be easier to describe them on your resume and talk about them genuinely in case the hiring manager asks about them during the job interview . 

#2. Be honest

Just like with everything else on your resume, you should be honest about the hobbies you list. 

Meaning, don’t lie about hobbies just because you think they sound cool, and don’t over-exaggerate something that can come back and bite you later on during the interview.

Just because you like to go on walks sometimes, doesn’t mean you’re “passionate about hiking” . Imagine the hiring manager’s also a hiking enthusiast and they ask you about the latest trail you hiked, but the only thing you can mention is how you enjoy taking a one-hour walk around your neighborhood daily to clear your mind. 

In such cases, it’s better to be honest and write this: 

  • Physical exercise: exercising daily for 45 minutes by taking a walk in nature.

Instead of this: 

#3. Be specific 

The more specific you can be about your hobbies and interests, the higher the chances to stand out from other applicants and make an impression on the hiring manager. 

Here’s what we mean by that: 

  • Learning languages: studying and practicing some of the most-spoken languages in the world, such as Mandarin and French. 

#4. Keep these hobbies OUT of your resume

A very thin line separates unique from weird, and you want to make sure not to cross it. 

To be on the safe side, avoid listing hobbies and interests that might be considered weird or controversial, such as any of the following:

  • Hobbies that signal antisocial behavior or activities.
  • Hobbies and interests that could be misinterpreted, even if you meant them as a joke (e.g. partying like there’s no tomorrow). 
  • Hobbies and interests that reveal personal information such as your political or religious views. 
  • Hobbies that could be considered violent or dangerous (e.g. lighting things on fire). 
  • Hobbies and interests with little or no interactivity. 

Looking for inspiration?

Here are several hobbies you can include, by category, based on your personality type.

Sports Interest and Hobby Examples

Sports Interest and Hobby Examples

Generally speaking, there are two types of sports you can include on your resume - individual and team-oriented .

Depending on the sport, they either show you work well with others, or that you have the self-discipline and perseverance to work alone (or both!) 

Endurance sports (like jogging) show your drive and discipline.

Team sports (like football, basketball, etc.) show that you’re comfortable working with others.

Which one you might want to include depends on you and the job. Here are some sports hobbies you could list that will paint you in a positive light:

  • Marathon running
  • Mountain climbing

Most of these sports are outside and physical activities. They show that you’re comfortable with working with other people and that you have discipline. Therefore, they’re relevant for most job roles that require you to be communicative and self-driven.

Analytical Thinking Interest and Hobby Examples

Analytical Thinking Interest and Hobby Examples

What’s a thought hobby?

Anything that points to your creative skills and imagination. 

If you’re applying for a job that requires a lot of out-of-the-box thinking, you can list the following hobbies:

  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Photography
  • Blog writing

These all point to your analytical thinking and that you’re a creative person.

Possibly more calm and self-composed, and also that you think before you speak.

These qualities can be relevant depending on the job.

Though, your interest section doesn’t necessarily have to consist only of sports. 

Social Interest and Hobby Examples

Social Interest and Hobby Examples

Social hobbies are a great way to show you directly work well with others. Nowadays, most jobs require you to be in contact with other people, in one way or another

To show you work well with others and you’re adept at communicating, you can include:

  • Creating and organizing a book club
  • Networking events
  • Local meetups
  • Volunteering at a charity center
  • Public speaking
  • Exploring other cultures
  • Language classes

Social hobbies are great because you’re going to be interacting with other people in most jobs - so one way or another, they’re going to help. Even more so if the job is in a leadership position.

Unique Interest and Hobby Examples

Unique Interest and Hobby Examples

Do you have a particularly unique hobby that not a lot of people are into?

This can work in your favor and help you stand out, as long as it’s still in the unique area and not in the weird one.

The HR manager shuffling through a stack of resumes can remember your unique hobby and come back to your resume later. Or they could even ask about you during the interview, so be prepared to talk about it.

Some unique hobbies that can speak about your character may include:

  • Stand-up comedy
  • Calligraphy

How do these hobbies help?

Archery implies you might be a precise and focused person. And yoga shows that you can be calm and don’t lose your cool in stressful situations.

Though, just how effective those hobbies will be in your resume may depend on the job.

But as long as it’s not too weird, a unique hobby can help you get your foot in the door and show that you’re not afraid of being different.

Looking for tips on writing a CV instead of a resume? We've got you covered! Head over to our in-depth guide explaining how to write a CV !

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have some questions about hobbies and interests on a resume? Check out the answers below:

1. Should hobbies and interests be on a resume?

If you have the extra space to list them, then yes, you should include hobbies and interests on your resume.

Hobbies and interests can help you stand out from other candidates by shining more light into your personality and can also highlight skills you may have that employers seek, such as creativity, organization, problem-solving, etc.

2. What are some good hobbies and interests to put on my resume?

Some of the best hobbies or interests you can put on your resume are community involvement, writing, blogging, learning languages, photography, traveling, doing sports, reading, and art.

3. What are some hobbies and interests for a student resume?

Some hobbies and interests you can put on your resume as a student include creative writing, blogging, volunteering, learning a new language, and singing and/or playing an instrument.

Key Takeaways

And that’s a wrap on everything you need to know about hobbies and interests on a resume!

Before you go and start applying what you learned to your own resume, let’s go over the main points we covered in this article: 

  • Hobbies and interests can help shine a light on a candidate’s personality and get them to stand out from other applicants with similar work experience and skills. 
  • Include hobbies and interests on your resume if you still have space after listing all the essential sections, if you have limited work experience and relevant skills, if the company specifically requires it, or if the company puts emphasis on its employees’ character traits. 
  • Some of the best hobbies to add to your resume include community service, writing/blogging, learning languages, traveling, doing sports, and reading. 
  • Before creating a separate section for your hobbies and interests, first make sure that your resume would benefit from them, then research the company, and choose the right skills that could complement your skills and qualifications. 
  • Four things to remember when you’re compiling your hobbies and interests are, to be honest, be specific, and keep hobbies that may be considered weird or antisocial out of your resume. 

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Soft Skills

11 minute read

Your Guide to Career Goals Statements (and Why You Need One)

Kat Boogaard

Kat Boogaard

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Imagine that it’s a Monday morning, and you’ve just arrived at the office. You sit down at your desk, ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Now, tell me this: What’s on your mind?

Are you thinking through the meetings on your schedule? The emails that need to be answered? The tasks that must be completed that day? All of the above?

If so, you aren’t alone. Our workdays are busy, which means our minds are often consumed by what’s right in front of us. We take things day by day.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that (after all, that stuff does need to get done). But here’s the problem: It’s far too easy to become overwhelmed by those immediate things, that we neglect to zoom out and get a broader view of what we’re actually working toward (beyond completing that day’s to-do list).

This is exactly where a career goals statement comes in handy. It reminds you of your main objective and gives you a greater sense of direction. So let's look at some career goals statement examples!


What exactly is a career goals statement?

As the name implies, a career goals statement is your personal vision for the future of your career. Think of it as the ultimate target that you’re aiming toward.

For example, perhaps you’re currently employed as a marketing analyst, but your long-term career plan is to start your own marketing agency that primarily serves software clients. Or maybe you’re interested in  starting a small business  in a different field. Your career goals statement should formally document that objective.   Your career goals statement should formally document that objective.

What exactly is meant by “formally document”? Put simply, your goals statement should be written down—it’s not just something that lives in the back of your brain. We’ll talk more about why that’s important soon. But with all of that in mind, here’s what that career goals statement could look like:

I will start my own agency that provides an array of marketing services to clients in the software industry by the year 2025. I will accomplish this by maximizing any marketing position I fill in order to refine my skills, getting involved at community and social events to strengthen my connections, and scheduling informational interviews with current agency owners.

Many graduate schools actually require that a goals statement (otherwise referred to as a personal statement or statement of purpose) or a similar essay be submitted with a student’s application materials.

However, for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to focus on career goals statements that are used personally—for people who want to formalize their objectives and increase their understanding of what they’re working toward in their careers.

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Why does your career goals statement matter?

At first glance, a career goals statement might seem like an unnecessary formality. But make no mistake, working on your own career goals statement comes with several benefits.

1. It forces you to ask yourself the hard questions

Chances are, your average workday is full of questions. Should you do this or that first? Where’d you put that important file? What should you grab for lunch? Do you have time to snag another coffee ahead of that meeting?

Yes, you’re asking yourself plenty of questions—but you probably aren’t taking any time to reflect on the really important ones. When’s the last time you’ve checked in with yourself about things like:

  • What do you envision for your career in another 10 years?
  • What more can you do to work toward that vision?
  • What tasks or projects make you feel most fulfilled ?
  • What tasks or projects make you feel most drained?

Those are exactly the types of questions you’ll need to answer when creating your own career goals statement, and that chance for reflection is valuable for ensuring you don’t get caught up in the minutiae of your day-to-day.

2. It gives you a sense of direction

Have you ever felt sort of rudderless in your career? Like you were just clocking in and out each day for nothing more than a paycheck?

This is another benefit of creating your own career goals statement: It breaks you out of the monotony, dangles a carrot in front of your face, and renews your sense of motivation.

That’s because, as the Goal-Setting Theory explains, goals themselves are incredibly motivating. You feel much more inspired to get to work when you actually have a clear idea of what you’re working toward.

Additionally, focusing on the end game allows you to get a stronger grasp on what skills you’ll need to develop or refine in order to make that goal a reality.

3. It increases your accountability

There’s something almost intimidating about writing your goal down, isn’t there? You’ve documented it—it’s real, and now there’s a greater sense of accountability.

As frightening as it might seem, that’s actually a positive thing. Research shows that people who are able to vividly picture or describe their own goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to actually achieve them. What better way to get that clarity than by writing that objective down?

Plus, doing so will help make that goal stick. Other studies show that writing things down improves your memory of them.

5 tips to write your own career goals statement

A career goals statement offers numerous benefits. But what do you need to know to write one for yourself? Let’s cover five tips you should put into play.

1. Invest the time in reflection

Remember when we talked about the opportunity for self-reflection above? Before jumping right in with scribbling down your career goals statement, make sure you actually take the time to do that

This will help you avoid setting a goal that you think you should have and instead focus on one that you want to have.

That’s the most important piece of a goal: It should be something that you actually want to achieve. Setting one only because you think it’s expected of you ultimately won’t do you any good.

2. Get specific

In order for a goal to be impactful and provide the necessary sense of direction, it needs to be specific. Something general like “climb the ladder” or “earn more money” is too ambiguous to ignite any motivation.

When establishing your career goals statement, try using the SMART goals framework. Here’s what that stands for:

Specific: Clearly state what you plan to accomplish (i.e. “start my own marketing agency focused on software clients”).

Measurable: Similarly, outline what your benchmark for success is so that you know when you’ve actually achieved your goal.

Achievable: You don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment, so make sure that your goal isn’t so lofty that it’s unattainable.

Relevant: Ensure that what you want to accomplish is actually relevant to you (this is where that self-reflection really comes in handy!).

Time-bound: A goal is nothing without a deadline for when you plan to achieve it by. Your career goals statement should be somewhat long-term (and not something you want to accomplish by next week). But “long-term” can mean six months to some people and 20 years to others. Get clear on exactly when you want to reach this objective.

3. Use confident language

Your career goals statement isn’t the place for wishy-washy and noncommittal phrases. There’s no starting with, “I really want to...” or “I really hope I can…”

Open your career goals statement with a certain and confident, “ I will .” Not only does that phrase further remove any ambiguity, but it also gives you a nice nugget of encouragement whenever you refer back to it.

4. Develop an action plan

Setting a goal is a great start, but setting a finish line for yourself means nothing if you don’t understand what you’ll do to cross it.

The latter part of your career goals statement should outline the steps you’ll take to accomplish that goal. This gives you a roadmap that you can follow, rather than just saddling yourself with an objective and feeling clueless about how to get started.

5. Be flexible

Here’s one more thing that’s important to recognize: Goals change. Of course, the very purpose of your career goals statement is to give yourself something long-term to work toward, but that doesn’t mean it’ll always be set in stone.

What if after talking to some other agency owners you decide that business ownership really isn’t for you? Or what if you have personal circumstances come up that require you to remain in traditional employment for a while—meaning the 2025 deadline is no longer realistic? Or what if you achieve your goal and need to come up with a brand new one?

Whether good or bad, these things happen, and you need to be flexible and willing to roll with the punches.

If and when your goal shifts, don’t completely trash or delete your previous goal. Instead, keep it and write an entirely new one. It’s interesting to see how your objectives evolve over time, and that progression can actually be quite enlightening and motivating.


Get inspired: 5 career goals statement examples you can learn from

Nothing helps provide some clarity like a solid sample. So with all of the above tips in mind, let’s take a look at a few different career goals statement examples that you can use as inspiration for writing your own .

Career goals statement example #1:

I will be promoted to a Project Lead at CompanyXYZ within the next five years. To do so, I will refine my project management skills, obtain my PMP Certification , and express my desire for growth and advancement to my current supervisor.

Career goals statement example #2:

I will land a job as a Data Analyst at a large financial institution by the end of the year. To accomplish this goal, I will improve my skills in Excel and PowerQuery and connect with other Data Analysts in my network to find out more about their job search processes.

Career goals statement example #3:

I will foster a positive reputation and secure a public speaking gig for a session of over 300 attendees within the next calendar year. I will do this by continuing to refine my public speaking abilities and networking with conference planners in my industry.

Career goals statement example #4:

I will pursue and complete a career change from a Graphic Designer to a Web Developer within three years. To make this happen, I will return to school to get my Associate Degree in Web Development and complete online courses that cover all of the major programming languages.

Career goals statement example #5:

I will gain a Certified Public Accountant license within a year. In order to achieve this, I'll create a study plan and I'll take a CPA exam review course . I'm going to study each day for 2-3 hours after work to pass the CPA exam.

What should you do with your career goals statement?

You did it—you implemented the tips and followed the examples, and now you’re equipped with your own career goals statement. Uhh...now what? What do you do with it?

Keep it somewhere safe. Better yet, keep it somewhere you can easily accessible so that you can refer to it whenever you need a gentle reminder of what you’re working so hard for.

Whether you had a bad day or just need to be encouraged that your career is about so much more than churning through your daily to-do list, your career goals statement will help you step back and get the perspective that’s so easy to lose sight of in your everyday life.

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Kat Boogaard

Kat is a writer specializing in career, self-development, and productivity topics. When she escapes her computer, she enjoys reading, hiking, golfing, and dishing out tips for prospective freelancers on her website.

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write career interest

What are Your Career Interests – How To Answer In Interview?

What are your career interests? Profession pursuits have typically been related to professional evaluation, which has been outlined as the method of researching, studying, and discussing your professional pursuits. It’s broadly used within the areas of professional steering, counseling, and psychology, and refers to professional exploration. Attending to know your professional pursuits means that you’re discovering out what you get pleasure from doing frequently. These are the actions that may be related to a particular trade or job and aid you make a career choice.

Why look into your career interests?

Exploring your pursuits will help you turn into extra self-aware, uncover your private values, and the best way to utilize your strengths. Ideally, this will help you establish the place your motivation lies and what you’re more than likely to remain dedicated to.

The underlying concept that hyperlinks your pursuits together with your profession is that it urges you to decide on what you like to do. You must know the shortlisted tips for facing a job interview for success. Discovering a job that includes duties that might be attention-grabbing to you is extra more likely to make your job pleasant and hold you motivated to maintain that job. Additionally, you will have a higher probability of being good at your job and getting promoted.

How do they assist you to choose a career?

Have you ever ever heard the phrase ‘discover what you want doing probably the most after which get somebody to pay you to do it’? Properly, that is precisely how your pursuits will help you select a profession.

Exploring your pursuits helps you discover what’s most vital to you. Realizing what careers match your pursuits will help you keep away from jobs that won’t make the most of your pure skills and strengths.

What are your career interests: How to explore?

A superb option to establish your career interests is getting in contact together with your feelings. Ask yourself how you are feeling when you are finishing up a process or an exercise. You’ll know you get pleasure from what you’re doing while you expertise any of the next: Passion – That is one thing that speaks to your coronary heart. It’s a combination of nervousness and depth that has the ability to create one thing lovely. Enjoyable and pleasure – The important thing right here is happiness. You realize you have an interest in an exercise when you’re continuously wanting ahead to it. Constant engagement – Being bored is an international idea for you. You get pleasure from your job a lot that focus is easy, constant, and unflinching. Timelessness – Time flies by when you’re engaged in one thing fascinating. The eagerness, enjoyment, and engagement bring you to some extent the place you want time stood nonetheless, and the one factor that may cease you is excessive fatigue. Irresistible urge – You merely can’t get sufficient of it, and you discover excuses to spend some extra time on it. Whether or not it’s enjoying music, singing, or dancing, it’s an exercise that you would be able to cease doing. That is the sort of dedication you’ll count on to place into your work. Rest and reward – If you find yourself completed with the duty, you expertise a tremendous feeling of delight and fulfillment. That’s when you’re fully satisfied that it was worthwhile in any case.

Factors to Emphasize to find what are your career interests

Whenever you reply to this query, you need to have already got a good suggestion about why you’re what the corporate wants. Thus, use this as a possibility to indicate why you’re the greatest candidate. Focus on abilities that you’ve got developed throughout your profession. Point out pure talents equivalent to inventive downside fixing or interpersonal communication. Spotlight the actual reason why you selected to use it for the job. Concentrate on the effectiveness and productiveness you deliver to the place. Hiring managers are drawn to those that are assured and educated so attempt to show these qualities while you reply.

Mistakes You Ought to Keep away from

There is not an improper reply to this query, however, there are a number of particulars you need to miss in your response. Keep away from addressing irrelevant experiences or ability units. Don’t discuss dissatisfaction with different industries or positions. Keep away from portraying your potential place as a brief time period or a stepping-stone. Don’t talk about financial compensation or workplace location. Make an effort to be as constructive and enthusiastic as potential together with your reply.

Sample Answers for what are your career interests [1]

I’ve all the time been within the monetary subject. As a toddler, I performed with money registers as an alternative to video video games. As I acquired older, the marketplace and world economics enthralled me throughout my graduate program, internships, and previous jobs.

Now, this place as a senior account supervisor will hold me within the subject that I get pleasure from and am a professional in. Moreover, I count on being taught much more from the brand new challenges I’ll face whereas working for your company.

what are your career interests

Sample Answers for what are your career interests [2]

I’ve spent the previous three years since graduate faculty as an HR generalist. Throughout this time, I’ve loved my work in recruiting. I’m seeking to specialize within the employment environment with an organization equivalent to yours, which has a big recruitment operation.

In the end, perhaps five to seven years down the street, I would like to direct a recruiting operation at a serious firm, if I may hold my arms in among the actions I get pleasure from, equivalent to interviewing candidates. When you may, all the time embody your expertise stage and different qualities that qualify you for the place.

Testing your self

There’s a wide range of self-assessment instruments that may aid you to perceive more about yourself and your professional pursuits. The most well-liked professional evaluation device has historically been John Holland’s RIASEC mannequin, which offers a framework of six normal character sorts describing completely different areas of pursuits.

These are Real looking, Investigative, Inventive, Social, Enterprising, and Typical; and so they aid you to discover your pursuits in relation to work and profession. This mannequin has been used as the muse of many career tests. What’s vital to recollect while you take a professional pursuits check is that you’ve got to have the ability to consider your previous, current, and future.

You have to look again at the place you began, consider your expertise after which visualize the way you see yourself within the years to come back. This requires answering truthfully, attending to know what you might want to really feel full, and figuring out your skilled objectives.

Ask yourself

That can assist you out, listed below are some questions you may ask your self:

What do you want to do in your free time? What actions have you ever participated in (educational, cultural, social, service, or religious)? What pursuits do you will have that may be translated right into a profession? Which tasks or accomplishments have been most fulfilling and why? What has been your favorite internship/job? Extracurricular exercise? Pastime? In your earlier jobs, what do you want and dislike? In case you would educate a course on any topic, what would it not be? To whom would you educate it? Which world points concern you? In case you would commerce jobs with three folks, who would they be and why? What do you daydream about? What would you try in the event you knew you wouldn’t fail?

Never say these while answer what are your career interests

Keep away from specifics: The interview will not be the time to inquire about wage, job location, or different very particular data. You are interviewing for a place. Hold the dialogue concerning the job until the interviewer makes it about one thing else. Don’t focus on personal points: Don’t make your job interview about private points. For instance, don’t say one thing like, “I’d wish to relocate to Minnesota, the place my daughter’s gymnastics coach lives.” Don’t point out caring on your aged mother and father or your individual well being points. Don’t say you don’t have any weaknesses: You’re human. Everybody has not less than some weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to speak a few weak spot or two in your skilled life. It’s not going to price you the job.

Career Exams

Whereas attempting to reply to these, one can find that you’ve got sure abilities that come extra naturally to you. For instance, this could be managing a crew and for others could possibly be arising with inventive concepts or giving a presentation.

One factor’s for certain – there’s something you’re actually good at and also you get pleasure from doing probably the most all through the day and that’s what you might want to discover out. This comes right down to what Confucius as soon as stated: ‘select a job you like and you’ll by no means work a day in your life’.

The well-known quote encapsulates the concept that you need to discover a profession that you simply get pleasure from and from which you needn’t escape. Whenever you handle to mix a profession and an ardor collectively, that’s while you start contributing to one thing significant. Profession exams let you discover your interests by presenting these statements or variations of those as questions. In a check, that is often completed within the type of a 1 to 10 scale, asking you to charge the statements so as of choice.

Alternatively, they could ask you to decide on the reply that’s most applicable to you with choices like Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Impartial, Agree, and Strongly Agree. Such questions will help you acknowledge themes and particular areas of curiosity evaluating your outcomes with these of people in a wide range of occupations. Figuring out your professional pursuits is step one to creating a well-informed professional determination.

When you will have a thought of what you need you may discover what classes your pursuits fall into and the decision-making course of turns into simpler. It could possibly additionally assist be sure that you don’t get bored and keep away from professional stagnation. Nonetheless, you might want to bear in mind that your career interests can change as you progress professionally. This occurs as you continuously equip yourself with abilities and have new experiences.

Consequently, you might develop a brand new curiosity in a space that you simply didn’t have the prospect to discover up to now. At this level, you might want to return and begin the entire course once more.

I hope this article on What are Your Career Interests – How To Answer In Interview? was worth reading.

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Finding Your Fit: Career Interest Strategies

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Are you starting your job search but feeling uncertain about where to start? As a senior graduating in a few months, I will be sharing insights into the steps I’ve taken and the strategies that have proven beneficial over the next few weeks. Job searching and figuring out career aspirations may seem daunting. However, finding the type of employment that aligns with your interests is crucial. Here are some helpful tools and advice to get you started: 

The Importance of Identifying Your Career Interests:

When your career aligns with your interests, you are more likely to create a healthy work-life balance which can help create a sense of authenticity in your work. Additionally, people who tend to enjoy their job more tend to remain positive in face of challenges. According to a Forbes article , “If you enjoy your work, you’re likely to bring more energy, enthusiasm and care to your job; outperform those who are just “clocking time,” and advance faster, since your employer will be happier with you too.”

Exploring Your Career Interests:

  • Self-Reflection: Take time to reflect on past experiences, hobbies and activities that you enjoy. What subjects do you find drawn to? For example, if you like writing, business, and lifestyle content, look into if a career in content marketing or public relations interests you. (If you’re a sophomore, check out The Journey Program to explore your interests.)
  • Assessments and Tools: While this may seem cheesy, taking a Myers Briggs personality assessment can be helpful in identifying your strengths, interests, and personality traits. It will also say what your workplace habits are. For example, I am an INFJ where my career paths align with careers in writing, creating blogs, stories, and working for nonprofits. 
  • Experimentation: Continue to try new things! Internships are a good way of experimenting with different fields and gauging your interests and skills. Join different career communities at the Knowlton Center and go to events.
  • Seeking Mentorship and Guidance: Don’t be afraid to use resources at the Knowlton Center! Schedule an appointment with a career coach to provide insights and advice can provide valuable perspectives and help you gain clarity on your career goals.

Navigating Career Transitions

As a college senior, it’s reassuring to remember that your first job out of college doesn’t have to define your entire career trajectory. It’s more like a stepping stone to the next phase of your life. Even if your initial job isn’t exactly what you envisioned, it can still provide valuable skills and experiences that will support you as you navigate your career path. So, embrace the opportunities for growth and learning, knowing that each experience contributes to your career journey.

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The Loss of Things I Took for Granted

Ten years into my college teaching career, students stopped being able to read effectively..

Recent years have seen successive waves of book bans in Republican-controlled states, aimed at pulling any text with “woke” themes from classrooms and library shelves. Though the results sometimes seem farcical, as with the banning of Art Spiegelman’s Maus due to its inclusion of “cuss words” and explicit rodent nudity, the book-banning agenda is no laughing matter. Motivated by bigotry, it has already done demonstrable harm and promises to do more. But at the same time, the appropriate response is, in principle, simple. Named individuals have advanced explicit policies with clear goals and outcomes, and we can replace those individuals with people who want to reverse those policies. That is already beginning to happen in many places, and I hope those successes will continue until every banned book is restored.

If and when that happens, however, we will not be able to declare victory quite yet. Defeating the open conspiracy to deprive students of physical access to books will do little to counteract the more diffuse confluence of forces that are depriving students of the skills needed to meaningfully engage with those books in the first place. As a college educator, I am confronted daily with the results of that conspiracy-without-conspirators. I have been teaching in small liberal arts colleges for over 15 years now, and in the past five years, it’s as though someone flipped a switch. For most of my career, I assigned around 30 pages of reading per class meeting as a baseline expectation—sometimes scaling up for purely expository readings or pulling back for more difficult texts. (No human being can read 30 pages of Hegel in one sitting, for example.) Now students are intimidated by anything over 10 pages and seem to walk away from readings of as little as 20 pages with no real understanding. Even smart and motivated students struggle to do more with written texts than extract decontextualized take-aways. Considerable class time is taken up simply establishing what happened in a story or the basic steps of an argument—skills I used to be able to take for granted.

Since this development very directly affects my ability to do my job as I understand it, I talk about it a lot. And when I talk about it with nonacademics, certain predictable responses inevitably arise, all questioning the reality of the trend I describe. Hasn’t every generation felt that the younger cohort is going to hell in a handbasket? Haven’t professors always complained that educators at earlier levels are not adequately equipping their students? And haven’t students from time immemorial skipped the readings?

The response of my fellow academics, however, reassures me that I’m not simply indulging in intergenerational grousing. Anecdotally, I have literally never met a professor who did not share my experience. Professors are also discussing the issue in academic trade publications , from a variety of perspectives. What we almost all seem to agree on is that we are facing new obstacles in structuring and delivering our courses, requiring us to ratchet down expectations in the face of a ratcheting down of preparation. Yes, there were always students who skipped the readings, but we are in new territory when even highly motivated honors students struggle to grasp the basic argument of a 20-page article. Yes, professors never feel satisfied that high school teachers have done enough, but not every generation of professors has had to deal with the fallout of No Child Left Behind and Common Core. Finally, yes, every generation thinks the younger generation is failing to make the grade— except for the current cohort of professors, who are by and large more invested in their students’ success and mental health and more responsive to student needs than any group of educators in human history. We are not complaining about our students. We are complaining about what has been taken from them.

If we ask what has caused this change, there are some obvious culprits. The first is the same thing that has taken away almost everyone’s ability to focus—the ubiquitous smartphone. Even as a career academic who studies the Quran in Arabic for fun, I have noticed my reading endurance flagging. I once found myself boasting at a faculty meeting that I had read through my entire hourlong train ride without looking at my phone. My colleagues agreed this was a major feat, one they had not achieved recently. Even if I rarely attain that high level of focus, though, I am able to “turn it on” when demanded, for instance to plow through a big novel during a holiday break. That’s because I was able to develop and practice those skills of extended concentration and attentive reading before the intervention of the smartphone. For children who were raised with smartphones, by contrast, that foundation is missing. It is probably no coincidence that the iPhone itself, originally released in 2007, is approaching college age, meaning that professors are increasingly dealing with students who would have become addicted to the dopamine hit of the omnipresent screen long before they were introduced to the more subtle pleasures of the page.

The second go-to explanation is the massive disruption of school closures during COVID-19. There is still some debate about the necessity of those measures, but what is not up for debate any longer is the very real learning loss that students suffered at every level. The impact will inevitably continue to be felt for the next decade or more, until the last cohort affected by the mass “pivot to online” finally graduates. I doubt that the pandemic closures were the decisive factor in themselves, however. Not only did the marked decline in reading resilience start before the pandemic, but the students I am seeing would have already been in high school during the school closures. Hence they would be better equipped to get something out of the online format and, more importantly, their basic reading competence would have already been established.

Less discussed than these broader cultural trends over which educators have little control are the major changes in reading pedagogy that have occurred in recent decades—some motivated by the ever-increasing demand to “teach to the test” and some by fads coming out of schools of education. In the latter category is the widely discussed decline in phonics education in favor of the “balanced literacy” approach advocated by education expert Lucy Calkins (who has more recently come to accept the need for more phonics instruction). I started to see the results of this ill-advised change several years ago, when students abruptly stopped attempting to sound out unfamiliar words and instead paused until they recognized the whole word as a unit. (In a recent class session, a smart, capable student was caught short by the word circumstances when reading a text out loud.) The result of this vibes-based literacy is that students never attain genuine fluency in reading. Even aside from the impact of smartphones, their experience of reading is constantly interrupted by their intentionally cultivated inability to process unfamiliar words.

For all the flaws of the balanced literacy method, it was presumably implemented by people who thought it would help. It is hard to see a similar motivation in the growing trend toward assigning students only the kind of short passages that can be included in a standardized test. Due in part to changes driven by the infamous Common Core standards , teachers now have to fight to assign their students longer readings, much less entire books, because those activities won’t feed directly into students getting higher test scores, which leads to schools getting more funding. The emphasis on standardized tests was always a distraction at best, but we have reached the point where it is actively cannibalizing students’ educational experience—an outcome no one intended or planned, and for which there is no possible justification.

We can’t go back in time and do the pandemic differently at this point, nor is there any realistic path to putting the smartphone genie back in the bottle. (Though I will note that we as a society do at least attempt to keep other addictive products out of the hands of children.) But I have to think that we can, at the very least, stop actively preventing young people from developing the ability to follow extended narratives and arguments in the classroom. Regardless of their profession or ultimate educational level, they will need those skills. The world is a complicated place. People—their histories and identities, their institutions and work processes, their fears and desires—are simply too complex to be captured in a worksheet with a paragraph and some reading comprehension questions. Large-scale prose writing is the best medium we have for capturing that complexity, and the education system should not be in the business of keeping students from learning how to engage effectively with it.

This is a matter not of snobbery, but of basic justice. I recognize that not everyone centers their lives on books as much as a humanities professor does. I think they’re missing out, but they’re adults and they can choose how to spend their time. What’s happening with the current generation is not that they are simply choosing TikTok over Jane Austen. They are being deprived of the ability to choose—for no real reason or benefit. We can and must stop perpetrating this crime on our young people.

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More From Forbes

How ai will impact technology careers of the future.

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Office Standup Meeting between an Engineer and a Scientist discussing an automation project for ... [+] their factory.

In the last two decades “learn how to code'' has become commonplace advice shared across many High Schools and Universities worldwide when asked how students should prepare for careers of the future.

What they don’t tell you is that more than 50% of jobs across top technology firms like Google GOOG and Meta require exactly zero coding skills.

This narrative misses a very important fact. That beyond just writing code, even the most technology forward businesses have to excel at solving other types of problems, problems that require a myriad of different skills.

Like the ability to evaluate, learn, and use new technologies to solve problems. Not build them.

And skills that require sophisticated levels of written and verbal communication, research and collection of data, the ability to plan and manage complicated projects, the skill of decision making when faced with competing priorities or stakeholders, and more.

If coding isn’t the future, then what is? And how can you ensure that you’re learning skills that will still be relevant 5-10 years from now?

Doing What AI Can Never Do

Best high-yield savings accounts of september 2023, best 5% interest savings accounts of september 2023.

In a recent interview with global higher education community FOHE , Paul LeBlanc, education innovator and President of Southern New Hampshire University, said that as AI evolves most likely taking over highly manual or repetitive jobs, “human-centered” professions will be in more demand than ever before.

Human decision making is nuanced, often relying on a combination of data, past experience, and gut instinct.

While computers are infinitely better than humans at anything systems oriented they lack the ability to judge a situation based on qualitative factors like relationships and human motivation.

Furthermore, the complex nature of organizing humans toward a unified goal, like curing cancer or educating the masses, depends on something that a computer can never replicate or instill - trust.

As technology evolves the need for educated individuals that understand how to leverage relationships and develop trust to solve complicated problems will be high.

People will be valued for their ability to adapt their knowledge of relationship building and problem solving to an ever growing list of new technologies, sectors, and job titles.

Skills that can only be learned by being in the room with other humans tackling problems that don’t have clear solutions and require creative thinking and collaboration.

Learning How Engineers Think, Not The Code Syntax They Write

Steve Jobs built one of the most important technology companies of the century, but he had never written a single line of code.

Instead he obsessed over design, usability, and learning everything about the products that he was building.

To do this and to motivate the most brilliant engineers he could recruit he had to learn how to think like them.

Which likely meant spending countless hours understanding how they thought about engineering problems that had never been solved before.

With Artificial Intelligence, product innovation is no different.

In fact, as AI gets better at writing, deploying and debugging code without human intervention we’ll need humans that understand how to clearly communicate business use-cases to a machine, and the requirements and context necessary to solve a particular problem.

Doing this effectively doesn’t require learning Python or C++, but it does require understanding how computers make decisions and the human instructions required to solve whatever problem comes to mind.

This is why today technology companies run by engineers who also have a strong business foundation excel.

But in the future this ability will not require an engineering degree, but simply foundational knowledge of how technology innovation happens. Knowledge that can be acquired through a combination of self-study and innovative education alternatives that allow you to learn from professionals directly.

Prioritizing Advanced Written And Verbal Communication Skills

It’s easy to see when someone is a good communicator. They are thoughtful with their approach, diplomatic in their execution and know how to use logic and reason to compel others toward certain actions.

Similarly, it’s blatantly obvious when someone doesn’t understand social cues for when to be formal or informal, or when they take so long to get to the point that you get lost simply trying to decipher what they are trying to say.

The latter group will always have difficulty in advancing their career regardless of discipline until they learn to communicate more effectively.

And the former group will seemingly get new opportunities handed to them, even when they lack the direct experience in that role.

As technology evolves individuals with exceptional communication skills will stand out even more from the rest.

They’ll be chosen as leaders when going up against someone with inferior communication skills and superior domain knowledge.

They will persuade others to fund their businesses, or join their initiatives.

They will organize talent around new technological advancements, and know how to use technology to test their hypotheses and take advantage of newly invented markets.

How do we know this to be true for the future of technology enabled careers? Because humans have always been rewarded for being excellent communicators.

The only difference is the current context of the world we live in and how individuals today actually acquire new skills.

For people looking to build these skills to stay competitive the answer is straightforward.

Find opportunities that will help you learn by doing. That will force you to learn how to communicate with executives and operators alike.

And if you can’t get these opportunities, create them yourself.

Test a new product idea through real customer feedback, giving you an excuse to reach out to and speak with talented people in your domain.

Create a blog or podcast that attracts like minded individuals that want to collaborate.

Join or organize communities that will expose you to people outside of your most immediate circle thereby accelerating your knowledge of what being an effective communicator actually means.

Tools like AI will undoubtedly change the way we live, work and think about our careers.

But the physical world we live in will never cease to depend on capable people that learn how to effectively leverage the tools at our disposal, including highly complex and intelligent pieces of technology.

Future proofing your career then becomes fairly simple. A combination of learning how to be technologically savvy, and learning how to use new technology to understand and solve the never ending challenges that humanity faces.

Sergei Revzin and Vadim Revzin

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Where Has Tracy Chapman Been?

Her triumphant performance at the Grammy Awards left fans wondering what she has been doing since she left the music world, and whether she might return.

Tracy Chapman, in a black button-up shirt and jeans, plays an acoustic guitar on a stage with a microphone and lights on it.

By Ben Sisario and Heather Knight

Ben Sisario reported from New York and Heather Knight from San Francisco

Tracy Chapman’s rare public appearance at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night — where she practically stole the show performing her 1988 song “Fast Car” with the country singer Luke Combs — left many fans wondering why she had largely stepped away from music for more than a decade.

Despite some scattered performances on television and at awards shows, Chapman, 59, has remained almost entirely absent from the music world in recent years, having released her last studio album in 2008 and done her last tour in 2009. Since she first emerged in the late 1980s, she has always been known as a reclusive and private figure.

“Being in the public eye and under the glare of the spotlight was, and it still is, to some extent, uncomfortable for me,” she told The Irish Times in 2015 . “There are some ways by which everything that has happened in my life has prepared me for this career. But I am bit shy.”

The acclaim for her Grammys performance — Taylor Swift could be seen singing along in the crowd — was a sign of how beloved Chapman remains. Combs’s note-for-note cover of “Fast Car” went to No. 2 on Billboard’s pop singles chart last year, and after the Grammys, Chapman’s original began shooting up iTunes’s download chart.

After her debut LP, “Tracy Chapman,” was released in 1988 — and went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart — she released seven more studio albums. Her last, “Our Bright Future,” came out in 2008. Jon Pareles of The New York Times described it as a collection of “morose love songs” as well as “her latest utopian vision of a world without war or greed.”

What has she been up to?

Since then her appearances have been few and far between. She performed at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012 , playing for the blues guitarist Buddy Guy, who was one of the honorees that year. She turned up at David Letterman’s final shows in 2015, doing “Stand by Me.” And on the eve of the presidential election in 2020, she appeared on “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” performing “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” from her debut album; after the last notes, she moved aside to reveal a sign behind her saying “vote.”

Last year, as Combs’s version of “Fast Car” became a surprise hit, the tune won song of the year at the Country Music Association Awards, making Chapman the first Black songwriter to win that prize. (She did not appear to accept it.)

A quiet life in San Francisco

Chapman is so private that many San Franciscans were surprised to learn after the Grammys that she lives in their city. She’s not part of the socialite scene or involved in politics, and she seems to mostly avoid major events.

But she can still be seen around town. The owner of a bookstore where she sometimes shops posted on X after her Grammys performance that she was “so down to earth in real life” when spotted buying food for her dog at a local pet store. (The post was later deleted.) Others have observed her standing in line at a popular bakery. Before the pandemic, she served as a judge for a high school scholarship program run by the founders of “Beach Blanket Babylon,” a now-defunct cabaret.

Lee Houskeeper, a public relations executive and music promoter in San Francisco, said he had met Chapman a few times at her studio and rehearsal space. He said she was very nice and that they had chatted about performing artists they both know.

A state assemblyman, Matt Haney, said he’s only seen her once, at a school board meeting in 2018 when he served on that board. She was there to support the school district naming a theater on its property after her friend Sydney Goldstein. It now houses San Francisco’s popular City Arts & Lectures program.

“She didn’t make a big deal of being there,” Haney recalled in an interview. “I don’t think she even came to the mic.”

Could she return?

The Grammys performance instantly became a career highlight for Chapman, and it could well stoke demand for her return to recording and touring. This year she is also nominated for the Songwriters Hall of Fame . If she is inducted — a good bet — that could provide another opportunity for a public appearance.

“There’s always been demand for Tracy Chapman to return to performing,” Rich McLaughlin, the program director at WFUV, a radio station in New York that celebrates songwriters, said in an email. “Whether or not it will increase the chances of her doing so, however, is difficult to predict.”

Chapman’s longtime fans may have their fingers crossed, but they have also learned patience.

“Tracy Chapman is an artist who follows her muse, not market demand,” McLaughlin added. “If she based her decision solely on demand, she’d have returned to touring years ago.”

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a public relations executive and music promoter. He is Lee Houskeeper, not Housekeeper.

An earlier version of this article described incorrectly Tracy Chapman’s Kennedy Center Honors performance in 2012. She performed in tribute to Buddy Guy, not with him.

How we handle corrections

Ben Sisario covers the music industry. He has been writing for The Times since 1998. More about Ben Sisario

Heather Knight is a reporter in San Francisco, leading The Times’s coverage of the Bay Area and Northern California. More about Heather Knight

Find the Right Soundtrack for You

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SZA’s intergalactic escape, and 8 more new songs .

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Residente’s new album is a Critic’s Pick .

Covering the rise of Tracy Chapman. Hear the Popcast .

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