I've written a completely unrelated science-fiction/horror story set to be published in a forthcoming anthology. I'm being paid for the story. Should this be anywhere on my resume?

I'm applying for a paralegal position.

  • Well done on getting published – Kilisi Jan 20 '16 at 22:26
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    Not sure why people are voting to close this as a personal advice question: the question is clear, useful and fairly universal. I'm moving the paralegal position to the body of the post as that might be attracting the close votes. – Lilienthal Jan 21 '16 at 9:04

Some people include a "hobby" section on their CVs. It may depend on the industry you're in, but I generally think that this sort of thing is more appropriate on the resumes of recent graduates who need something to fill the space/stand out.

Look at it this way: if I'm hiring you as a paralegal why would I care that you write fiction? Even if you're quite good at it, it's not going to make you a better paralegal.

Consider some of the implications of including this on your resume:

  • It could lead the reader to believe that you're a daydreamer.

  • Also keep in mind that some people have a bias against certain types of novels, and might consider sci-fi to be a "geek thing", and make assumptions about your personality, etc.

You want to maximize your chances of getting an interview, and wow-ing those potential employers with your charming personality, so try to remove as many opportunities for negative bias as possible from your resume.

Only include this information if writing skills are important in your line of work (no idea for paralegals). In that case a line such as this might be beneficial:

Great written communication skills; Published author of several short stories in local publications

I would still leave out the details, however. If they're interested about that topic they can then bring it up in the interview.

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  • Thanks. I had sort of figured that might be the case: that it's interesting, but mostly irrelevant to the position. I hadn't thought about the biases involved, I'll definitely want to avoid that. I am a recent graduate looking to pad my resume, but perhaps it's unwise to do so even so. – J A Jan 20 '16 at 19:39
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    @JA - you probably have a line in there about your "strong communication skills". I would add a statement similar to the one I wrote in my post. That way you're bragging about your accomplishment (and being a published author is a pretty big deal, kudos!), while not revealing too much, or having it detract from your work-relevant experience. – AndreiROM Jan 20 '16 at 19:46
  • Thanks again! I think I'll keep it near the end, something like that alongside my other skills. I appreciate the help. – J A Jan 20 '16 at 19:49
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    +1, tl;dr: your resume is a marketing document: add stuff that makes you a better candidate, don't add stuff that doesn't. – Lilienthal Jan 21 '16 at 9:02

I wouldn't list this if it's irrelevant to the position unless I put it under 'Other interests' or something similar. It's not suitable to list it as Work Experience.

I have written and sold both fiction and non fiction. I only listed the non-fiction because they were sort of relevant in that they were bi-lingual technical manuals which showcased a skill that may be useful to the company.

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No. When I see stuff like that on a resume, the candidate becomes a lot less attractive. The last thing I want is a worker who is leaving at 4:59pm every day so he can rush home to do guitar practice for his band or whatever. It's fine for people to have hobbies, but when that hobby is the person's #1 priority that is a problem.

Another issue is that stuff like that goes to personal self image. It kind of says to the reader: "I see myself as a novelist." That is not the message you want to convey to an employer. The message you want to convey to the employer is, "I see myself as a legal professional."

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  • What about someone who leaves at 5 pm every day to partake in their hobby? – Andrew Whatever Jan 20 '16 at 23:25
  • @AndrewWhatever That is slightly better. You are another guitarist aren't you? – Socrates Jan 20 '16 at 23:29
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    Wow, you must also not like people with families or pets. – Amy Blankenship Jan 21 '16 at 16:19
  • @AmyBlankenship What I like is my business not going bankrupt. The businesses that have lots of "hobbyists" in them may have a different opinion. In my experience there are not a lot of those, because they go OUT OF BUSINESS, and when they do, everybody is fired first. – Socrates Jan 21 '16 at 16:21
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    If you can't run a business where people are allowed to have lives, maybe you should go out of business. Hobbyists are far more able to put their hobby aside if you need them to stay late than someone whose mother is dying or child broke her arm at school (or has a soccer game) or pet needs to be let out before it pees on the floor. Are you going to not hire people with mothers, or daughters, or pets? – Amy Blankenship Jan 21 '16 at 16:39

The advice I'm always given is to customize your resume for every job you apply to. Enhance what's relevant, downplay or omit what is not.

If the paralegal position is at a publishing house or literary magazine, then your story credit might show your interest and experience in that field.

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