It is hard to discern from all the online articles and other sources whether or not hobbies are useful on the resume. The variation in response seems to depend on the field or profession for which you are applying. However, one overriding fact seems to be that if you do choose to include hobbies on your resume, do so cautiously and with intent.
The first thing to note is that by printing interests on your resume you are taking a risk. It is up to you to decide if it is worth the risk. There is no definite answer on what fields will receive hobbies on the resume the most positively, so before including this section, do your research.
Thoroughly research the company, the profession, and the people you will be submitting the resume to or interviewing with. This research will help you to know what information to include by deciding what interests are the most applicable. If it is an interest that relates to what the company does it may not be a bad idea to include it. Interests can be conversation starters, especially if it is something in common with the employer. Rather than putting common interests on the resume it might be better to bring them up in discussion during the interview period.
In addition to keeping hobbies applicable, it is also important to be able to back them up. Do not put anything on there that you do not actually do or enjoy. A common example of this is golf. If a person puts golf on their resume, they had better be able to play golf. As golf is used as a networking opportunity in some fields, it is important that the person actually knows how to play golf so as not to embarrass themselves or their employer. Misleading an employer about ability or interests will only get you into trouble.
Should you decide to include an interest section on your resume, make sure to be strategic and specific. This means do not simply list interest such as, "travel, cooking, reading, etc." Word this section very carefully and make sure that you are including things that will either be useful for the job or that will shine a positive light on you as a potential employee.
An interest section on your resume can help make you stand out among job candidates. Just make sure that it is making you stand out for the right reasons.
If you are looking for help formulating your resume, feel free to stop by the Career Center, on the second floor of the Dahl Centennial Union, or give us a call at (563) 387-1025, to set up an appointment.