Extracurricular activities for resumes
Just because you joined 342 clubs at school doesn’t mean you should list them all on your resume.
As a college student preparing for your first “real” job interview, which types of extracurricular activities should you highlight on your resume? Or leave off?
Look no further.
We spoke with an assortment of experts about what extracurriculars matter most to employers and the transferable skills that go with them.
Hiring managers want quality over quantity
When it comes to extracurriculars, quality trumps quantity—ask any hiring manager or college admissions officer— plus, your resume only has room for so much on one page, the standard length for college students.
Although it’s fine to pursue extracurricular activities of all types, it can be attractive to employers to match technical experience with your intended job or field. For example, if you are crafting a resume to apply to be a computer programmer, list your involvement with programming and engineering clubs. This way, you’ll boast relevant extracurriculars but also be able to speak confidently about them (as opposed to that film club you joined for one semester).
“Make sure you know your resume well and have positive things to say about everything listed,” says Lydia Fayal, business development and marketing lead at OneSignal, a San Francisco-based customer engagement platform. “I need to believe you're the type of person who takes pride in their work.”
Hiring managers want you active in the community
Employers like to see volunteer experience on your resume since it may indicate that you could transition more easily toward becoming a part of their community at the company.
“We want to see candidates who are not only going further to learn, but also to share knowledge with others or do good in our communities—an important characteristic that we look for in our employees,” Ford Motor Company recruiting manager Laura Kurtz says.
Community service or professional and academic societies that volunteer for a cause are great to highlight on your resume. Mentoring and tutoring youth or peers are also terrific options since they illustrate teaching skills—important in some respect to almost any job.
Hiring managers want you to show how you’ve been a leader
The time to start showing off your leadership skills is during your first job out of college, right?
There is no better time to develop your leadership skills than in college with extracurricular activities. List on your resume that you are part of a fraternity, organized chapter meetings and proposed a new type of charity work. Were you a part of student government? Did you organize a forum to talk about an issue that students were passionate about? Include that, along with the project results.
Not only will this show the hiring manager valuable leadership experience—something Kurtz looks for in all her candidates—but you will also show him or her that you can manage more than just your course load.
“Did you organize a fundraiser or were you president of your sorority?” Kurtz asks. “Those are the types of extracurricular activities you should highlight on a resume. It’s also great to highlight roles where you have been creative or innovative.”
And when it comes time for the interview, have a few prepared (true) stories in your pocket about the times you demonstrated leadership within your extracurricular activities.
Hiring managers want you to show transferable skills
“It’s important to remember that other college activities like sports teams, leadership roles and charity work also helped you develop marketable job skills,” says Val Matta, co-owner of CareerShift, a career-management company in Jacksonville, Florida. “Using stories from these experiences gives new graduates an entirely different well to draw from and demonstrates what they can do.”
You may have thought you’ll wow your interviewer with a book-length resume, but the truth is recent college grads only need one solid page of accomplishments—leadership-demonstrating, job-relevant extracurricular experience included.
Polish your resume before sending it off
Knowing what to highlight on—and what to leave off—a resume isn't always black and white. There's plenty of gray area to throw you for a loop, especially if you're relatively new to the workforce. Need some help? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Let the experts at Monster help you craft a strong, impressive resume that can help you on your way to a great new job.