Maybe you think employers don’t care if you were president of your sorority, or how you successfully managed to donate and deliver 15,000 pairs of shoes to children in Africa.
Think again. Whether you’re applying to college or your first entry-level job, having extracurricular activities on your resume will put you ahead of the game.
Although I strongly suggest getting involved in extracurriculars, it’s good to be aware that many college admissions offices and recruiters frown upon loading up on too many activities. So don’t feel like you need to sign up for everything your school offers. It won’t contribute to your overall goal, and juggling all those activities will surely hurt your GPA. If you’re in high school, pick one or two after-school activities you think you’d be interested in pursuing during college. I played sports during fall and winter seasons in high school, which left me enough time to pursue my journalistic interests during the spring.
If you’re in college, you probably have much more time to see what activities interest you, so don’t be afraid to dip your hand in a few things. During my first week as a college freshman I signed up for at least six different activities. Most colleges won’t make you to decide on a major until the end of sophomore year, so make sure to explore all of your interests while you still have time. When you choose a major, your exploration of different classes and activities will have helped you choose a field of study you’ll be happy with.
So what kinds of activities should you put on your resume exactly? Here is a good list of the ones colleges and interviewers like to see.
Colleges and employers love hearing that you took a leadership position while in school. Whether you were student body president or head of the yearbook committee, showing you are willing to step up to the plate and be the head honcho shows employers you can handle responsibility and manage people. I never ran for class president, but I did work as a resident assistant on campus for two years; Being responsible for forty residents everyday won me big points with interviewers. It also provided me with great stories to tell.
Everyone appreciates a team player. If you’re a sports person, you most likely enjoy working with people to achieve goals. Getting involved in sports shows employers you have a competitive side, and in any career/industry—business especially—that’s a great quality to exhibit.
Do you enjoy coding and find yourself creating apps and other computer programs while your friends are busy watching the latest “Jersey Shore” episode? If you have a specific talent and apply it by freelancing or incorporating it into your daily life, be sure to mention it on your resume. Just because you’re still in high school or college doesn’t mean you can’t put your skills to good use and be successful. Success stories happen all the time. At 15 years old, a high school acquaintance of mine started a social networking site with her brother called myYearbook.com, while one student on my college campus started her own on-campus fashion magazine after recognizing students were interested in having one.
Like most students, you’re probably required to take a foreign language in high school and maybe even college. I suffered through Spanish for nine long years but being fluent in another language opens a lot of doors when you’re applying to jobs. If you’re interested in an international career or major, being proficient in a second language is important. If you aren’t required to take a language course in college, I suggest taking one anyway or studying abroad for a semester. If you’re fluent or even proficient in another language, state that on your resume. Just be sure not to exaggerate your proficiency level. Interviewers may end up testing you on the spot!
People like people who help others and it’s nice to show that you have interests outside your field of study. Describe the work you accomplished on your resume, whether it was building eco-houses or holding a food drive in your community during the holiday season. No volunteer assignment is too small to mention. Did you manage projects, write press releases, or train staff? The skills you’ve honed in this setting can be applicable to just about any job.
About the Author: Julie Feinerman is an editor at WetFeet. WetFeet provides career advice through our magazine, insider guide series, and website (WetFeet.com). Our mission is to equip job seekers with the advice, research, and inspiration to plan and achieve a successful career. For more information, visit WetFeet.com.