College Students and Grads: How to Highlight Extracurricular Activities on your Resume

In the midst of a college job search, candidates tend to apply to as many jobs as they possibly can. Part of the reason being they want to find the true fit because they’ll spend a great deal of time at that job. The other reason for applying to multiple positions is they know they’re up against some fierce competition! Potential employers file through countless resumes a day. The ultimate question is how to distinguish yourself from the rest of the college students in your class. One way around this is to strategically highlight your extracurricular activities! Here’s how to approach placing on your resume:

Add a Section

If you choose to include extracurricular activities on your resume, create a section that will highlight volunteer experience or participation in organizations. Follow a similar format to your work experience section by listing the name or the organization and the dates you participated. In the description portion, try to share specific, quantifiable outcomes. For instance, “fed 196 families” or “organized 100 volunteers.” This will easily catch the eye of a potential employer!

Relate the Activity to Work Experience

Let’s say you held a position in a student organization or led a volunteer project. Not only was this a great learning experience, but it could also directly apply to jobs you’ll be seeking out. Instead of listing your title as “Volunteer” or “Student Newspaper Member,” give yourself more credit by using “Project Leader” or “President of School Newspaper.” In the description, explain the skills you’ve acquired that coincide with the job description. For instance, if you’re applying for a marketing position, explain your writing experience at the newspaper and touch on the finer points of leading as School Newspaper President. The more skills you can extract from your extracurricular activities that apply to the job, the better!

Be Picky

Take a second to think about all the sports you’ve played, the mini volunteer projects you’ve been part of and organizations you’re passionate about. For most, the list of extracurricular activities can be lengthy. So, which ones do you choose? While our initial reaction is to jot down the most recent 3-hour-long volunteer project, there’s a strategy to choosing extracurricular activities. Take a long look at the job description and think about what skills and experiences will be most applicable. That being said, don’t include something from 15 years ago, but be more tactical about your choices. After all, this is taking up precious space on your resume so you want it to be really useful!

Now that you have an idea of how to highlight extracurricular activities, which ones are best? Here’s a few activities that will truly stand out to an employer:

Community Service or Volunteer Work

Giving your time to your community through volunteering shows selflessness, initiative and the ability to manage your time outside of a busy schedule. Employers will love to see that you want to positively impact an organization, and make sure to touch on the skills and experiences you learned along the way.

Mentorship Programs

Mentorship programs can show employers that you will be a great cultural fit because of your ability to work with others. In college, I participated in College Mentors for Kids. This is a program where college students have the opportunity to develop relationships and mentor young kids in an after-school program. I include this experience on my resume because it taught me how to actively listen, be an advocate for another person and give the best advice possible. Basically, I developed deeper emotional intelligence from the program.

Student Organizations

There are a ton of skills and experiences learned through participation in a student organization. If you held a leadership position, discuss the responsibilities and the lessons you learned about working alongside other students. If you helped plan a major event for the organization, talk about the management skills you learned. If you merely joined because it interested you, chat about why you were passionate about joining. There are so many possibilities when it comes to highlighting your participation in a student organization. Make sure to hit the points that the employer will be most interested in.

Extracurricular activities can potentially set you apart from many candidates. Being able to place them on your resume the correct way can help lead you to landing your next job. Remember, be mindful of the format and activities that you choose to include! Do you any extracurricular activity suggestions? Please share below:

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