Artwork by: Alisa Frolova
Extracurricular activities are not just important for college admissions. They also go a long way in helping you secure employment. Read on to learn about the top 10 extracurricular activities worth mentioning in your resume.
In today’s world, most employers seek employees with a wide range of transferable skills. If you’re applying for a job and you want to stand out among all other applicants, highlight your skills in your resume. And this is where extracurricular activities come into play.
Extracurricular activities often provide proof to the employer that you have what it takes to succeed in your job role. If you’re wondering which extracurricular activities to mention in your resume, we have all the information you need, including:
What are extracurricular activities?
10 examples of extracurricular activities
How to put extracurricular activities on your resume
Where to put extracurricular activities on your resume
Research by Ohio State University indicates that being selective over your extracurricular activities can be important. Findings demonstrated that students who completed one sport and one other non-sport extracurricular activity were more successful in getting into selective colleges than those who did zero or multiple extracurricular activities.
Extracurricular activities refer to any activity completed outside of the school, college, or university curriculum, often involving other individuals and usually with a target to achieve. This could range from participating in sports, clubs, and professional organizations to completing volunteer work and community service activities.
Extracurricular activities are a great way to demonstrate transferable skills to an employer, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. Mentioning them is also important if you don’t have sufficient job experience, such as fresh graduates looking to enter the job market.
With so many extracurricular activities available, it can be difficult to decide which ones to choose. Think about what you're good at, what you enjoy doing, what you would like to learn more about, and what aligns with your long-term career goals. Whenever possible, only include extracurricular activities that directly relate to the job you’re targeting.
Employers are always on the lookout for well-rounded employees, who are passionate about their interests, and demonstrate an ambition to succeed. Here’s 10 extracurricular activities you should consider adding to your resume to showcase these attributes:
Whether you’ve volunteered once in your life or you dedicate every weekend to volunteer work, you can put it on your resume. Volunteer work shows your potential employer that you’re willing to go above and beyond to help others. It also provides you with essential workplace skills, such as self motivation, leadership, compassion, and teamwork.
Volunteer options include working for local nonprofits, community organizations, and hospitals.
If you’ve been active in sports throughout your life, you probably know a lot about determination and perseverance. Team and group sports allow you to work with different individuals to achieve a shared goal, which is the crux of teamwork in a corporate setting. Sports also require you to constantly adapt to challenging situations and motivate others to succeed.
Whether you played on a semi-professional, collegiate, or intramural team, or took private lessons, feel free to include it. From baseball to basketball to golf and many more, the options are almost endless!
Members of a student council or government body build positive relationships at all levels via their excellent communication and leadership skills. Being part of student government allows you to hone many skills crucial for your professional life, such as collaboration, public speaking, and conflict resolution. Mentioning this extracurricular activity gives your employer an indication that you probably have what it takes to succeed in a fast-paced environment that thrives on team spirit.
Administrative organizations you might have been involved with include community government, local youth boards, or student council.
Academic activities focus on an academic subject and can include club and competitive teams as well as peer tutoring. If you’re part of a club that is relevant to your target role, you can showcase this on your resume to emphasize your passion for the industry. Peer tutoring demonstrates to an employer that you likely have strong leadership, mentorship, team-building, and communication skills.
A few examples of academic activities worth mentioning include math competitions, clubs (e.g. architecture, math, English), quiz tournaments, and spelling bees.
Being involved in theater, music, dance, or any creative activity allows you to think outside the box, become flexible, and improve your observation skills. Performing arts also helps improve your communication and public speaking skills. There are plenty of recruiters looking for creative, detail-oriented people good at brainstorming solutions.
A few arts to consider include poetry, choreography, art, drama, photography, and orchestra.
Giving back to your community is an extremely rewarding extracurricular activity that develops your interpersonal, teamwork, and leadership skills. Fostering a sense of community is vital in the workplace, where cooperation and collaboration ensure that people and the company thrive.
A work-study program provides part-time job opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students who need financial assistance. These programs include both on-campus and off-campus jobs. Working a part-time job while finishing your education shows that you have remarkable time management skills and resilience. It also allows you to learn certain technical skills that your employer might be looking for.
A small list of work-study jobs includes community assistant, campus ambassador, library assistant, and research assistant.
As the saying goes, “traveling broadens your horizons.” If you’ve lived outside of your home country as part of a student exchange program, for example, you’ll have learned a lot about the other country’s culture, customs, and people. This knowledge is likely to make you more accepting of others and capable of communicating with diverse individuals.
There’s also the likelihood that you’ve learned another language during your time abroad or, if you're studying a language, maybe you joined a club to enhance your skills. Language skills are extremely valuable to employers and could set you apart from the competition. African American Student Clubs, American Sign Language Club, and clubs based on languages (Chinese, French, German, etc) are a few examples.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to being a member of a sorority or fraternity than partying. Many sorority/fraternity members participate in social and community initiatives and acquire strong teamwork, delegation, and leadership capabilities. Most sororities and fraternities have an extensive alumni too, which can help you network and look for jobs.
If you’re in one of these organizations, you might’ve contributed to charitable fundraising, community service initiatives, and/or sports tournaments.
Relevant hobbies and interests can enhance your candidacy and give the hiring manager a glimpse into your personality. Perhaps you’re passionate about technology and launched your own website, or maybe you love gardening and have redesigned your grandparents’ backyard.
If you’re targeting jobs in these areas, highlighting projects such as blogging, gardening, podcasting, yoga, or website design on your resume will definitely be worthwhile.
So, what’s the best way to showcase your extracurricular activities on your resume? Here’s three tips to present this information in the best light:
Cherry pick extracurricular activities most relevant to the job you’re applying for following research on the role, organization, and company culture. For example, if the company is looking for a creative candidate with strong attention to detail, you may want to talk about a notable art project you contributed to and the positive outcomes.
When writing your extracurricular activities, add a line underneath each activity to highlight the key skills you acquired. These skills should be relevant to the job you’re applying to. For example, if you were the captain of your college football team, you can mention that you learned valuable leadership and team management skills that you can apply to any professional environment.
Write all of your extracurricular activities in chronological order. With each activity, mention the name of the organization, your title at that activity, and the duration of the activity. You can also include any accomplishments you achieved and use power verbs with your achievements to create more impact.
After deciding which extracurricular activities to mention, you may wonder where you should include them in your resume. Here are four ideal sections:
If extracurricular activities are crucial for the job you’re applying to or you don’t have prior work experience, add these activities in your work experience section.
UCLA, Department of Fine Arts, 2019 - 2020
Wrote several short stories that were published in UCLA Chronicles.
Conducted 5 workshops for new students on the art of storytelling.
Won the prestigious Storyteller of the Year Award 2019.
If your extracurricular activities are closely tied to your degree, add them to the education section in your resume.
Bachelor of Science in Applied Accounting University of Wisconsin, 2020 (GPA: 3.9) Vice President - Accounting Club
Designed banners and brochures for KP Associates, a local tax consulting firm.
Arranged the university’s annual Financial Planning Seminar, 2019.
If you’ve been part of multiple extracurricular activities and each activity has a number of awards associated with it, you can create a separate accomplishments section. This could follow your education section toward the end of your resume.
President, University of Alabama Students Association, 2021
Won the UA Outstanding Student Leadership Award in 2021.
Introduced the UA Rides Program to improve student safety on- and off-campus.
Alpha Chi Omega Honors Society, 2020
Led fundraising efforts to secure $10K toward a community playground redevelopment.
Captain of football team, University of Alabama, 2019 - 2021
Awarded responsibility as Football Team Captain across three consecutive years.
Won UA Football Player of the Year in 2020 and 2021.
If you’ve participated in several extracurricular activities that don’t neatly fit into any of the above sections, you can create a standalone Interests section.
Member of the Rotaract Club of Orange County, 2020.
Volunteer, St. Jude’s Hospital, 2019.
Avid biker, runner, and swimmer.
If you’re looking to create or improve your resume to land your dream job, check out Career.io’s Resume Builder to get started.
Adding extracurricular activities to your resume is a good way to focus on your transferable skills relevant to your target role and industry.
When hiring employees, most organizations look for individuals who can add value and demonstrate ambition. This is where your extracurricular activities can come in handy.
There are several ways you can add extracurricular activities to your resume. You can showcase them in your work experience, education, accomplishments, or interests section.
Helen is an experienced freelance writer with a strong background in job search and career advice, in particular resume best practices, interviewing, and personal and professional development. Before Career.io, Helen worked for high-profile recruitment firms and in the field of HR management, so she has a strong sense of what recruiters are looking for in a potential employee as well as experience in supporting career growth and development.