Top Extracurricular Activities to Improve Your Resume

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 19, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Including extracurricular activities on your resume can play a vital role in expressing your personality to potential employers. Showing aspects of your personality and hobbies to employers can help the, understand how well your interests align with the work environment. Extracurricular activities are also beneficial to your resume if you have a limited work history, but still want to show potential employers your non-work-related skills, interests and experience. In this article, we discuss what extracurricular activities are, why it's important to include them, and how to integrate extracurricular activities into your resume.

What are extracurricular activities?

Extracurricular activities are recreational interests that aren't connected to a specific job, academic grade, or course of study. They are activities meant to develop vital life skills that workplaces, classrooms, or formal learning environments can't always teach. Extracurricular activities serve a very important purpose in your resume because they give potential employers a closer look at you, and who you are aside from your grades, work experience, or letters of recommendation.

Related: Using Extracurricular Activities on a Resume (With Examples)

Why you should include extracurricular activities in your resume

There are many reasons to include extracurricular activities in your resume. Some of them include:

  • Showing your employers that you have transferable skills

  • Highlighting your best qualities outside of academic work

  • Highlighting your people skills

  • Showing your passion for the job

  • Sharing interesting experiences and accomplishments

  • Exemplifying maturity

  • Showing inclusiveness

  • Providing examples of group experience or other relevant skills

  • Sharing personality and interests

  • Showing why you'd be a good culture fit

Related: 18 People Skills for the Workplace

Top extracurricular activities for your resume

The following extracurricular activities can help prove to employers that you have transferable skills relevant to most jobs. Including them in your resume can increase your chances of being considered for the job. Some activities you can include on your resume are:

Volunteering

Volunteering is any activity that you willingly engage in to benefit an individual, a group of people, or the environment without compensation. Including volunteer work on your resume shows your commitment to helping your community and your willingness to serve others. This is an appreciated endeavour that can offer you self fulfilment but also help you build your resume. Employers often value volunteer work highly because it can be a powerful sign of selflessness and dedication to a goal. It can also reveal a lot about your passions.

You can volunteer for different projects irrespective of your expertise and resources. One way to get started as a volunteer is to search for volunteer organizations around your local area. Consider looking for causes you already care about like animal rescues, environmental work, or youth programs. If you have a career in mind when you start looking for volunteer opportunities, consider positions that can grow your skills in areas like:

  • Commitment

  • Motivation

  • Teamwork

  • Proactivity

  • Selflessness

  • Empathy

  • Ingenuity

Related: Tips for Listing Volunteer Work on Resume

Academic clubs or societies

Academic clubs are clubs formed with the approval of an educational institution to group students with similar interests together. This allows them to find communities with shared goals and grow their knowledge and interests outside the classroom. Because students do a lot of the planning and organizing in academic clubs, it allows them to fulfil responsibilities and gain transferable skills that can be beneficial to employers.

Clubs can range from academic clubs to environmental awareness societies. Joining societies can be an excellent way to improve the extracurricular activity section of your resume. It can show how you spend your time outside of your work and studies. Making inquiries about academic societies in your school or elsewhere to learn how to join them can be very helpful in improving your resume. Groups often offer leadership roles like club treasurer, social media manager, or even president. Achieving these roles can give you an impressive resume advantage. Clubs and societies can help you grow skills like:

  • Leadership

  • Teamwork

  • Time management

  • Communication

  • Collaboration

Related: 12 Employability Skills and How To Develop Them

Student politics

Having a record of active participation in student politics can prove to be a major boost to your resume. Student government provides a variety of opportunities for student body members to gather invaluable experience. You can add these skills to your resume to show that you have relevant transferrable skills a hiring manager requires. Engaging actively in student politics shows that you are passionate about your community. It also shows that you can take part actively in any activity meant for the advancement of an organization. Consider searching for campus civil societies that reflect your political ideologies and join them.

Engaging actively in student politics helps you develop and show these skills:

  • Leadership

  • Teamwork

  • Effective communication

  • Decision making

  • Active problem-solving

  • Public speaking

  • Collaboration

  • Organizational skills

Related: How To Improve Your Management Skills

Sports

Participating in sports can communicate resilience, determination, and discipline to potential employers. Sports can also teach valuable teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. All these show your employer that you are a competitive and motivated candidate. Many schools and communities have opportunities to join sports teams.

The following are some skills you can develop by participating in sporting extracurricular activities. Those skills can include:

  • Teamwork

  • Competitiveness

  • Dedication

  • Leadership

  • Effective communication

  • Work ethic

  • Commitment

  • Reliability

It is easy to engage in sporting extracurricular activities because most schools and communities have dedicated sports teams. When searching for a sports-related extracurricular activity, consider identifying the sporting activities you enjoy and engage in them actively and consistently. Having a strong willingness to practice, learn, and grow can build your confidence and attract the attention of future employers.

Civic and community engagements

Civic and community engagements are activities that contribute to the development of your immediate community. These include volunteering, voting, taking part in group activities, and working with local legislative authorities. These engagements let you share and develop your expertise and skills while also providing a great opportunity to learn from others.

Community engagement can help you develop skills like:

  • Communication skills

  • Resourcefulness

  • Empathy

  • Interpersonal skills

There are often many opportunities to engage in community development. You can even lead your own initiatives by identifying aspects of your community where you would like to help, searching for individuals with similar interests, reaching out to them, and investigating how to affect local change. Most often, you can find other people with similar interests and intentions.

Related: 4 Ideas on Where to Put Volunteer Experience on Your Resume

Arts

Engaging in artistic endeavours, like writing, painting, photography, drawing, sculpting, acting and design can reveal a lot about your personality and outside interests. It can also show potential employers that you're a creative person. Creative thinkers often have many transferrable skills like problem-solving that can lead to innovative solutions in the workplace. Consider putting experience like awards, art shows, and film festivals on your resume to show employers your proficiency in the following areas:

  • Innovation

  • Confidence

  • Creativity

  • Work ethic

  • Attention to detail

How to integrate extracurricular activities into your resume

if you are interested in including your extracurricular activities on your resume, here are some steps you can take:

1. Determine relevant activities

The first step to including extracurricular activities on your resume is to determine which of your activities are most relevant to the position you're applying for. Consider being selective about the activities you list and research the company and the position to learn more about what they're looking for in a candidate. For example, if the job posting advertises for an excellent team player, highlighting your experience in sports teams or clubs could be a good way to show employers you have relevant experience.

2. Emphasize transferable skills

In your resume, consider providing a brief description beneath each activity you list. In your description, be sure to highlight skills you learned that apply to the position you're seeking. For example, if you started or participated in a club, were a captain of a sports team or got promoted within your volunteer organization, you might explain that you learned valuable leadership skills that you can apply to a professional environment.

Related: Transferrable Skills (With Definition and Examples)

3. Be specific

As you format your resume, try to emulate a classic design that lists your experience in chronological order. Be sure to include the name of the organization, group or society you worked with, what your role was and the length of your participation. Provide a brief description of your contributions. List any awards, public praise or notable accomplishments as well. Be specific in your descriptions to help your employers better understand your experience, your qualifications, and your personality.

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