In my six months of advising my fellow undergraduates in building their resumes, I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve heard: “Oh, I’ve done_______ for so many years, so I just threw it under the Interests section in the bottom??” Okay, maybe not those exact words, but the same sentiment: people are afraid to show their interests on their resume. Honestly, I get it – why would an employer care about my hobbies? Don’t they want to read about my more relevant experiences?
In response to that second question, yes – your relevant experiences to whatever you’re applying for are definitely the most important part of your resume. However, in response to that first question – think about this. Every single applicant has relevant experiences and recruiters are going to keep seeing these similar skill-sets over and over, inundating your resume in a pool of forgetability. This is where your extra-curriculars can sneak in and help you float out of this pool by adding in a sense of your unique personality. Are you on a tap-dance team? Have you been practicing archery since you were four years old? Did you find a community in a culture group on-campus? Do you volunteer at the local elderly home? Whatever it is that you do outside of your classes, jobs, or internships, there are always transferable skills that you can pull from this experiences and translate into the workplace. Furthermore, these experiences almost humanize you – they remind employers that you’re not just another job-seeker – you’re your own individual with fresh perspectives!
Questions you can ask yourself to help market your extra-curricular experience: how long have I been involved? Have I taken up any leadership positions? Was I ever in-charge of a project? How many people did I have to work with? Did I have to pay close to attention to detail? Did I have to use time-management to keep a balanced schedule? Using that archery example, what could you possibly market about shooting arrows? Skills that immediately come to mind – self-discipline needed to keep practicing all those years, attention-to-detail to ensure arrows were shot safely and accurate into the bullseye, mentorship of beginners, determination to enter competitions, and more. This example would definitely add qualifications for someone applying to any positions that require independent work, attention-to-detail, or working with others. Archery, in this case, could supplement any other relevant experience described while adding that personal flair and narrative that recruiters want to see.
Extra-curriculars thus can serve as modes of expressing soft skills like focus, motivation, commitment, helping others, and more! However, I know not everyone will immediately have an experience to add onto their resume or may not have been that involved. That’s okay – just don’t be afraid to get involved with something you enjoy because you don’t think it’ll add to your resume! Nearly any experience can become a marketable and worthwhile learning experience. There’s beauty in doing what you love and being you are – and there are jobs out there that want that beauty in their workplace!