How to Choose Extra-Curricular Activities for a Resume
Updated 28 April 2023
Including extra-curricular activities on a resume can enhance an application when you have limited work experience. Doing this helps give employers a better idea of your interests and communicates your relevant skills and experience. Highlighting extra-curricular activities such as hobbies, sports or interests that aren't part of an official curriculum or educational program may increase your chance of getting an interview. In this article, we explain how to write extra-curricular activities for a resume, list the benefits of including them and offer advice on when it's appropriate to supplement a resume with extra-curricular activities.
How to choose extra-curricular activities for a resume
If you want to know how to choose extra-curricular activities for a resume, here are some steps you can take:
1. Review the job description
The first step for including activities on your resume is to try to match those you're thinking of including with the job you're applying for. Look over the job description to better understand what employers want to see in a candidate. Look for skills they mention or experience they want candidates to have. Once you have a comprehensive understanding of what employers are looking for, you can create a resume that corresponds to their requirements.
2. Consider which activities could supplement your application
With the job description in mind, brainstorm activities you think communicate relevant skills, personality traits and experience to employers. You might choose to include extra-curricular activities that relate directly to the role or include them to tell employers more about yourself. Whatever your motivation, look to include things that support your goals and communicate who you are to employers.
Here are some examples of extra-curricular activities you might include on a resume:
extra-curricular language studies
hobbies you're passionate about.
3. Narrow down your list
If you take part in a range of extra-curricular activities, it's not always necessary to list all of them on your resume. Instead, choose ones you think are most relevant to the position that you're applying for, especially if you're planning to use them in place of employment experience. So, if a job description says the company is looking to hire a team player, listing sports activities where you played as part of a team might be sensible. Try to choose about three activities to include.
4. Include extra-curricular activities in your resume
When you've decided which activities you want to include, list them on your resume. Most people choose to write their extra-curricular activities near the end of their resume, after the description of their experience, skills and education. Because these activities are often additional details, listing them last means they're less likely to distract from the other content on your application.
Whenever possible, try to use interests and activities to strengthen your resume and support your qualifications rather than becoming the main content itself. You can label the section to help employers know what it contains. You could label it interests, hobbies or extra-curricular activities. Here's an example:
Australia Premier Youth Choir, 2017–Current
Student council secretary, 2020–Current
French club president, 2021–Current.
5. Review your resume
When you've finished updating this section of your resume, it's a good idea to review your content for correct spelling, grammar and formatting. It's often a good practice to review your entire resume thoroughly to show employers you have excellent attention to detail and take the application process seriously. Consider asking someone else to look over your resume and get their opinion on whether they think the extra-curricular activities you listed promote your skills and aptitudes effectively. They might have helpful advice you can implement to strengthen your resume.
Benefits of listing extra-curricular activities on a resume
Here's a closer look at some of the potential benefits of including extra-curricular activities on your resume:
They help employers get to know you
One potential benefit of including extra-curricular activities on your resume is that it tells employers more about you and what interests you. Employers often get a large volume of applications for their open positions. They review information about candidates' education, skills and experience, but not all these resumes tell them about the applicants' personalities and hobbies. Listing extra-curricular activities can offer those reading your resume a more complete picture of your personality and values. This can help them determine if you'd fit in well with the organisation's culture.
They can strengthen your resume
If you're a student and have limited work experience, extra-curricular activities can be a way to add content to your resume. If you're newly qualified or relatively inexperienced, you can use these activities to show your qualifications. Activities can help communicate relevant experience, even if it's not work-related. For example, saying you're part of a language club suggests you can speak that language. Being a counsellor at a youth camp might show employers you're a responsible leader. Carefully consider the activities you list and select ones that show employers you're a qualified and eager candidate.
They show important skills
Activities you take part in can help you build important skills. Some activities communicate capability in teamwork, communication and commitment. It's helpful to list the years you took part in a specific activity so employers understand your dedication to certain activities. You might also include a skills section in your resume to further show your strengths to employers.
When to list extra-curricular activities on a resume
Here are some instances where you might choose to include extra-curricular activities on your resume:
When the activities relate to the position
Sometimes, you might find a career that relates directly to one of your extra-curricular activities. In these instances, listing the relevant interests or activities can show employers your relevant experience and interest in a related field. For example, if you're applying for a job at a plant nursery, your participation in the gardening club might be beneficial to your application. Always try to consider the job description so you can list the best activities for the role.
When you have limited relevant experience
If you're still a student or have little work experience, listing extra-curricular activities helps create useful content. In these instances, you might choose to list them the same way most people list their work experience on a resume. You can write the activity name and list some of your primary duties as a participant. Always try to make sure your inclusions are relevant and relate directly to your qualifications for a position.
Related: Writing a Resume with No Experience
When you want to communicate specific skills
Sometimes, the skills you need for an extra-curricular activity can be relevant to your preferred position. You can convey language, computer, communication, teamwork and leadership skills by listing extra-curricular items. If a prospective employer contacts you to schedule an interview, you may want to prepare to talk about your interests and hobbies.
When you're still pursuing your education
Extra-curricular activities refer specifically to activities that happen when you're outside of school. Often, if you include these on your resume, it's because you're still pursuing your education. If you're not still pursuing your education, you can still list these activities but list them instead as interests or hobbies.
Listing other relevant details about your education helps make it clear to employers that you're still in school. For example, you might list when you expect to graduate from secondary school or senior secondary school, depending on which you're completing. You can also list your achievement level or grade scale to help show positive academic performance. Listing extra-curricular items on a college job application, like if you're applying to work in academia, can be especially relevant.
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