When & How to Add Extracurricular Activities to Your Resume

We’ve all been there—staring at a blank screen, trying to piece together the jigsaw puzzle that is your resume. And if you don’t have a ton of experience under your belt, it can be even more stressful figuring out what resume sections you need to include.

When you’re new to the job market or returning from a long pause, you don’t want to overlook an important aspect of your resume: extracurricular activities.

Extracurricular activities offer a unique glimpse into your character, skills, and passions; they tell a story about you that extends beyond your professional capacity and into who you are.

That’s why, in today’s post, you’re going to master the art of presenting your extracurricular activities in a way that makes potential employers sit up and take notice.

Understanding extracurricular activities

Extracurricular activities are things you do outside of your regular academic curriculum or professional work. In other words, these are activities you willingly participate in during your free time.

This could range from volunteering at a local shelter, participating in a football league, organizing cultural events, or leading a book club. But that doesn’t quite answer the big question: why (and when) should you put extracurricular activities on a resume?

While extracurricular activities might be good in some scenarios, they aren’t always needed.

Do you need extracurricular activities on a resume?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, Teal recommends including these resume activities in two specific scenarios:

1. When you have no relevant work history

If you’re a recent graduate or trying to break into a new industry with no relevant work experience, including extracurricular activities on your resume can be beneficial. These activities are proxies for professional accomplishments, highlighting your transferable skills and demonstrating your potential to succeed.

In this case, having a resume section dedicated to extracurriculars can be a good move. This is especially true for students who need to create their first resume with no professional history to draw from.

2. When the activity aligns closely with the job

In some cases, you might have a lot of work experience; still, an extracurricular activity aligns so closely with a prospective job that it becomes a powerful addition to your resume. This can be particularly true if the activity demonstrates skills or knowledge directly applicable to the position.

In these scenarios, incorporating extracurricular activities can add depth to your resume and make you a more compelling candidate. It’s not always necessary, but it can provide the extra push your resume needs to stand out in the right context.

But be judicious in your selections.

Only include those activities that add substantial value and refrain from adding activities to fill space. Resumes are short by nature, so make every word count.

Do you already have professional experience at the entry, mid, or senior level? If so, you might be better off with a traditional resume focusing on your achievements rather than your extracurriculars.

For that, you should consider getting started with Teal’s AI Resume Builder. It comes with built-in tools to help you create a personalized resume for each job application you send, regardless of your experience level.

Teal’s Keyword Checker, for example, highlights hard and soft skills mentioned in the job posting:

Teal's AI Resume Builder Matching Mode feature.

This allows you to craft a resume that gives you an advantage with Application Tracking Software (ATS), as you can use that language when describing professional accomplishments.

Even if you don’t have a lot of experience and need to add resume extracurricular activities, this feature can really help you identify the best way of describing your experiences.

Plus, when you use Teal’s generative AI to flesh out your resume sections, many of these words will be automatically injected into your text.

You can do the same with any section to help complete better, more impactful resumes in less time. Finally, simply use Teal to generate a cover letter that matches your resume and is perfectly tailored to the job you’re applying for.

But why not see it in action for yourself? Sign up for Teal’s AI Resume Builder and give it a shot.

9 examples of extracurricular activities on a resume (no job experience)

The following are examples of extracurricular activities that would work well on a resume if you don’t have lots of job experience. We’ve also added a list of transferable skills that these activities may convey.

1. Professional and industry-specific clubs

If you’re a member or leader of a club or organization related to your target job or industry, this is an excellent addition to your resume.

The transferable skills from these activities might include:

  • Industry knowledge: By participating in a professional club, you likely had access to industry-specific knowledge and resources that would be a good addition to your resume.
  • Leadership: If you take on a leadership role within the club, such as becoming a board member or organizing events, you demonstrate your ability to lead a team, project manage, and coordinate with diverse individuals.
  • Networking: Networking skills can be essential in business roles (like sales), where building and maintaining professional relationships is critical.
  • Communication: Whether you’re presenting at a meeting, writing for a club newsletter, or simply discussing topics with fellow members, you’re honing your verbal and written communication skills.

Of all the extracurricular activities on the list, participating in professional-related clubs should be a top priority for professional resumes.

2. Freelance projects

If you’ve undertaken freelance work or projects, especially ones relevant to your target role, these showcase initiative and practical application of skills. Taking on freelance projects can showcase your skills in many ways:

  • Proof of specific skills: Freelance projects, especially those relevant to your target role, demonstrate the practical application of your skills. For instance, creating a website or mobile app shows your technical skills if you’re an IT professional.
  • Problem-solving: As a freelancer, you need to identify and solve problems independently, indicating strong problem-solving abilities.
  • Self-management: Freelance work requires self-management, time management, and the ability to meet deadlines.

Like professional or industry-related clubs, this should be highlighted for any professional resume if you don’t have many professional accomplishments for your resume.

3. Volunteer Work

Volunteer work demonstrates a commitment to your community and, depending on the specific role, collaboration. But it also gives you a ton of transferable skills that could appeal to various roles:

  • Commitment: Regular volunteer work shows a commitment to helping others and giving back to your community. It reflects positively on your character and shows you are responsible and reliable.
  • Leadership and collaboration: If your volunteer work involves leading a team or project, it showcases your leadership abilities. Even if it didn’t, simply working as part of a volunteer team shows your ability to collaborate with others.
  • Project management: Coordinating a large fundraising event or similar initiative requires planning and execution, both of which are key project management skills.

Listing volunteer work on your resume can be particularly appealing to companies that do charity or non-profit work. Use Teal’s AI Resume Builder to create an exhaustive list of your volunteer work, and pick and choose relevant work as it relates to the job you’re applying for.

4. Sports teams or athletics

Being part of a sports team can show you’re a team player, dedicated, and in some cases, have leadership skills.

Participation in sports teams provides several transferable skills:

  • Teamwork: Sports inherently involve working as part of a team, demonstrating your ability to cooperate and collaborate with others.
  • Dedication: Regular participation in a sport shows your dedication and commitment, indicating you are someone who can be counted on.
  • Leadership: If you were a captain or took on any leadership role, it showcases your ability to motivate others and lead a team to achieve a common goal.

You don’t have to be the star quarterback of your football team to add this to your resume. Any team you were a part of can give you transferable skills that any hiring manager would find desirable.

5. Event Organization

If you’ve been involved in organizing events in college or in your community, it could demonstrate organizational and communication skills. These are especially relevant for roles in event planning but also for roles that require project management skills.

Organizing events can provide you with several applicable skills:

  • Organizational skills: Planning an event requires coordinating many moving parts and demonstrating strong organizational and planning abilities.
  • Communication: Events involve coordinating with stakeholders, showcasing your strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Project management: Managing an event from start to finish is a form of project management emphasizes your ability to oversee a project and ensure its successful completion.

Events are a great example of a project that shows you can transform an idea into something tangible.

6. Language clubs or cultural organizations

Whether it’s for your career or a personal interest that you want to highlight, involvement in language clubs or cultural organizations can demonstrate:

  • Appreciation for diversity: Participation in these groups signifies your interest and respect for different cultures and perspectives, a highly valued attribute in today’s globalized workplace.
  • Communication skills: By interacting with people from different backgrounds, you enhance your ability to communicate effectively with diverse individuals.
  • Language proficiency: If the club or organization is focused on a particular language, it can demonstrate your proficiency or fluency in that language, which is an in-demand skill in many multinational companies.

So many positions would benefit from a bilingual or multilingual worker. If you’ve participated in language clubs and you’re missing concrete professional experience, you should consider adding this extracurricular.

7. Certification courses or workshops

Earning additional certificates or attending relevant workshops is a strong way to show you’re proactive about learning and staying up-to-date in your industry.

Completing additional certifications or attending industry-related workshops demonstrates:

  • Proactive learning: Certificates and workshops show you’re committed to continuous learning and keeping your skills current in a fast-paced industry.
  • Industry knowledge: It can also highlight your deep understanding of specific aspects of your industry.
  • Initiative: It’s a clear sign that you take the initiative to go beyond what’s required and continually advance your professional development.

Managers like “go-getters,” and nothing says that you get after it, like taking the time to push your industry knowledge deeper.

8. Public speaking or debate clubs

If you’re part of a debate team or Toastmasters, it displays your communication and critical thinking skills. These skills can be particularly relevant for sales, law, or any role requiring presentations or negotiations.

Participation in public speaking or debate clubs highlights:

  • Communication skills: This kind of involvement proves your ability to articulate your thoughts and engage effectively with diverse audiences.
  • Persuasion skills: Debating equips you with the ability to persuade others effectively, a key skill for roles in sales, marketing, and law.
  • Critical thinking: Structuring arguments and rebuttals in debates also demonstrates your critical thinking and analytical abilities.

Public speaking is a rare skill and one that many hiring managers would find appealing.

9. Mentorship programs

Mentoring programs, especially those related to your professional field, can demonstrate a host of valuable and transferable skills:

  • Leadership: Mentoring involves guiding and influencing others, which shows your ability to lead and inspire.
  • Expertise: If you’re mentoring in your field of study or work, it reinforces your proficiency and knowledge in that area.
  • Patience and persistence: These are often necessary when helping mentees learn and grow, demonstrating your resilience and patience.

These skills are highly applicable across many industries and job roles, making mentoring a strong extracurricular activity to feature on your resume.

How to list extracurricular activities on a resume (no job experience)

The trick to including extracurricular activities on your resume when you have no job experience is less about what you include and more about how you present them.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting it right.

Step 1: Identify the right activities for your resume

Choose activities that demonstrate the skills relevant to the job you’re applying for.

  • Did your role as the captain of a sports team showcase your leadership skills?
  • Did organizing a charity event exhibit your project management abilities?
  • Did volunteering at the local radio station teach you about teamwork and collaboration?

Think about the key skills needed for the prospective role, and match them with the activities that best demonstrate them.

Again, for this, there’s no better solution than Teal’s Keyword Checker:

Teal's AI Resume Builder Matching Mode feature.

Even if you don’t have much work experience, you can still give yourself an advantage by using the right verbiage and keywords to express your extracurriculars.

But rather than guess what these skills are and how you should convey them, Teal pulls out all that information for you. Then, you can use that information to build a resume that lands your next interview much faster.

Check it out by getting started with Teal’s AI Resume Builder today.

Step 2: Create an “Extracurricular Activities” section

Once you’ve identified the activities, create a separate section on your resume, typically near the end.

Important note: Again, only add this section if you don’t have any professional experience relative to the job description or if your extracurricular activities are so well aligned with the role that it makes sense to do so.

Step 3: Format and describe each activity

List each activity in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent.

For each activity, provide a brief description highlighting your role, achievements, and the skills you used or developed. Remember, your description should be concise and compelling, aiming to make potential employers excited to learn more about you.

Final thoughts

Extracurricular activities on your resume are not just ‘nice-to-haves.’ They’re valuable elements that provide a more well-rounded picture of who you are, showcasing the diverse skills and experiences that make you a compelling candidate.

But remember, it’s all about choosing the right activities and presenting them in a way that aligns with your career aspirations and the job you’re eyeing.

And, of course, Teal’s AI Resume Builder is here to guide you every step, ensuring your resume and you stand out from the crowd.

Jumpstart your resume with Teal’s AI Resume Builder today and showcase your extracurricular activities like a pro.

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