How To Highlight Extracurricular Activities in a CV

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 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.

Extracurricular activities are activities you do outside of class that can help you develop valuable qualities and skills. They can make you a well-rounded professional who has a lot of experience to share with colleagues and friends. Highlighting extracurricular activities in a CV can increase your chances of getting hired for a job after university. In this article, we discuss what extracurricular activities are, learn how and when you should include them on your CV and explore some of the best extracurricular activities to add to your CV.

What are extracurricular activities?

Extracurricular activities are any structured, ongoing activity you took part in while in school, but not as an academic requirement. They're usually affiliated with or run by the school or college you attended. They can provide you with valuable extracurricular skills that can benefit you personally and professionally. Some examples of extracurricular activities you can highlight on your CV include volunteer work and involvement in clubs and organisations.

Related: 10 Best Skills to Include on a CV

When should you list extracurricular activities on a CV?

Highlighting extracurricular activities on your CV can help you present yourself as a competent and well-rounded individual. There are many different situations where it can be beneficial for you to include extracurricular activities, such as:

  • To demonstrate your leadership skills: Leadership is a versatile and in-demand skill. Recruiters value job candidates that demonstrate experience leading extracurricular activities as it's usually a transferrable skill for the workplace.

  • When you need to show your technical skills: If you're pursuing a career in computer programming, for example, you might join a software development club while studying at a university. Highlighting this on your CV can be beneficial, as it shows hiring managers you're investing in your technical skills outside of work, too.

  • If you have little to no experience: If you have little professional experience, listing extracurricular activities can help you add more information to your CV. You can use bullet-point lists to describe the specific skills you learned from participating in each activity.

Related: 10 Leadership Skills To Highlight In Your Resume

What are some good extracurricular activities?

There are a variety of extracurricular activities you can join while attending school. Here are some of the most common:

Student leadership

One of the most beneficial student organisations you can take part in while you're in school is the student body government association. Students who take on these leadership roles are usually capable and reliable. They're typically voted for by their fellow students and are proficient communicators. Student leaders usually act as liaisons between the faculty and the students, making several decisions that can affect their entire class. Highlighting your involvement in a student government association on your CV can show prospective employers that you're interested in taking on leadership positions and that you can handle responsibility independently.

Sports

Joining a sports team in your school can be an enriching and rewarding experience. Taking part in sports can teach you the importance of leadership, teamwork and working hard to attain your goals. Also, it can provide you with the opportunity to compete, travel and meet new people. If you include sports on your CV, list transferrable skills you can apply to the workplace, such as communication, collaboration and perseverance.

Arts

Creative extracurricular activities include joining a music group, film club, art organisations or a theatre group. Taking part in these activities can demonstrate your creativity, dedication and good critical thinking skills. Most artistic organisations also require you to participate in professional showcases, public performances and rehearsals. Highlighting creative clubs on your CV can show your dedication to enhancing your skills.

Volunteering

Many colleges and universities provide regular opportunities that allow you to help your community. These activities may include mentoring students in primary schools, participating in environmental conservation programmes and serving food at homeless shelters. Highlighting your volunteer work on your CV can show your commitment to giving back to the community and your dedication to helping people in need.

Studying abroad

Many schools provide opportunities for you to study abroad. These programmes usually last for several weeks or months. Studying overseas can give you the opportunity to experience other cultures and to expand your knowledge or understanding of the world. Studying in another country helps you gain a greater awareness of the significance of cultural cooperation and communication. If you studied in another country, highlighting it on your CV can help you attract potential employers.

Professional societies

Professional organisations exist for fields of study like computer science, engineering, mathematics and English. Taking part in one of these organisations can show your passion for your chosen field and your level of professional competency. For example, if you're interested in becoming a programmer, joining a professional society centred on computer science shows your prospective employer that you're genuinely interested in what the job entails.

Mentoring or tutoring

Some universities offer programmes that allow you to mentor or tutor your classmates or younger students. They usually offer these opportunities to students who excel in a certain subject or class. Mentoring or tutoring others can help you deepen your knowledge of the course material. It also helps you make a lasting impact on a student's life. Highlighting your tutoring experience on your CV can show hiring managers your intelligence, dedication to excellence and communication skills.

How to describe extracurricular activities in a CV

Review these steps to learn how to describe your extracurricular activities in a CV:

1. Choose relevant extracurricular activities

When choosing extracurricular activities to include in your CV, focus on the quality of experience over the quantity. You can do this by mentioning organisations or clubs that you actively engage in and those that helped you develop valuable, transferable skills. It's better to focus on one activity that you contributed significantly to, rather than including multiple irrelevant activities. This way, you can keep recruiters interested in your job application.

2. Provide details

Be specific about your interests. For instance, instead of just listing travelling as an interest, you can mention that you have a passion for cultural exchange and that you've travelled to seven different countries.This can capture the employer's interest and likely start a conversation.

Related: How to Write Work Experience on a CV (With Examples)

3. Assess how your participation makes you an ideal candidate

Before you add any extracurricular activities to your CV, take some time to evaluate how these experiences improved your employability. Here are some examples of common skills that you can develop from participating in extracurricular activities:

  • Technical expertise: Extracurricular activities can help you develop the technical skills necessary for your field or industry.

  • Initiative: Devoting your time to improving yourself or helping your community can show hiring managers your thoughtful and ambitious character.

  • Dedication and work ethic: Most extracurricular activities involve commitment and consistent work, which can demonstrate that you can bring dedication and focus to your role.

  • Communication and collaboration: Working with others on a team or project requires soft skills that are valuable in almost any profession.

  • Organisation: To manage your extracurricular activities and studies, you need to employ a good amount of organisational skills. In addition, these experiences expose you to situations where you need to manage events, people and information, further developing this skill.

Related: Selecting the Right CV Skills in 5 Simple Steps

4. Organise your extracurricular activities intentionally

The amount of space that you devote to extracurricular activities depends on the amount of experience you have in other areas. For instance, if you've taken part in several internships, then you can focus on those opportunities and only include some of your more notable activities.

However, if you don't have an internship or work experience, you can detail how your extracurricular activities prepared you for the job you're applying for. In this situation, it's important to treat them like work experiences by including a list of bullet points that describe the skills you developed, as well as your achievements.

5. Format your extracurricular activities in relevant sections

Create a CV that looks organised, professional and clean. Here are some guidelines to help you decide on a relevant CV section for your extracurricular activities:

  • Education section: If you participated in extracurricular activities that relate to your degree, consider adding them to the education section on your CV.

  • Achievement section: Consider emphasising your extracurricular activities if it involved a specific accomplishment or award.

  • Work experience section: If one of your extracurricular activities relates to the job you're applying for, consider using it as an example of your work experience. For example, volunteering can serve as work experience for a prospective social worker.

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