Getting a job isn’t like getting into college — Hiring managers generally don’t care about your extracurricular activities. So why even bother including them on your resume?
Extracurricular activities can be a good way of showcasing your abilities when you don’t have a lot of work experience — in particular, if you’re still a student or have only just graduated. In that case, recruiters can look to your extracurriculars for evidence of transferable skills like leadership, teamwork, communication, and work ethic. This doesn’t mean that extracurricular activities are a substitute for relevant experience, but they’re a great place to start.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to determine if extracurricular activities are a good addition to your resume, which ones to include to show competitive transferable skills, and how to tailor your extracurricular activities to your particular industry and career level.
Should you put extracurricular activities on your resume?
Before we delve into how to showcase extracurricular activities, let’s decide if they’re the right fit for your resume.You should list extracurricular activities on your resume if:
- You’re a current student or recent graduate seeking an entry-level position.
- You don’t have a lot of paid work experience.
- It was through a prestigious or recognizable organization, like a law review or official charity.
- They demonstrate relevant transferable skills or noteworthy accomplishments that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
You should not list extracurricular activities on your resume if:
- You have enough paid work experience to showcase the same skills.
- The activity is more than 5+ years old.
- You’re applying for a senior position (with exceptions).
- It was a one-time activity rather than a regular, ongoing thing.
You can consider listing extracurricular activities on your resume if:
- You’re changing careers and want to include skills that are relevant to your new field.
- Your extracurricular activities are highly relevant or especially noteworthy.
- Your extracurricular activity includes a board membership or a similar position of leadership.
In these cases, you should still prioritize relevant paid work experience but can include extracurricular activities if there’s space on your resume. If you’re not sure if extracurricular activities are helping or harming your resume, upload it for free to Score My Resume, an online resume checker that will provide instant and detailed feedback on how to improve your resume.
How to list extracurricular activities on your resume
There are three ways to best showcase extracurricular activities on your resume: In a separate ‘Activities’ section, in your ‘Education’ section, and in an ‘Additional’ section at the end of your resume.
Generally, in any of these sections, you should list your activities in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. However, if older activities are more relevant to the job you're applying for, it's ok to list them first. For instance, a leadership role you had in college might be more relevant to a managerial position than more recent but less relevant activities.
In an activities section
If you were heavily involved in extracurricular activities and want to showcase that, it’s okay to have a whole section of your resume dedicated to it. Title it ‘Activities’ and include the name of the organization, the dates you were involved, your role or title, and 1-2 of your most relevant accomplishments. When deciding what to put under ‘Activities’ on your resume, consider activities that showcase your skills, interests, and professional experise.
In your education section
If your extracurricular activities were school clubs, they can go in the education section of your resume. For current students, your education section might be the most detailed section of your resume and can go at the top. You can also include other information like your major and relevant minor(s), awards, relevant coursework, study abroad, and GPA.
If you’re a mid-level hire who graduated less than 10 years ago, you can still include extracurricular activities on your resume if they’re relevant and particularly noteworthy. In that case, you should keep it brief by listing extracurriculars on a single line in a short education section at the end of your resume, as shown in the example below.
If you don’t have a lot of work experience, you should aim to show transferable and soft skills that hiring managers and recruiters look for in your extracurricular activities. To find out if your bullet points are strong enough and have no mistakes, upload your resume to the tool below — it'll perform a quick scan and let you know if your extracurricular experiences can be improved.
In a volunteering section
If your extracurricular activities doubled as volunteer work, you can create a separate ‘Volunteering’ section on your resume. List each project or activity separately, including the dates you worked on it, and include 1-2 bullet points outlining your main accomplishments.For example:
In an additional section
If you want to include extracurricular activities on your resume without taking up a lot of space, consider including them in an additional section at the end of your resume. Include a subheading like ‘Activities’ and keep it to a single line, as shown in this resume example:
Optional resume section titles for extracurricular activities
Using appropriate section titles helps improve the readability of your resume and makes it easier for a recruiter to pick out the most useful information. Here are some additional resume section titles you can use when listing extracurricular activities:
- Extracurricular: Use this title if you have a broad range of activities outside of your academic or professional work that are relevant to your application.
- Activities: Use this title if your extracurriculars demonstrate a wide range of skills, including clubs, sports, or other group activities.
- Leadership: Choose this title when you want to emphasize leadership roles, such as president of a club or captain of a sports team. This is particularly effective if you’re applying for roles where leadership is a priority.
- Other: This title can be used to gather various parts of your resume that don’t fit into standard categories, such as extracurriculars, certificates, affiliations, etc.
Sample resume showing extracurricular experience
Here’s a good example of a resume for a student or recent graduate that showcases extracurricular activities, providing you with activities examples that easily fit into a high-performing resume:
How to highlight transferable skills through extracurricular activities
When considering what extracurricular activities to include on your resume, focus on those that demonstrate transferable skills, leadership, teamwork, or community involvement. Good activities to put on a resume can range from sports teams and clubs to volunteer work and personal projects.
Identify key transferable skills
Extracurricular activities are a great way to showcase both hard and soft skills in a professional setting. Consider the activity you took part in and identify if you can showcase any of the soft skills listed below:
- Leadership: Showcasing roles where you led a team or project.
- Teamwork: Demonstrating collaboration and collective problem-solving.
- Digital literacy: Showcasing your competence with digital tools and technology.
- Communication: Highlighting roles that required effective verbal or written communication.
- Organization: Managing events or projects efficiently.
- Problem-solving: Demonstrating your ability to identify challenges and come up with productive solutions.
- Innovation: Showing your ability to think outside the box.
- Time management: Highlighting your ability to juggle multiple responsibilities.
- Adaptability: Showing your ability to thrive in changing environments and adjust to new challenges.
- Conflict resolution: Demonstrating your skill in resolving disagreements and conflicts.
- Project management: Showcasing your ability to plan, execute, and oversee projects from start to finish.
- Analytical thinking: Showing your ability to analyze information, identify trends, and make informed decisions.
If you want to find relevant skills for the job you’re applying for, use our hard skills and keywords tool below to search for the job, and it’ll give you a list of skills relevant to the position.
Quantify your achievements
Once you have chosen an activity that showcases your desired skill, quantify your achievements with numbers and metrics. This gives a recruiter tangible proof of your skills while also explaining why your experience is relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you were involved in fundraising, specify the amount raised, or if you led a team, specify the size of the team.
Organized a charity event that raised $5,000 for environmental conservation.
Led a 15-member team to organize a college debate, attracting over 300 participants.
Use action verbs to create power phrases
Start your resume bullet points with a strong action verb, followed by a quantified metric, and end each phrase showing the positive result of your work. This formula creates eye-catching power phrases that succinctly demonstrate your skills.
Coordinated a team of 10 volunteers, leading to a 20% increase in fundraiser efficiency.
Designed and implemented a new marketing strategy for a college event, resulting in a 30% higher attendance than in previous years.
Tailor your examples to the job description
To make your extracurricular activities relevant to each application, tailor the examples you use to align with the job description. Identify key skills or responsibilities mentioned in the job description and choose extracurricular examples that best demonstrate these skills or qualities.
For instance, if the job requires strong leadership skills, highlight a time you led a team or project in your extracurricular activities.
Led a team of 20 volunteers in organizing the annual campus charity event, raising over $10,000.
Organized and directed a student-run theater production, coordinating a cast and crew of 30 people.
Align your examples with employer cultural and ethical values
When selecting which extracurriculars to highlight on your resume, consider the cultural and ethical values of the organizations you're applying to. Research each company’s history and their involvement in community and global initiatives. This will help you choose activities that resonate with their company structure and values as a whole.
For example, if a company prioritizes sustainability, describe your involvement in environmental clubs or eco-friendly initiatives. If a company values innovation and creativity, highlight your participation in tech projects or creative competitions.
What extracurricular activities to include on your resume based on your experience level
Not sure if your extracurricular activities belong on your resume? Here are some extracurricular activities that add value to your resume at every experience level.
Current students and recent graduates
For high school students and recent graduates, extracurricular activities are a major asset. On a high school activities resume, include sports, leadership roles, and any volunteer activities you’ve been involved in, such as:
- Foreign language activities — particularly study abroad
- Sports teams
- Performing arts
- Student government
- Official clubs
Determining where to put clubs on a resume depends on how relevant they are to the job you’re applying for. If they are highly relevant, they can be included in the main 'Experience' section. Otherwise, they can be listed under an 'Activities' or 'Extracurricular' section.
For mid-career professionals, extracurricular activities should demonstrate continued personal growth. Include activities that highlight your leadership skills, industry involvement, or community engagement, such as:
- Volunteer work
- Business venture and other projects — if these are significant enough, you might even want to consider including them in your regular work experience section.
For senior-level professionals, the focus should be on activities that showcase strategic leadership and industry influence. Highlight roles that reflect your expertise and contributions at a higher level, including:
- Board memberships
- Speaking engagements
- Business ventures
- High level of leadership
Tailoring extracurricular activities to your particular industry
Tailoring your extracurricular activities to the specific industry you're applying to is an important part of ensuring your resume stays relevant and impactful for each application. Below are examples of extracurricular activities that align well with different industry sectors:
Technology and IT:
- Coding clubs that demonstrate technical skills and proficiency with specific tools.
- Tech-focused volunteer work that showcases skills such as AI, machine learning, and web development.
- Personal tech projects, such as creating your own apps, websites, or software projects.
Led a team in a university hackathon, developing a mobile app that won second place for innovative use of AI in healthcare.
Finance and business:
- Leadership roles in investment clubs or business associations.
- Organizing fundraising events or managing budgets for student organizations.
As President of the campus Investment Club, grew membership by 40% and consistently outperformed market benchmarks in mock portfolios.
Education and academia:
- Tutoring or mentoring roles, showcasing teaching and coaching abilities.
- Involvement in educational clubs or academic competitions.
Tutored 30+ high school students in math and science, achieving an average student improvement rate of 25% in test scores.
Creative arts and design:
- Participation in arts clubs, creative writing courses, or performing arts groups.
- Contributions to campus publications, blogs, or design contests.
- Personal creative projects, such as films, photography, portfolio design, and art exhibitions.
Organized a campus art exhibit featuring 30+ student works, attracting over 300 attendees and promoting local artists.
Marketing and communications:
- Leading or participating in marketing or advertising clubs.
- Managing social media or publicity for student organizations or events.
Directed social media campaigns for the Campus Music Festival, increasing online engagement by 50% over previous years.
- Involvement in mock trial competitions or law student associations.
- Volunteering for legal aid societies or related community service.
Active member of the University Mock Trial team, reaching national finals and winning first place in our category.
Hospitality and tourism:
- Leadership roles in event planning or hospitality-related student organizations.
- Volunteering at local tourism events or cultural festivals.
Coordinated a local food festival, managing over 20 vendors and logistics, drawing an attendance of 5,000+ people.
Using extracurricular activities to help a career change
Extracurricular activities can be especially helpful when changing careers. When you’re moving to a new industry or field, your direct work experience may not align perfectly with your new career path. This is where extracurricular activities come into play, helping bridge the gap in your professional experience by showcasing relevant skills and interests in your new field.
- Focus on activities that demonstrate relevant skills to your new field. For example, leadership roles in community organizations can translate well into managerial positions in various sectors.
- If you're moving into a field that requires new technical skills, extracurricular activities like attending workshops, online courses, or certifications can demonstrate your commitment to learning and adapting.
- Demonstrate commitment to your new sector by showing involvement in industry-related groups. For example, someone transitioning to a career in environmental science might highlight their active role in conservation projects or environmental clubs.