How to Make Your Extracurricular Activities Look Good on a Resume

In a screeshot from The Office, Dwight uses white-out to alter his business cards.

You don’t have to be president of student government or graduate summa cum laude to build a stellar resume. With some reflection and wordsmithing, even the most basic extracurriculars can showcase your unique set of skills for prospective employers.

What skills should you prioritize? The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed employers hiring new grads and breaks down the top 10:

  1. Leadership
  2. Ability to work in a team
  3. Written communication skills
  4. Problem-solving skills
  5. Verbal communication skills
  6. Strong work ethic
  7. Initiative
  8. Analytical/quantitative skills
  9. Flexibility/adaptability
  10. Technical skills

With these skills in mind, check out these smarter ways to write about college activities you probably didn’t think belonged on your resume in the first place.

1. Fraternity or sorority

Certain, ahem, social activities may have been your crowning achievements during your time in a frat or sorority, but chances are you picked up some marketable skills as well. Even if you never served as treasurer or head of a planning committee, your organization undoubtedly did good work that you were part of and can highlight.

Fraternities and sororities are the largest network of volunteers in the U.S. and donate more than 10 million hours of volunteer time a year. Be sure to mention the charities your group supports (for example, Alpha Omicron Pi, the largest sorority in the U.S., supports arthritis research) and be prepared to talk about parties, parades or fundraisers you were involved with that supported this cause.

Skills to highlight: Leadership, ability to work in a team, strong work ethic, initiative

2. Seemingly irrelevant job

Delivering pizzas or slinging coffee has a place on your resume. Keeping a job during college is hard work, and you were gaining real-world experience in the working world, even if it wasn’t in your future field.

Skills to highlight: Strong work ethic, ability to work in a team, problem-solving skills, initiative, and flexibility/adaptability. (There may be others, depending on your job. Get creative!)

3. Casual sports

If you played on the school team, you’re obviously going to include that on your resume. But intramural leagues, and even regular pick-up games, can be worth mentioning, too. Focus on the organizational and leadership skills it took to schedule and keep the games going.

Skills to highlight: Leadership, ability to work in a team (duh), verbal communication skills, initiative, flexibility/adaptability

4. Work/study or campus job

Plenty of hiring managers can relate to the hustle it takes to get good grades, earn a little spending money and keep your student debt in check. Just like with any other job, a work/study or campus job shows that initiative, plus it demonstrates a good relationship with your alma mater.

Skills to highlight: Leadership, ability to work in a team, strong work ethic, initiative, flexibility/adaptability (again, others skills depend on your gig)

5. Epic school projects

As a general rule, employers want to see work experience and internships on your resume, but some school assignments are significant enough to be worth mentioning. Senior projects and anything requiring a lot of collaboration may deserve a spot.

Skills to highlight: Leadership, ability to work in a team, written communication skills, verbal communication skills, strong work ethic, initiative

We’ve got plenty more resume advice. You can also check out our resume template optimized for landing a job in the business world.