Extracurricular Activities: How They Can Help Get You Hired

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn what extracurricular activities are, how they benefit you, and why they belong on your resume, and explore 13 examples that may appeal to employers.

[Featured image] Woman sitting at a café searching for extracurricular activities on her laptop.

In a competitive job market, it's important to stand out from other job candidates, and extracurricular activities can help. Adding these activities to your resume might convince an employer that you have the character traits and special skills they are looking for.

In this guide, you'll learn what extracurricular activities are, why they're beneficial, and why they belong on your resume. Then, you'll find 13 examples of extracurricular activities that can help make your resume stronger.

What are extracurricular activities?

When you participate in an activity that isn't required for school or a job, it is considered as “extracurricular.” You can choose an extracurricular activity simply because you enjoy doing it or because it helps you meet a certain goal. Examples of extracurricular activities can include membership in clubs, outdoor recreation, sports, volunteering, or other creative pursuits like dancing, baking, or gardening.

What are some benefits of extracurricular activities?

Extracurricular activities can help grow your skill set. Types of skills you can develop through participation include communication, leadership, organization, teamwork, and technical prowess. These skills transfer well to success at a job and in a career. Extracurricular activities can also help build character and instill important values like:

  • Compassion

  • Consideration

  • Loyalty

  • Independence

  • Responsibility

  • Self-confidence

  • Work ethic

Why extracurricular activities belong on a resume

Adding extracurriculars to a resume can help show an employer that you are skilled and well-rounded. By highlighting skills and character traits you've picked up that might transfer to a job, extracurriculars can also make up for a lack of work experience.

13 types of extracurricular activities to put on your resume

1. Academic clubs

Membership in an academic club in high school or college can help you learn how to be a better team member and improve your communication skills, which look great on a resume. On a personal level, academic clubs can help you meet new people and have more fun. Examples of academic clubs you can join include the astronomy club, debate club, National Honor Society, robotics club, and the school newspaper.

2. Arts

Outside activities involving fine arts, dramatic arts, or music can boost your creative abilities and might help you land certain jobs. Arts extracurriculars are especially helpful if you're applying for a creative position like art director, chef, graphic artist, or photographer. Types of creative pursuits you can explore include dance, drawing, painting, sculpture, community theater, or playing in a local band.

3. Community volunteering

Volunteering in your community can help instill a sense of compassion, empathy, sacrifice, and a willingness to help others. Here are some examples of ways you can volunteer:

  • Working in food banks, homeless shelters, or community gardens

  • Participating in neighborhood cleanups

  • Volunteering for fundraisers like fun runs or auctions

  • Coaching a youth sports team

4. Design

Whether you enjoy designing logos, decorating living spaces, or creating outdoor gardens, a design-inspired hobby can offer an array of benefits for you and a potential employer. You could learn design-related principles like balance, contrast, movement, and proportion or become more skilled at problem-solving. Additionally, you could learn to use design-related software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Live Home 3D Pro, or Realtime Landscaping Plus that can help you thrive in a creative career.

5. Foreign language learning

Learning another language indicates open-mindedness and enthusiasm to learn about other cultures. It also shows an employer that you’re adept at processing and retaining information. Becoming fluent in a foreign language can help grow your career in a company with global markets. 

6. Political action

If you've been involved in political action, consider listing it on your resume. However, make sure to emphasize the skills you've picked up along the way rather than commenting on your political affiliation. Types of skills you might mention include communication, fundraising, staff management, budgeting, and organization.

7. Professional associations

Membership in a professional association shows a prospective employer that you're interested in growing professionally. Many of these associations offer mentorship programs, continuing education, access to educational resources, and networking opportunities.

8. Public speaking

Listing a membership or participation in a public speaking club or course on your resume signals that you've worked on your communication skills. In addition to enhancing verbal and nonverbal communication, practice in public speaking helps build confidence, boost your powers of persuasion, and develop critical thinking.   

9. Social activism

Participation in social activism shows an employer that you care about what is happening in your community and the world. It also highlights your willingness to stand up for your beliefs and defend your rights and the rights of others.

10. Sports

Playing a sport can highlight various attributes on a resume. For instance, participating in a team sport like volleyball or hockey can help you develop your sense of collaboration and teamwork. Participation in an individual sport like martial arts, skiing, or tennis can help build motivation, goal-setting skills, and mental fortitude. Individual and team sports also help foster a competitive spirit, dedication, and drive—qualities that many employers look for in a new recruit.

11. Student government

Involvement in student government in high school or college can indicate several key strengths. These might include leadership, communication skills, organization, and decision-making. These skills can help you in the workplace when you need to work with other staff members, stay on task, make decisions, or manage people or projects.

12. Travel

If you plan to include travel on your resume, consider what type of travel might interest an employer. For instance, spring break trips with friends or family camping trips might not add to your employability. But, travel that relates to the job or promotes personal growth can make a good addition to a resume. Examples of travel scenarios that might pique an employer's interest include:

  • International trips that introduced you to different cultures or helped you improve your foreign language skills

  • Travel that included volunteer work

  • Any travel that inspired you to write about or film your experience

  • Trips that demanded strict planning and budgeting

  • A particularly challenging trip that enhanced your sense of humor and highlighted your ability to adapt

  • Any situation where you've worked or studied abroad

13. Writing

Writing as an extracurricular activity might indicate that you have a creative spark, and can boost your skills for self-expression. Writing can also help you think more constructively, and improves emotional health, which can benefit you in any job position.

Next steps

Looking for extracurricular activities to add to your resume? Consider taking a course on a topic you're interested in on Coursera.

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