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How Can Extracurricular Activities Help You Find a Job?

How Can Extracurricular Activities Help You Find a Job?

With societies, sports groups and volunteering opportunities available to students, there are plenty of ways to get involved with extracurricular activities at university.

 In addition to meeting people, learning new skills and having fun, extracurricular activities can be a great way to help your CV stand out to employers and will give you something to talk about in job interviews.

A 2018 study of 21 million job adverts in the UK found that soft skills and non-academic achievements are central to getting through the first stage of the recruitment process.

The general manager of CoursesOnline, Sarah-Jane McQueen, gave us her professional insight on how employers really view extracurricular activities and how students can use their extracurricular activities to stand out to employers. 

McQueen said: “Employers will be looking for candidates who can demonstrate a blend of activities and experiences.” 

She emphasized the importance of including extracurricular activities on your CV, particularly when they’re relevant to the role.

These activities should be matched, where possible, to elements of the job description “to highlight how you can translate these skills to a workplace setting,” McQueen explained. 

She said: “Both extracurricular activities and work experience have their place in developing your skill set and having practical examples to call upon during the recruitment and interview process is highly valuable.”

Why do employers care about extracurricular activities?

Why do employers care about extracurricular activities?

When hiring students and graduates, employers look for a well-rounded individual with the right mix of skills for the role, explained McQueen.

Being involved a range of extracurricular activities shows employers you “have the initiative to seek out a variety of life-enriching experiences,” she said.

Show your personality

McQueen said that while academic grades are important, your personality is also a contributing factor to securing a job. 

Extracurricular activities are a great way to show who you are and what you’re interested in, as well as differentiating yourself from other applicants. 

McQueen said: “Certain skills and ways of operating can be learned but various traits can only be forged through life experiences, so don’t be afraid of fully embracing who you are. 

“Remember, employers want to hire real people, not interchangeable drones.”

Learn transferrable skills

Through participating in extracurricular activities, students will develop soft skills which are highly valued by employers.

These skills may include – but aren’t limited to – teamwork, problem-solving, accountability, decisiveness and interpersonal skills, said McQueen.

For example, volunteering with a charity shows employers that an applicant is willing to work hard for a good cause and is likely to be compassionate to the feelings of others: a trait which is “crucial in any work setting,” explained McQueen.

What types of extracurricular activities should you do at university?

What types of extracurricular activities should you do at university?

When applying for jobs, it’s important to mention any activity “which has helped you grow personally or professionally,” said McQueen.

She added that although it’s sometimes easy to think that some extracurricular activities hold more value than others, this isn’t necessarily true.

For example, being a member of a sports team might seem to you like just a bit of fun, but it also proves to employers that you can work well as part of a team and that you strive to improve yourself each week, explained McQueen.

She said: “It also comes with numerous opportunities for you to display why you’re suitable for a particular role.”

In a similar way, playing an instrument or getting involved with a theatre society shows you’re actively looking to improve yourself, said McQueen.

She said: “If you perform publicly or to an online audience then that shows someone who isn’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone to publicly embrace a challenge.

“Even supporting a production from behind the scenes and working on set can develop project management and communication skills.”

Volunteering is another way to set yourself apart from other applicants. McQueen explained that volunteering can help students develop a range of soft skills such as “developing emotional intelligence or unlocking sales abilities through fundraising.” 

How should students and graduates talk about their interests in a job interview? 

 How should students and graduates talk about their interests in a job interview?

In an interview, emphasize the skills you’ve learnt in these activities, advised McQueen, and make sure this differs from the information you’ve written on your CV. 

She said: “Be sure to use real-life examples of when you used each skill and where possible, link the skills back to how they would be beneficial in the role you are applying for. 

“This is your chance to let your personality shine through so that the organization you want to join knows that you are a good fit for their culture as well as being capable enough to handle the day-to-day tasks.”

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Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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