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How to Make Your Extracurriculars Sound Best on Your Resume

Posted Nov 21 2013 - 12:00am
Tagged With: extracurriculars, resume

resume desk work

Collegiettes often spend endless amounts of time working on extracurriculars. Maybe you’re sleeping in the newspaper office or spending your entire weekend drafting student government legislation. Maybe you’re planning in-depth events for your sorority or forgoing sleep to plan a fundraiser for a club.

Whatever the case, you pour serious time into your out-of-class activities, and that should come across on your resume. The problem is, as collegiettes we often miss this point when describing our activities outside the classroom. We gloss over the information employers really want and fail to communicate how professional our experience really is.

Don’t stress, though! HC is here. We spoke with Angel Wood, a career development counselor at Appalachian State University, and brought in real resumes from collegiettes to see how they could be improved. Here are her tips on how to genuinely reflect the time and effort you put in outside of class.

Problem #1 - You assume people know what you do

Many girls’ resumes have one essential problem: they’re entirely too vague. Often, being concise is a concern, but one or two lines of information is not enough. “Don’t assume people know how you work,” Wood says. Employers don’t know what the deputy executive treasurer does, so make sure you’re giving a description of your position and duties. Try to pull out your accomplishments as well. Did you have 10 articles on the front page of your campus magazine? Include that. Did you bring the business club to a first-place win in a national competition for the first time! Always pull out numbers—tell employers if you increased your club’s web traffic by 50 percent or raised $1,000 for a local nonprofit. And remember to discuss your progression. If you started out as treasurer and eventually became president, make sure that’s reflected on your resume.

The resume:
Member, Alpha Phi Sorority
“I serve as the Panhellenic Delegate on the Executive Council of my sorority.”

The problem:
What does a Panhellenic Delegate do? People outside the Greek system—even people outside your specific organization—likely have no idea.

The fix:
Panhellenic Delegate, Alpha Phi Sorority

  • Serve as ambassador between sorority’s executive council and university’s full Panhellenic council
  • Present philanthropy events to Panhellenic council to solicit support
  • Built partnership with four other organizations for philanthropy event which raised $1,500

selling yourself getting a job money

Problem #2 - You forget to sell yourself

The entire point of a resume is to sell yourself, so what skills are you selling? Think about your assets and the assets employers are looking for. Think about the communication skills you gained. Did you manage anyone? Did you work with diverse groups of people? Include that experience. “I think people, if they’re an officer in a club or organization, often forget about the supervision piece and the training piece. Those are big ones and people downplay them,” Wood says. In addition to leadership, think about writing and marketing skills. Did you do informal PR for your organization: posters mocked up in InDesign, announcements made in your classes, newsletters? All of that is valuable experience. Think about your event-planning experience and what went into it. Did you plan a sorority social or an alumni event? What experience did you gain? And make sure you include any phone or networking skills as well. If you’ve worked with donors, alumni or university leadership, that’s taught you to maintain professionalism and interact with people who are in a different place in their life than you and employers want to know.

The resume:
Member, Campus Christian Fellowship

  • Worked on fundraising team for organization
  • Attended twice-weekly meetings

The problem:
The resume above offers no marketable skills to employers. They have no idea what you did on the fundraising team, and probably don’t care much about the twice-weekly meetings you attended.

The fix:
Fundraiser, Campus Christian Fellowship

  • Solicited local businesses for donations
  • Designed promotional materials using Adobe Illustrator and InDesign
  • Wrote press releases which were picked up for publication in four local media outlets
  • Helped plan auction which raised $2,000 for organization

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