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Why Extracurricular Activities are Important to Your Employability (And How to Show it Off to Employers)

Woman dancing in a circle on a stage against the setting sun.

Today’s employers are looking at more than just your degree. They are looking for how well rounded you are and they have identified that a lot of the skills you gain from university aren’t necessarily from the academics – they’re from extracurricular activities. Many students have these skills, and every student has the potential to develop them if they don’t. The problem is that most job seekers fail to properly identify them, or cannot articulate them, at key times such as on a CV or in an interview.

So what do we mean by ‘extracurricular activities’?

These are activities that are outside of your general studies - typically something that you are passionate about. And no, we don’t mean just evenings at the union bar. We’re talking about events and activities where you gain, use and develop skills that make you a perfect fit in the work place. There is a wide range of extracurricular activities you can take part in at university – here’s a few of the most popular we recognize at FDM:

  • Societies
  • Sports
  • Mentoring Schemes
  • Fund Raising
  • Enterprise
  • Leadership Awards
  • Committee Positions
  • Representation
  • Volunteering
  • Exhibitions
  • Buddy Schemes
  • Community Projects
  • Student Ambassadors
  • Show/Performances

Involvement in each of these activities will help you develop the soft skills which are crucial to succeeding in the business world – beyond book knowledge. These are the skills that employers are looking for you to bring into the workplace.

Take for example the roles and skills that you can gain from being on a society committee. If you were to hold a Treasurer position, it would show that you are a logical thinker and have an acute attention to detail. If you were a coordinator, you would likely be able to manage time, stay organised and be creative. These are all things that employers look for in candidates, but go unrecognised when you only list your Computer Science degree on your CV.

What’s Next?

Join a club! If you are not part of one of the activities above, get involved. There is a group or activity for everyone at university, and if there isn’t you can still create your own!

If you are already involved in an activity, test how you can tell future employers about why these skills are great! Write down the skills you have experienced from extracurricular activities in a STAR format. This format will really help you when you get to talk about these skills. Here is an example to get you going:

Course Representative:

Presentation Skills, Teamwork, Leadership, Organization:

S (situation): As a course representative I represent the view of the 200 students on my course. This is a key method for the university to understand how changes are affecting students, and whether there is any support they can give students during their academic studies.

T (task): At the end of the academic year, I had to feed back to the university student’s views on a new module on the course.

A (actions): I had worked with my peers to discuss the areas of the module they liked, and areas of improvement. From this I was able to create a power point presentation to clearly demonstrate to the university team what the students thought as a collective. From the feedback, there were concerns over the amount of assignments in the second terms.

R (result): As a result, the university team decided to change the assessment timetable to make sure assignments were more evenly spread throughout the year. 

With millions of resumes being sent out every year, it can be tough to stand out from the crowd. Extracurricular activities are the perfect way to differentiate yourself from other prospective job candidates. They are tangible ways to show the soft skills you have and will be able to implement on a daily basis once you land the job. Go join a club, or run for student office, or play a sport – It could be the key to getting the job.

Are you looking for your dream role in technology or business? We welcome graduates, returners to work, and ex-forces/veterans into our fast-track career programmes.

Read more careers advice articles from our blog:

Featured image credit: Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash 

Updated 14 June 2019


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