As a college student, you might not have many job experiences to put on your resume when you start looking for a job. I know how frustrating it was for me to put my first resume together with no work experience! I wasn’t sure what to list, or how a recruitment agency would look at me. Without much job experience, it’s important to give recruitment agencies and prospective employers insight into what kind of person you are, how well-rounded your interests are and whether you’ll be a team player.
You can do this by doing work or joining clubs that might not count as an actual job for pay. Recruiters do indeed look at your extracurricular activities when deciding if you’re appropriate for their entry level position. But be careful: not every club you’ve ever joined or nursing home candy striper volunteer work you’ve ever done will be right for every job you apply for.
Include extracurricular activities or not?
In the article, “These are the types of extracurriculars hiring managers really want to see on your resume” on Monster.com, Jon Simmons noted that hiring managers want you to:
- Have quality experience over quantity, so match your experience with your intended job, such as medical-related charity work with a medical job, or business clubs for an accounting job.
- Be active in your community, which shows you can fit into the company’s community and can share knowledge with others.
- Show transferable skills and ways you can demonstrate what you can do.
According to Simmons, hiring managers also want to see that you can be a leader. He wrote, “List on your resume that you are part of a fraternity, organized chapter meetings and proposed a new type of charity work. Were you a part of student government? Did you organize a forum to talk about an issue that students were passionate about? Include that, along with the project results.”
Qualifications recruiters look for
A survey of recruiters of college graduates by Farmer School of Business, the Miami University Career Services, and talent acquisition directors of Bloomberg’s 2015 Top Places to Launch a Career, found that the top three qualifications recruiters look for in college applicants are 1) work experience, 2) leadership positions, and 3) GPA. For students with a lower GPA, recruiters were willing to look at other qualifications when considering whether to grant an interview. These were students who 1) worked full-time, 2) were heavily involved in student organizations, and 3) had connections to employees already at the company.
In “What employers really look for in recent college graduates,” Sam Korach of USA Today explained, “A strong majority of firms (63%) had defined core competencies that they were looking for in candidates. They were looking for specific skill sets, not just good grades.” In addition to good grades and personal relationships, “a well-rounded college experience (with good grades) is the optimal approach to land the interview you want—and be offered a job as an outcome of that process,” wrote Korach.
It’s better to have extracurriculars
According to recruiters who answered the question, “Do employers look at extracurriculars?” posted at Unigo.com, while not all recruiters do, it’s better for college students to have extracurriculars than not. Tira Harpaz, founder of CollegeBound Advice, wrote, “Most employers want to hire people who have exhibited hard work, dedication and organizational ability and your extracurricular activities can often highlight those skills.” I don’t know for sure if my extracurriculars got me my first job, but they gave me something I could confidently talk about in my first interview!