Separating the best from the rest...
Now let’s be clear, right from the start. It’s unlikely that your extracurricular activities alone are going to secure the vacancy you are sizing up. Your professional skills and career experience will almost always come first. So if that’s the case, why should you bother showcasing extracurricular activities at all?
Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. You have sifted through a weighty pile of CVs and picked out the candidates with the skills to succeed in the role. Thing is, these candidates are all kind of similar. This is where extracurricular skills can be the ace in your hand. They help to differentiate you from other candidates while reinforcing the depth of your skill set.
Let’s put it another way. Your extracurricular achievements can demonstrate transferable skills that are highly valued by potential employers - such as self-motivation, time management and leadership. Sure, extracurricular activities play a supporting role in your application. But a potentially decisive one nonetheless.
Drop your ego.
The purpose of any CV or interview is to demonstrate how you can solve a staffing problem or skills shortage for your potential employer. It’s not about dispassionately reeling off a synopsis of your entire career history. It’s about showing how your particular skill set and professional experience can solve your potential employer’s problem. Understand that and you will be head and shoulders above most other candidates, before you’ve even entered the recruitment process.
Does anybody care?
Again, put yourself in the shoes of your potential employer and think about what they want to hear. If you mention your extracurricular activities, do so in a way that highlights skills that can be transferred to the professional environment. When drafting your CV or preparing answers for an interview, always keep one question in mind: does it make for a stronger application?
Quantify your successes
Sometimes it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the nuances of your life. But don’t forget that your potential employer knows nothing about what you do in your spare time. Make is easy for them. Make your success measurable.
Instead of saying that you attend an evening class to learn French, state how long you’ve been doing it, what qualification you are working towards and what level you are at. Rather than saying that you enjoy coding, explain what programming languages you know and what you have built with them. Leadership within sports or just being part of a team is also highly relevant.
Making a song and dance
The same applies for your hobbies. You don’t need to make a song and dance about your singing and dancing. But you should highlight any relevant achievements. For example instead of saying that you are a keen runner, explain that you have completed five half marathons and will be running another this summer. It demonstrates a goal-focused mindset - and that’s something that every employer loves.
What’s the difference between extracurricular activities and hobbies? Well in a very general sense, the first is something that you pursue with some degree of professionalism and commitment. The latter is something that you do in your spare time for fun. Should hobbies be mentioned on your CV or in interview? Yes, if it’s relevant. It helps to give away a little of your personality outside of work, which can help you stand out. However, mentioning hobbies is best for non-senior positions unless it’s particularly relevant to your application.
Save it for later
We said it before, we’ll say it again. It’s your professional skills and career experience that are the main determinant of almost any type of job application. That’s why your extracurricular achievements and hobbies should come at the end of your CV.
The same ethos applies for interviews. When answering questions to demonstrate proficiency in a certain area, select examples from your professional life first. Then you can supplement your answer with snippets from your extracurricular achievements or hobbies.
Over to you...
Supplementing your application process with a few details about your hobbies or extracurricular achievements will give your potential employer a more rounded view of who you are and where your skills lie. Just make sure anything you mention is relevant to your application. And remember that your professional skills and career experience take precedence. Best of luck!
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