Three Reasons Why Extracurricular Activities are a CV Essential

Let’s get back to basics: your CV’s purpose is to sell your capabilities in order to progress to the next stage of the recruitment process – the job interview.

Your CV must therefore provide your recruiter or potential employer with information to determine what your professionally-relevant capabilities are, and how they match the position’s requirements (and you’ve of course tailored your CV to fit the position…right?)

Easy.

Now, here’s the difficult part: how does one best demonstrate what they’re professionally capable of? Most candidates assume that one can only do this by detailing their academic history and professional experiences (if any). After all, we learn our tools for our trades in the schools, universities, and offices of the world – right?

Hmm. Only half right, I’m afraid.

Besides being an arguably greater source of your professional development, your extracurricular activities and interests will also help you progress through the recruitment process.

Innovate CV TV was luckily able to speak to Lawrence Lever, founder and chairman of London-based finance publisher Citywire. A veteran CV reader and interviewer, Lawrence strongly encourages candidates to appropriately detail their extracurricular activities and hobbies. Let’s see why:

1. Extracurricular activities and interests helps you stand out:

“[I’m looking for] somebody with a bit of spark. Someone with maybe something slightly different about them [such as] a particular hobby. Something that makes them stand out. I always find that when I’m looking at a CV, my eyes go to what hobbies they’ve got, or what they do outside of work.”

– Lawrence Lever

Here’s an insider’s secret: After reading through hundreds of CVs, all recruiters will admit that they tend to somewhat melt into one another. However, your extracurricular activities and interests will catch your application readers attention, and help your CV stand out. You’re involved in a Big Brother charity? Now that’s different…and memorable. And if your interests overlap with the person reading your CV, you’ve automatically earned yourself a prized competitive advantage.

2. Extracurricular activities and interests are the perfect interview ice breaker

“[Extracurricular activities and interests] provides a conversation point. It’s a decent way to get to know someone without having to ask formal questions. I think it is important. ”

– Lawrence Lever

Generally, interviewers are always looking to initiate the interview as naturally as possible. By detailing your  extracurricular activities and interests, your interviewer may likely open the interview by asking about such points of interest.

“I see you’re very interested in wildlife protection…”

Don’t brush off such questions. This is a dream opportunity. Discussing your outside influences will truly demonstrate your personality and enthusiasm – and that’s exactly what the recruiter wants to see. People are best presented and most comfortable when talking about something they’re passionate about. You’ll make a great first impression, and set a confident rhythm for the remainder of the interview.

Image: derrypubliclibrary

3. Extracurricular activities and interests develop and demonstrate your professional characteristics and skills

Such pursuits enhance one’s character and develop relevant skills. Let’s look at an example:

Ben, a 23 year old advertising candidate has also been a practising children’s magician for six years.

After devoting six years honing his performance and attracting gigs, Ben had been quietly (and even unknowingly) building remarkable foundations for his future career – besides earning some spare cash and having a lot of fun!

  • Characteristics enhanced – confidence, persistence, creativity, initiative, sharpness.
  • Skills developed – public speaking , communicating, marketing, influencing, negotiating.

“Relevant experience is useful, but it’s not an absolutely pre-requisite. Are they the right kind of person? Are they hungry? Do they really want the job? Are they going to work hard? We’ve taken lots of people with no relevant experiences, but if they’re hard working and enthusiastic, they’ll get there.”

– Lawrence Lever

Extracurricular activities and interests are able to perfectly demonstrate these requirements.

Look out for upcoming continuation of this article, where we’ll look at how to appropriately detail extracurricular activities and interests on your CV. And we’ll also see what common mistakes you can’t afford to make.

A free Innovate CV can help you get the job you always wanted. Find out how we can help you with your job search!

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6 Comments on “Three Reasons Why Extracurricular Activities are a CV Essential”

  1. Henderson_Blackpool
    November 3, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    Excellent points. Furthermore, I think an additional point must be made on ‘sensitive’ activities – ie, political, religious etc. How should a candidate best approach these issues?

  2. November 4, 2010 at 6:43 am #

    Hi Henderson,

    Thanks for your comment. You’re absolutely right – such activities should be carefully considered. We’ll be touching on this issue in our follow up blog!

  3. Harris Wolman
    November 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    I think the key point is to demonstrate skills from hobbies and show that you have an active life and dont just plonk yourself infront of the TV.Also common ground with an interviewer will always help.But beware in case the interviewer knows about the hobby and you have added in something ficticious that looks good!

    • November 5, 2010 at 8:31 am #

      Harris,

      Firstly, congratulations on being our blog’s 150th commentor!

      Secondly, we can’t disagree with any of your points. As Lord Jim Knight commented in our most recent article, it’s vital that we don’t just waste away our time by plonking (great word!) ourselves infront of the Xbox, and that we can verify this when applying for a position. You’re spot on.

      And as you warn, one should never resort to ‘white lies’ when jobsearching. They’ll always come back to haunt a candidate. Sooner or later.

      Thanks for the comment, Harris!

  4. December 20, 2010 at 2:13 am #

    “It’s a decent way to get to know someone without having to ask formal questions. I think it is important.”
    How much is real?

    • December 20, 2010 at 5:58 am #

      Thanks for your comment, nancacong! However, so we can best answer your question, are you able to elaborate?

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