What Employers Think When They See Co-Curricular Activities On Your Resume

8.11.20 What employers think when they see co-curricular activities on your resume

The activity fair is right around the corner – it’s a great chance to get involved on campus. But, you are also focused on life after college – will getting involved on campus help you land your ideal job after you graduate? Will spreading yourself thin be worth it in the end?

Co-Curricular vs. Extra-Curricular

Not all activities are created equal. There are two types of activities: co-curricular and extra-curricular. In broad terms, co-curricular activities are activities that let you practice hands-on skills outside of the classroom. Think: budding journalists writing for the school paper. If you aren’t receiving academic credit for it, you would consider it a co-curricular activity.

On the other hand, extra-curricular activities are something you do for fun. This might be an origami club, intramural team, or art club. You are still developing skills that you can use later in life, but the central purpose behind these clubs is to allow you to blow off a little steam and have fun with your college classmates.

Why Get Involved?

When you get involved in activities outside of class, you learn things that you can’t learn online or in a book. You pick up communication skills, develop leadership abilities, hone time management skills, and a whole host of other skills. You also get to know people that you may not meet in your classes. It’s an easy way to make friends with people who have similar interests. But, there’s another reason to check out that club or activity – students who get involved on campus have higher retention and graduation rates, as well as higher GPAs. That alone makes student senate seem more appealing, doesn’t it?

What do Employers Think?

Many students applying for a first job will wonder whether to include activities on their resume but wonder what employers will think. Well, employers weighed in:

  • Leadership Skills – Applicants with activities like Student Senate on their resume had an easier time in leadership positions. They were better able to build consensus and make decisions with their peers.
  • Time Management – People who are able to juggle multiple priorities, like classwork, off-campus jobs, and activities were better at juggling multiple priorities at work. They tend to be flexible on the job, and better able to handle the added responsibility.
  • Adaptable – Many people check out a club or activity to explore an interest. Activities are a great way to try something new without a lot of commitment. This signals to employers that you are adaptable and open to new experiences.
  • Soft Skills – The latest buzzword is difficult to quantify on a resume, but being involved in multiple activities can signal to an employer that you have developed communication skills, leadership abilities, and project management experience. These are skills employers need at every level of their organization.

Enhancing Your Resume

When you sit down to create your first resume or apply for that first job after college, do you need to list every activity you were involved with on campus? Definitely not. Think about the activities that align with the job you are applying for or activities that could demonstrate that you learned new skills. You never know – the club you started may spark an interesting conversation during a future interview and make you a memorable candidate.


Whether you are looking to get involved or you want to know how to best position your clubs and activities on your resume, we can help. Our student success centers at Ellsworth and Marshalltown can not only help you with study skills but can also help with resume writing and interview skills. They can help you position those activities so you can make the most of them long after your time in college!