Volunteer for the Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Bike polo captain. Six-time marathon finisher. Part-time cannabis farmer. These are the job skills from resumes that Ashley Irvine, Growth Manager at Three Ships and Remedy Review, says she has never forgotten — and thinks more people should copy.
"Recruiters want to see candidates that stand apart from the ‘average Joe.’ We want to know that the prospective hire will impact our company in a unique way, both functionally and culturally,” Irvine explains. While not every quirky trait will lead to a job offer, unexpected accomplishments and hobbies that lend themselves to a job position can portray you as a memorable and qualified candidate.
Whether you’re a stand-up comedian or play club soccer, here are 11 surprising things to keep on your resume.
1. Music and Theater Performance
Playing an instrument, singing, acting – these talents all demonstrate your ability to keep your cool when in the spotlight, according to Laurie Kahn, CEO of Media Staffing Network. “This can showcase your communication skills and ability to remain calm and poised when all eyes are upon you,” says Kahn.
Personal blogs used to be seen as not “professional enough” for resumes, but these outlets can be an excellent way to showcase your individual voice and self-starting tendencies. Sophie Miles, CEO & co-founder of elmejortrato.com, says that blogs demonstrate “the entrepreneurial background, the ability to write, and the constancy required to initiate something on the web.”
If you’re unsure if the content on your blog is work appropriate, feature a blog you kept from a vacation or study abroad program. “It gives you some perspective into how they were able to document the experience and their strengths in certain areas, such as photography or writing about where they went and what they did and learned along the way,” suggests Dana Case, Director of Operations at MyCorporation.com.
3. Extracurriculars in College
Beyond academic accomplishments, talking about your involvement in student activities gives a potential employer a peek into your personality. “It can illustrate how involved you are and what some of your passions include,” says Kahn. Jan Hudson, partner at Surf Search, also suggests listing college courses from in areas different from your job field — for example, a medical professional who took classes in English Literature — to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate.
4. Experience in the Service Industry
While your first job as a waitress might not seem relevant to your professional life, Case argues service positions provide a candidate with valuable skills. “This gives me insight into the applicant's ability to cater to the needs of customers and what they learned from being in customer service,” she says.
5. Stand-up Comedy
A background in comedy is no laughing matter; according to Mollie Moric, a career advisor and hiring manager at Resume Genius, “experience performing stand-up comedy demonstrates a candidate’s confidence with public speaking, ability to improvise, the capacity to network, and comfort with the possibility of rejection.”
Participation in sports shows off your collaboration and communication skills, says Jane Pesch, Senior Staffing Manager at WinterWyman. Debbie Winkelbauer, partner at Surf Search, affirms that athletics are an example of a job seeker’s strengths in “competition, discipline, teamwork and the ability to overcome failure.”
7. Community Service
A background in community service is a great trait to list on your resume, according to Kelly Finn, Principal at WymanWinter, especially if the employer encourages community involvement. “Many companies have formal Community Service Days/Programs and they like to see prospective candidates who support their mission to give back,” Finn advises.
By participating in competitions in related fields, job candidates reveal their enthusiasm for their work outside of their 9 to 5. According to Moric, “Even if the candidate didn’t secure a position on the podium, it demonstrates a passion for their role, commitment to expanding their skills, and active participation in the industry.”
Serving as a mentor for students or colleagues indicates a dedication to helping others grow, especially for professionals more established in their careers. “As people grow their careers, we look for well-rounded candidates who are not only career focused but also have something to give back,” Hudson explains.
10. Book Club Member
Beyond showing a love for reading, Moric says participation in a book club demonstrates a job seeker’s interest in learning new things. “Membership in a book club demonstrates a candidate’s commitment to actively expanding their knowledge base and openly discussing new information,” says Moric.
11. Freelance Work
While freelance experience might not look as strong as full-time employment, Jennifer Roquemore, co-founder of Resume Writing Services, says it still means more than no work at all. “I always suggest including your freelance experience on your resume, especially if you were unemployed during that period of time. It's far better to show you were at least working on something as opposed to nothing at all,” says Roquemore.
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