Date posted: 2/03/2017

5 extracurricular activities to help you stand out and get ahead

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One of the hard truths about the business world is that each year there are more graduates looking for roles than there are positions available. This makes for fierce competition among those looking to get ahead. While grades are a factor, one way to give yourself the competitive edge is by showcasing your extracurricular activities, because they demonstrate the soft skills - or your personality and communication skills.

Here are five extracurricular activities that will look great on your CV and help you get ahead:

1. Learn another language

Workplaces view polyglots (that's a speaker of more than one language) very favourably these days. Many financial services and accounting businesses are expanding their reach into Asia, so if you speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay or any language in the region, you'll be putting yourself in high esteem with those firms.

If your school or university doesn't already offer language courses, there are plenty of options to investigate nationwide, whether in Australia or New Zealand. However, prepare to invest a large portion of your time if you're starting from scratch. You'll need at least a year to develop the vocabulary to conduct business conversations, and even longer to become fluent. Need another reason to commit to learning a language from scratch? It demonstrates hard work and dedication, which looks fantastic on a resume.

2. Volunteer overseas

Employers value volunteering for many reasons, partially because it demonstrates you're willing to give up your time to help others and work towards a common cause, but also because it shows initiative, drive and potential leadership abilities. Consider the following. An employer has two resumes: one doesn't have work experience but has volunteered in Africa for the past six months, while the other has six months' experience working in a call centre but has never left their city. Which would you choose?

International volunteering shows courage because you are willing to get on a plane and help in a culture - and likely a language - different from your own, all while thousands of miles from home.

3. Tutor your peers

Tutoring instantly shows you are very knowledgeable in one or more subjects. Good grades certainly demonstrate you understand the material, but the ability to impart your knowledge to others is a very valuable workplace skill. Tutoring showcases many skills including strong communication, working effectively with others and the organisational prowess to deliver what is expected of you. Further, it shows you are academically driven and eager to learn and share - all of which are positive traits if the business decides to pay for your training.

4. Join student governance

Playing a hand in your school or university council displays several of your attributes. It shows you're confident networking with your peers and that you can handle responsibility. If the student council could trust you to carry out tasks on their behalf, then it follows that an employer could do the same. You'll also show that you've (potentially) developed good problem-solving skills when working in large groups, as well as additional beneficial skills such as negotiation, motivating others and teamwork.

5. Show off your long-term hobby

Have you been debating since school? Or playing the violin since you were in nappies? You should convey that in your resume, even if you don't think it relates to the position. The purpose of this addition is to show that you have long-term dedication to something and that you possess the constitution to see things through.

Demonstrate to potential employers that you're a star with a long list of extracurricular activities. Start today!