How much do extracurriculars matter when applying for a job?

As we begin a new semester and a new recruiting season there are many of you wondering how to balance good grades/extracurriculars/family/friends. Should you strictly focus on academics? Joining a club will probably be fun, but it might be a lot of work, and the real question is: will it help you get a job

Over the next few weeks our team will review hundreds of candidates in search of new management consultants. This year I’ve been volun-told to head up our resume screening team and I have learned some very interesting things about what we look for in a candidate for management consulting and I’d like to share some of that information with you:

1. Academics are important, but not as important as you think

We end up scoring our applicants in 5 different areas: Academics, Work Experience, Life Experience, Leadership, and Written Communications. Although I won’t give away the weightings, I will say that no single category is weighted more than 30%. To me this is a big surprise. 2/5 categories are basically extracurricular activity based: Leadership and Life Experience!

2. Quantity or quality, hard to say

Obviously for athletes and some other types of people, it’s difficult to be involved with more than one thing. But in the end, how it looks is almost as important as how it actually was. Take an example of a person who was a member of a varsity athletic team vs. someone who was involved in a lot of random clubs:

Athlete:
Assistant Captain, Running Back, Golden Bears Football, 2012-2015

Crazy club person:
VP Operations, Business Finance Association 2012-2013
VP Finance, Business Exchange Association 2013-2015
Events Director, Business Students Association 2014-2015

I can almost guarantee the running back spent more time and effort on his extra-curricular than the crazy clubs person (which by the way isn’t that crazy, I knew a girl who was addicted to clubs, and she was in an average of 3 clubs a year). And even though both are consistent, the clubs person seems to show more leadership.

3. The airport test

At my company, we always talk about the airport test. How long could you handle being stuck talking to this person in an airport lounge? Here is exact copy from our resume screening guide:

Scoring Key: Life Experience

Exceptional = 24 hr blizzard delay in Minneapolis
Strong = 3 hr mechanical delay in Newark
Normal = Ontime shuttle to Montreal
Weak = Hide in the bathroom until plane is fully boarded

And that I think says it all. Your resume and gamut of extracurriculars and life experience need to add up to something interesting. Well interesting enough that I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a an airport with you for at least a few hours!

Remember, the way you portray your extracurricular activities on a resume is just like a presentation! So make your next resume into a masterpiece!

Warm regards,

Aaleem Jiwa

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