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Standout stuff to put on your resume

Information that could make you stand out from the crowd may seem irrelevant to you.

By Karen Datko Apr 14, 2010 10:45AM

This post comes from Julie Rains at partner blog Wise Bread.


Deciding what to include and leave out of a résumé can be perplexing. Professional goals should influence those decisions. But I have found that job hunters can intrigue potential bosses and land interviews based on (seemingly) irrelevant but standout stuff.


Consider including standout items in these categories, or others that differentiate you and add dimension to your professional presence:



Marathons. Running a marathon indicates that you're disciplined, goal-oriented and fit. Success can also convey focus, endurance and energy.


Triathlons. Completing a triathlon shows that you're flexible enough to master multiple sports and can plan and manage transitions. Just as importantly, you enjoy challenge and camaraderie.


College athletics. Making the roster of a collegiate team most likely means you're competitive, team-oriented, good at managing your time (handling intensive training and academics), and are willing to be coached and mentored.



Eagle Scout (Boy Scouts) or Gold Award (Girl Scouts). Attaining this rank or earning this top award shows that you can plan and organize a project, get support from friends, acquire resources for project funding, and oversee the execution of a project. You've probably learned plenty about bureaucracy by preparing documentation, submitting plans, getting approvals or reworking proposals, etc. Your scout dedication and prowess will resonate with those who have achieved similar status.


Greek organizations. If you've held an officer position with a sorority or fraternity in college, then you've had the opportunity to develop planning, leadership and communication skills. You've had to figure out how to get people's attention and cooperation, promote the positive aspects of your group to university administration and area businesses, organize philanthropy projects that are fun, and achieve fundraising goals. You've probably also handled mundane tasks like creating meeting agendas and administering budgets.


Clubs, community groups, etc. Holding an officer position or heading a committee can illustrate leadership, organization, people-motivation and presentation skills as well as specific skills, such as event planning, recruitment, and program planning depending on your assignment.


Personal development

Study abroad. Studying in a foreign country shows that you can adapt to a new environment, and, most likely, appreciate cultural differences and speak a foreign language. Cross-cultural skills are especially valued in organizations with a diverse workforce and global customer base.


Adventure. This means participating in some form of wilderness-type adventure such as hiking the Appalachian Trail or joining a mountain-climbing expedition. Taking part in one of these trips reveals that you can get things done with limited resources, and respond quickly and soundly to emergencies or unusual situations.


Business owner. If you've run your own business or generated income from a sideline, you've demonstrated management capabilities (or self-management skills). And, you might reveal creative talents in the areas of photography, writing, or graphic design, or business knowledge of sales, sourcing, purchasing and shipping techniques.

These activities and accomplishments can be included in your résumé or LinkedIn profile, but they don't have to be the most prominent items. A brief mention in a section entitled "Activities" or "Interests" with selected items is fine. If you have loads of accomplishment-laden experience and don't see the need to showcase your depth through these outside interests, you can make brief references. If you are getting started in your career, then a one- or two-line explanation can illuminate skills gained through these efforts.

Business owners who are looking for a full-time job and plan to continue running the business might position this section as "Additional Experience" or "Freelance Experience." Or, if you've been unemployed for a while, put this experience first to show that you've been busy while waiting for the right position.


Some career experts condemn the practice of mentioning personal activities as unprofessional and irrelevant. However, résumés in "Expert Resumes for Military-to-Civilian Transitions" and "Resumes for the Rest of Us" (books that contain samples of my work) do mention outside activities, such as "Avid golfer with multiple tournament championships in amateur competition" and "United Way Volunteer Campaign Coordinator" to show dedication to excellence and community involvement.


And, in Dan Schwabel's Student Branding Blog, Dan Klamm champions the value of promoting involvement in student organizations (including Greek organizations). His rationale reflects my thoughts: Not every HR recruiter or hiring manager will find these personal items appealing, but many decision-makers will make an instant connection and recognize your talent.


Related reading at Wise Bread:



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