Extracurricular activities in young applicants’ résumés: What are the motives behind their involvement?

Nicolas Roulin, Adrian Bangerter
Published Online:
24 Jul 2012
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 5

Additional Options

Applicants use résumés to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personal characteristics (KSAOs) to recruiters, through education and job‐related or non‐job‐related experiences. But research suggests that the situation for young applicants is especially competitive, since they increasingly enter the labour market with similar educational credentials and limited job‐related experience. They may thus use non‐job‐related experiences, such as participation in extracurricular activities (ECAs) during their studies, to demonstrate KSAOs to recruiters, but also to add distinction and value to their credentials. ECAs may therefore become more important in the selection of young applicants. Yet few studies have undertaken a comprehensive and systematic analysis of the relationships students have with these activities. The purpose of this study was to investigate to what extent students’ involvement in ECAs is due to internal (e.g., passion) or external (e.g., résumé‐building) motives, and what factors influence these motives. Results from a study with 197 students suggest that students engage in ECAs mainly out of internal motives. But external motives are stronger for activities started closer to entering the labour market, for students active in associative or volunteering activities (as compared to sports or artistic activities), and for students holding leadership positions in their activities. Our results suggest that labour market pressure may be a key component of applicants’ involvement in ECAs. Also, organizations and recruiters may want to consider that students tend not to engage in ECAs purely out of internal motives, but also to add value to their credentials and match employers’ expectations.

© International Union of Psychological Science