The Business Standard reached out to a career coach, an academic professional, and a recruiter to reflect on this issue.
'If you have no work experience, I hope and pray you took part in co-curricular activities'
Ghulam Sumdany Don
Chief Inspirational Officer, Don Sumdany Facilitation & Consultancy
Co-curricular activities teach us life skills which can not be learned from regular academia.
You can develop skills through co-curricular activities and learn how to interact with people or navigate difficult situations, coordination, team work, sales management, handling money, etc. Having said that, co-curricular activities and part time jobs are not the same.
If you are paid for offering a professional service, it can be considered as experience but if you are putting in hours for free, it could be deemed as extra or co-curricular activities.
So, my advice would be to keep a separate section for experience and co-curricular activities in your curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé.
If you have no experience at all, I hope and pray that you have participated in co-curricular activities at least because nowadays, having a degree is not good enough for any interview board. It does not meet the minimum requirements.
If there are not enough talking points on your résumé, what will the interview board talk to you about?
They will definitely not ask a marketing major what s/he learned from Philip Kotler's marketing book. They would like to know how you will navigate a difficult workplace situation.
Apart from having a degree you must have ancillary experiences and skills as well. You can opt for part-time jobs. You can also include tuitions as experience since you have patiently invested time and were paid for it. Be it a private home tutor or teaching at a coaching centre, it is okay to include it in your CV or résumé.
Even if you do not have any work experience, you can talk about similar instances that arose in your university clubs which you may have handled strategically. If you can confidently answer questions extrapolated from your club work experience, you might land the job.
'Not all co-curricular experiences apply to the real world'
Wafi Aziz Sattar
Chief Executive Officer, La Team Bee Communications
Speaking from an employer and former educator's perspective, extracurricular and co-curricular activities are great life experiences that teach students how to work in group environments. It teaches people how to work together and with each other in a synergistic work environment.
Clubs and apprenticeship programmes are great hubs for that.
However, not all experiences gained from such programmes are always applicable to real-world work environments.
Educational institutions should firstly understand this themselves, and then be transparent about it with their students. Students should also understand this fact and still try to take as much learning as possible from their extracurricular and co-curricular activities.
In terms of putting these experiences in a curriculum vitae (CV) or a résumé as work experience, I find it unfitting. In a CV or résumé, the first thing you should be put in is your actual work experience, followed by academic information, and only after this should the information about extracurricular and co-curricular activities and other information come in.
If you have no work experience whatsoever, put your academic information first, followed by extracurricular and co-curricular experiences and other information.
On another note, say if a student was a barista, to think they are less compatible for a job than a club president would be wrong.
A barista not only has to prepare a drink, but also has to know about all the ingredients used in drinks, machines used to prepare the drinks, how to communicate with customers, and thereby, are far more in the know about a real job than someone who worked in an environment where the consequences of making a mistake was not dire and would not cost them or their management body or employer too much of a loss.
My advice, for everyone, would be to enjoy and learn as much as you can from extracurricular and co-curricular programmes, but not consider it as a selling point while seeking a job, or at an interview.
'Co-curricular activities should not be depicted as professional experience'
Hasnaeen Rizvi Rahman
Founder and CEO, ASTHA IT
If you are applying for a programming job and also have taught programming, you can mention it as work experience in your résumé.
If you have experience that is not relevant to the job you are applying for, I would suggest not including it in your résumé. Recruiters might assume that the applicant does not understand the concept of a CV or a résumé.
Be that as it may, If you are a fresh graduate and have no experience, you cannot just submit a blank CV or résumé. In this case, you have to utilise learnings from university and include it in your résumé. We all have worked on many projects in university.
No matter what discipline we come from, we indulge in a lot of research and group project activities. If such activities can be mentioned in the résumé in an enticing manner, it will add value to your prospects.
You can also include external certifications obtained besides your degree. Highlight your overall skills - softwares you specialise in, technical writing skills you possess, and so on.
Overall, if you do not have any work experience, you should highlight whatever you have learned besides what your degree taught you, in a relevant way to the designation you are applying for. If you are applying for a marketing job, there is no point in highlighting your programming skills in your résumé. However, co-curricular activities should not be depicted as professional experience.