Why Graduating From College Doesn't Mean You Stop Padding Your Resume

by Mary Rebecca Harakas

I have always been a type-A go-getter.

In college, I would eagerly commit to any leadership position, community service opportunity or other way to get involved in clubs and in my sorority. Ultimately, I felt it was simply part of the age-old advice that your first employer wants to see you were very involved in college.

It demonstrates your work ethic, ability to juggle multiple commitments while maintaining good grades and your commitment to the community.

Even while applying for college, I heard the same advice as a high schooler: Be as involved in high school as possible because colleges love active students.

So I took the advice. And after getting into a good college and burning myself out with commitments, I thought, "Whew! I can finally breathe."

I told myself I would focus on work and disregard any additional commitments that might float my way.

But let's face it: My personality doesn't settle for just one commitment. We type-A individuals thrive on stress, constant action, multitasking and continual thrills. We are restless, goal-oriented people, who want to maximize every moment we have in the day.

The description may sound awful, but it's truthful. With this kind of personality, I realized that suddenly omitting extra commitments wasn't something I could do.

My not-so-type-A friends always seemed less stressed, go-with-the-flow and uncommitted to anything other than work. I'm not saying all other individuals are like this, but I quickly noticed that, at my will, my schedules often appeared more packed with plans than those of my peers.

Why did I do this? Aside from realizing that my type-A personality can't handle not multitasking, I realized that juggling multiple commitments, just like I did in high school and college, is still a resume builder.

And although I had already graduated from college, I soon realized building a resume doesn't stop there.

I know, it's sad news to my non-type-A colleagues.

But all hope isn't lost. There are plenty of ways to boost your resume, without getting bent out of shape like I often do. Before you decide you really don't need to continue your involvement with your community or groups, consider the following:

Employers want to see more than just work experience.

I'm sure there's been a time when you've run into someone who could only talk about one subject, like sports, shopping or celebrities.

The same goes for your employer (or potential ones). If all you have is one type of experience on your resume, it's great for showing your experience in that particular field. However, it's not so great at showing how much of a well-rounded person you are.

Any employer wants their client to be impressed with their team members. The ability to discuss multiple topics, share your involvement with the community or discuss your leadership roles only enhances your career.

Juggling multiple commitments effectively parallels juggling multiple projects effectively.

The key word here is "effectively."

Similar to your high school and college days, commitments didn't really pay off on your resume unless you actually did something in the organization or club, like hold a leadership position.

The same goes for juggling multiple commitments post-college. Holding a leadership role or an effective, influential position with an organization outside of your career develops skills that can be applied to your work, regardless of the field.

If an employer sees a demonstrated ability to stay on top of multiple commitments, they're more likely to believe you could effectively handle multiple projects at a time.

Involvement in other avenues opens doors to new opportunities.

Generally, we're told never to burn bridges, especially with former employers or colleagues, since you never know when a certain connection might come in handy.

While I find this to be true, know there are other avenues in which to develop professional relationships. Involvement in community organizations brings people from different fields together, and fostering these relationships opens doors that could lead to potential career opportunities in the future.

And aside from career prospects, you can never have too many friends. Involvement in other organizations can lead to lasting friendships with like-minded people.

So yes, to both my type-A and non-type-A colleagues: Involvement outside of work is critical to continue building your resume at any stage of your career.

There's no need to throw in the “I don't have time because work consumes me” excuse.

There are several ways to get involved in other opportunities, without an intense time commitment: freelance writing, weekend volunteering, community events or church organizations.

The sky is the limit. Decide now, before an employer has to decide between the well-rounded, active individual or the flat, work-driven individual.