Let’s face it: sororities and fraternities get a lot of negative media attention, and stereotypes about Greek life leak into all sorts of places. I decided to find out whether or not you should mention your sorority or fraternity involvement on your resume.
The Career Center at UC Berkeley offers students free 20-minute appointments with professionals who can give you personalized help on your resume. I talked to Janet White, one of the career counselors on staff, to understand the best way to market your Greek experience.
To start off, what kind of connotation might Greek involvement have in a professional setting or on your resume?
“It’s really hard to say whether it would have one particular connotation, because you just don’t know who’s reading [your resume]… but if they’re any kind of human resource professional they shouldn’t be allowing extreme biases. They should be looking at the fact that if you’re Greek then obviously you must be able to work well or cooperate well with other people. If you’ve had any kind of position then that could show leadership, then you’ve got some skills in that position, so they should look at that as positive.”
How would you recommend marketing those kind of skills to employers, especially in an officer position?
“So, one thing I’d recommend is that employers look beyond what appears on the surface. If you were planning events, that’s relevant in so many places. If you were welcoming new members and explaining to them about how things work, that’s relevant… you just want to make sure that you’ve got descriptions that are detailed enough and that show results, like if you plan an event that has 200 people at it make sure you get that number in there. If you do a fundraiser and raise a bunch of money, get that in there. Because employers aren’t looking for it to be an exact fit, they’re looking for the transferrable skills, which is what you’re building.”
If you’re just a member of a sorority or fraternity and you don’t hold a position, what might you be able to market to employers?
“So if your members are participating in any fundraising or philanthropy things they could have that [on their resume]. The fact that they’re living in a situation with a lot of other people and have to learn how to negotiate and accept differences and things like that, work out problems, it’s actually a good soft skill. So that’s something they could talk about.”
Should you put an officer position under work experience or extracurriculars?
“I think you could put it under work experience but you’d want to be transparent about it, so you could you say in parentheses “unpaid officer position” or “unpaid leadership role.” So it’s honest but if it’s a lot of work and you’re developing all these skills, I think that would be fine. Also, some people would make a separate category called “leadership” and put it there.”
And here’s even more good news: According to a Business Insider article, “Fraternity and sorority members’ engagement advantage indicates that they are more likely to be intellectually and emotionally connected to their organizations and enthusiastic about their work. Overall, 43% of fraternity and sorority members who are employed full time for an employer are engaged in the workplace, compared with 38% of all other college graduates.”
After speaking with Janet about some of the specifics, I decided to hear what some college kids had to say on the matter:
Lizzy Gulino, 20, Ithaca College
“I’m not in a sorority because my school doesn’t have Greek life, but if I was I think I’d definitely put it on my resume! My friends in sororities do tons of charity work and almost all of them have leadership positions. I think any extracurriculars where you have a leadership position look good to an employer.”
Allison Jasne, 19, Drexel University
“Pi Nu Epsilon is something I do put on my resume because it’s an honors music fraternity…and it’s also the most non-frat frat ever. We participate in service on campus by ushering the shows (theater, concerts, dance, etc.) and meet once a week but a lot of that is also a chance to hang out with our music and theater friends since we’re all so busy with rehearsal. At Drexel, academic and social frats/sororities are very different, and to my friends in social ones it’s not even “Greek life.” I will also be the co-Service Coordinator next year and I’m planning on running for other leadership positions as well.”
Hannah Kwawu, 19, William and Mary
“I think Greek life is a great thing to put on your resume. Firstly it can be a great networking tool, a lot of girls I know use a shared sorority to start conversations with recruiters. Secondly (and this applies particularly woth leadership positions) it shows that you have teamwork abilities. Putting on philanthropy events require all sisters to work together and can involve hundreds of people. Finally it shows that you are social. More and more companies are looking for people who get along with others.”
Sarah Stewart, 19, Syracuse University
“I do put it on my resumé because I have a leadership position (I’m our risk management coordinator, so my job is to make sure we follow the rules and everyone’s safe and no one dies and such), so in that sense it’s definitely useful to put on a resume. However, I might not always have it on my resume without thinking about it first.
“I’m in a sorority up north, and the way northern sororities operate can be very different, i.e., smaller pledge classes, less stereotypical, and rush is so much less stressful. So being in a sorority presents a different picture of me in the North than in the South, so while I generally have it on my resume, there might potentially be instances in which I take it off because of the stereotypes associated with women in social sororities.”