When you’re looking for a job, your resume is going to be how an employer first gets to know you. Of course you want to include the work experience and education that makes you qualified for a job, but should you include your experience volunteering?
Listing volunteer work on your resume also can add a lot of valuable information to your job history, especially for new job seekers or recent graduates with short resumes. Volunteer positions can fill gaps in employment – so for students whose employment history is short, volunteer work can be an especially important addition to your resume.
How do you include information about volunteering on your resume?
There is no ‘right’ way to write a resume, so there is no right way to include information about volunteering on a resume.
Where do I include volunteer experience?
If you’re just out of school and you don’t have a lot of work experience, it’s okay to include volunteering along with paid work. Be prepared to answer questions about your volunteer work and how it helped to make you qualified for the job. It’s important to describe the volunteer experience in a way that shows how what you’ve learned while volunteering applies to the job you’re applying for.
If you have a longer work history, you can have a different section for your volunteer experience. Be sure to include information about the volunteer position that is relevant to the paid position that you’re applying for.
What if the volunteer position title was just “volunteer?”
Including “volunteer” on your resume may be accurate, but it might leave questions from your potential employer. Think about the work that you did while volunteering and talk to your volunteer supervisor to see if there’s a more appropriate title for the work that you did.
How should I describe the volunteer work that I did?
Describe the volunteer work in terms of what you achieved. Highlight the skills that you learned while volunteering.
Did you raise a lot of money? Did you manage a budget or accomplish goals on schedule? Did you supervise a staff of people? Even if they were volunteers too, your success required the ability to be a motivating leader.
If you are a student seeking your first job after school, being able to show volunteer work on a resume demonstrates that you had interests beyond the classroom. If you are returning to the paid work force after some time away, your volunteer activities can show that you kept yourself sharp and involved. If you want to change career fields, it may be your volunteer work in the new field that tells a prospective employer you’re worth the risk, even if all your paid employment history is in some other field.
Have you included your volunteer work on your resume? Did it help you to get a job? Tell us about it in the comments!