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How to List Volunteer Experience on a Resume?

how to list volunteer experience on a resume

Are you getting ready to apply for an important job?

It is no secret that you need to create a compelling resume that stands out from the crowd. It needs to grab the attention of employers and make them want to meet you. However, this can be a tricky task if you have limited or no work experience. Although your work section may be a little light, you might be able to pad it out a little with your volunteer experience. 

So, let’s learn how to list volunteer experience on a resume.

How Volunteer Experience Can Boost Your Hiring Potential?

When applying for certain roles, you are likely to be competing with several other candidates. In some cases, you may have similar skills and work experience as many other applicants. Therefore, it is important to make sure you include elements that make you stand out from the crowd.

Highlighting your volunteer experience is a good way to do this. It will show employers that you have a compassionate side while also demonstrating initiative. This will also give you something to talk about to break the ice during the interview.

How Volunteer Experience Can Boost Your Hiring Potential

Just highlighting is enough…

However, it is important to highlight these types of activities in the right way. Relying on it too heavily may indicate that you lack other important skills and qualifications. This section of your resume should enhance and support the other information rather than playing a starring role. 

When to Include Volunteer Experience on Your Resume?

It is a good idea to edit your resume so that it is as sleek as possible. You need to make sure that all the included information is relevant and boosts your chances of employment. Here are some times when including this can be beneficial. 

When to Include Volunteer Experience on Your Resume

You have little or no work experience

Trying to fill up your resume and make yourself look valuable can be difficult without work experience. Fortunately, you can gain the necessary skills for your future job through volunteering. When including these types of activities, make sure you highlight the transferrable skills you gained. 

You are changing careers

You may find that a lot of the work experience you gained isn’t relatable to your future position. In this case, you can highlight the transferrable skills you gained through volunteering. This helps to show why you want to change career paths and can help to give you the edge. 

You have career gaps in your resume

It is always a good idea to try and explain any employment gaps and give them a positive spin. Volunteering is a good way to show that you were doing something valuable. Employers appreciate people who are proactive and use their time wisely rather than simply sitting at home. 

You are applying to work at a non-profit organization

Employers in the non-profit sector want to see that applicants are passionate about their causes. Volunteering shows that you are willing to devote your time to a good cause and are generous. Any experience you have working with your local community is sure to be valuable and worth highlighting. 

Types of Volunteering Activities to Include

Not all types of volunteer work should be included on your resume. It is important to consider the activities carefully and find connections to the role you’re applying for. Here are some examples of activities to include and how they highlight valuable skills. 

Types of Volunteering Activitie to Include

Community Fundraising 

This shows that you have strong organizational and communication skills. It also demonstrates that you have the ability to manage budgets. 

Volunteer Nurse

Including this activity shows that you have basic healthcare skills. This is particularly important if you are applying for a role in the healthcare industry. In this case, feel free to go into detail about the activities you performed and the skills you gained.

Care Worker

While rewarding, volunteering as a care worker can also be very challenging. You often see people when they are at their worst and have to put their needs first. This allows you to highlight your empathy, emotional intelligence, and patience. 

Pro Bono Work 

This is any professional work that you provide to an organization free of charge. This includes redesigning a website for a charity or helping to organize an event. This highlights the fact that your professional skills are valuable and highly sought after. 

Soup Kitchen Staff

This shows that you have the ability to work as part of a team to accomplish a common goal. Soup kitchens are usually very busy environments. This also shows that you can work well under pressure. 

Blood Drive Organizer

This is another activity that perfectly highlights your organizational skills. It also shows that you have compassion and the ability to put other people first. This is likely to be valuable if you are applying for a role in the healthcare industry. 

English as a Second Language Teacher

Teaching requires a specific set of transferrable skills that can be valuable in a range of industries. This shows that you are able to communicate clearly. It also demonstrates your ability to interact with people from different cultures. 

How To List Volunteer Experience On A Resume?

It is best to set aside a separate section for these types of activities. The section should be added after your work experience and education sections. You need to keep the descriptions brief so that they don’t take up too much space. 

You should start by giving the name of the role and the organization. Next, provide the dates or the volunteer experience. Finally, you should briefly explain the tasks you completed, the skills you gained, and any major accomplishments. 

How To List Volunteer Experience On A Resume

Keep it relative…

When reading this section, it should be clear to employers how it adds value. If you have a lot of volunteer experience, list it in chronological order. Only include activities that have a positive impact and strengthen your chances of getting hired. 

Tips For Listing Your Volunteer Experience

Once you have decided what you want to include, take the time to write a brief description. You then need to edit it to a concise and impactful paragraph. Here are some ways to make sure that this section is as compelling as possible. 

Tailor your application to the job

You should adapt your resume slightly each time you apply for a different job. Take the time to read the job description a few times to determine what makes you a valuable candidate. Each application you send out needs to be personalized and present you as the strongest candidate. 

Align your values with the company

It is important to take the time to find out as much about the company as possible. This includes the company’s core values and any charity work it takes part in. You can then connect your volunteering activities with this charity work. Taking the time to do this shows that you would be a good fit for the company. 

Include keywords from the job posting

Pay close attention to the skills that are mentioned in the job description. This is a good guide to the skills you need to reflect in your resume. When describing your volunteering activities, connect the skills you gained to make your value clear. 

Only include volunteer work when necessary

Everything you add to your resume should strengthen it and increase your chances of employment. However, trying to connect volunteering in an animal shelter to working in a legal firm can be next to impossible. If your resume is already packed with accomplishments, it is better to skip this section. 

When You Shouldn’t List Volunteer Work?

In some cases, including volunteer work can actually detract from your resume. It can be a real issue if your extracurricular activities look more interesting than your actual paid work. Employers may get the impression that you are more committed to volunteering than taking on a paid role.

If you already have a lot of work experience, consider reducing your volunteer experience to a footnote. You can add it to the end of your resume, along with your hobbies and interests. This will still give you something interesting to talk about in the interview without putting too much focus on it.

When You Shouldn’t List Volunteer Work

How long ago did you volunteer?

It is also worth considering how long you spent volunteering and when it took place. If you haven’t volunteered for several years, it may no longer be relevant. It is better to focus on activities that are directly connected to your current and future accomplishments.

Let’s Help You Perfect Your Resume!

Make sure you land your dream job with an immaculate resume by checking out our invaluable guides such as Does A Resume Need An Objective, the Best Resume Format Guide, or How To Show A Promotion On Your Resume, as well as How Many Years You Should Go Back On A Resume and my Best Opening Statement Examples For Resumes.

Furthermore, we’ve also covered How Long Should A Resume Be, the difference between a CV vs Resume, how to list Job Titles On Resume, the Most Important Skills To Put On A Resume, and what Achievements To List On Your Resume in 2023.

Lastly, find out more about How To List Education On A Resume, or perhaps you need to get a better insight with our Motivation Letter Writing Guide, along with How To Address A Cover Letter, what Hobbies and Interests To Put On Resume, and How To List References On A Resume.

Final Thoughts

When a job is advertised, hiring managers usually receive a large stack of applications. Many candidates are likely to have similar skills and work experience, making them fade into the background. Including volunteering activities can be a good way to give employers an insight into your personality.

Activities that you chose to take part in provide an indication of the things you are passionate about. You can use them to highlight your specialist skills and use it to break the ice in interviews. However, you should always try to connect them to the role you are applying for in some way.

Good Luck, and I hope you get the job!

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About Carmen Smith

Carmen grew up in San Diago but now lives in Boston. She loves traveling, experiencing other cultures, and basically exploring the world, be country at a time.

Her other passion is helping people find the perfect career. We spend 33% of our working lives at work, so it's ridiculous that many people do jobs that they do not enjoy. Carmen wants to change this and thinks that anyone who isn't happy in their employment should keep looking until they find something that they really enjoy. 

She firmly believes that "Everyone's perfect job is out there; it's just a case of continually looking until you find it."

Carmen lives with her husband Johnny, a keen birder who also loves to travel. He finds birds while Carmen makes plans for where they will be eating next...

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