You do what in your spare time? More work? But you don’t have to. Say what? You like to do it anyway? And for free?

That would raise anyone’s eyebrows, and for all kinds of positive reasons! It would also make people think that you’re pretty cool.

What people, you ask? Your future employer, for instance. That is, if you mention your volunteering activities on your resume.

But as with most things, that’s easier said than done. This guide should help you do it well so that you can easily talk about it once you get invited to a job interview.

This guide will answer these pressing questions:

  • What is the resume volunteer experience section?
  • Why should you list your volunteer experience on your resume?
  • Where should you put your volunteer experience section on a resume?
  • How to write one if you’re a student or fresh graduate?
  • …as an experienced professional?
  • Is that all?

Too long, don't wanna read? 60s Video Guide

What is the resume volunteer experience section?

The volunteer experience section is the place on your resume where you mention any kind of work you do voluntarily and for free.

And not only is your volunteering good for your community, it also has the potential to benefit your career. It’s an excellent way to showcase your key skills and motivation.

However, the way you include it in your resume very much depends on where you are in your career.

Why should you list volunteer experience on your resume?

It’s as valuable as paid work. About 41 % of hiring managers consider volunteer work as valuable as paid work when evaluating candidates, (according to a survey conducted by LinkedIn). About 20 % of hiring managers in the U.S. hired a candidate based on their volunteer experience.

It speaks volumes about your character. In addition to skills particular to every position, volunteer experience always shows an employer that you’re willing to get involved in your community, take initiative, and make things happen. Volunteering shows qualities that are highly sought after in every industry. It would be a terrible mistake to pass on such opportunity.

Where should you put your volunteer experience on a resume?

Are you a student or fresh graduate? who lacks work experience, you should treat your volunteer experience as regular work experience. Feel free to include it all under work experience section.

Are you an experienced professional?Then you should create a separate section dedicated exclusively to your volunteer work. BUT! If you had a volunteer job that’s highly relevant to the job you’re applying fo, feel free to mention it as one of the jobs in your work experience section.

How to list volunteer experience if you’re a student or a fresh graduate?

Treat it like your work experience. Most recruiters see volunteer experience similarly to paid work experience. In other words, just because you didn’t get paid, it doesn’t mean you didn’t do a good job.

Go ahead and list your volunteer roles as you would full-time paid jobs. Detail the time you volunteered, relevant tasks you undertook and the skills you gained through the experience.

Volunteer jobs belong in your resume. They indicate that building healthy relationships with your community and environment is your priority.

Whether it’s service to the poor in your neighborhood or humanitarian work for an NGO, these activities show you’ve developed a much broader vision of your life and work.

But be specific rather than vague. Don’t only list your responsibilities, but also mention your accomplishments. Instead of writing “Volunteered for a university magazine”, write “Wrote 28 articles for a university magazine”. See the difference?

How to list volunteer experience if you’re a seasoned professional?

Volunteering activities are a great addition to your resume even if you are a seasoned professional. Especially when they shaped your personality and personal ethics.

Some may claim that you should list your volunteer experience only if it’s relevant to the job for which you’re applying. That would be a mistake.

Volunteer work teaches you things that hiring managers love to see in any candidate. These include interpersonal skills, teamwork, dependability, customer service, self-motivation and much more.

If a volunteer experience is relevant to the job you’re applying for, include it in the work experience section.

If it’s not that relevant, create a separate section for your volunteering activities.

Either way, be specific and list your key achievements in the same way you do with your work experience. For instance, if you volunteer as a Blood Program Officer, instead of writing “Administration and control of the blood bank”, write “Administered 7 blood drives with 350+ donors for the Red Cross and Armed Services Blood Programs.”

 

Pablo’s two cents: Volunteer work resume advice

  • Relate it to your skills. If you gained or improved some skills through your volunteer work, include these in the description. Pay attention especially to those skills that match the job description.
  • Use action verbs. Make your volunteer section even more powerful and appealing. This helps the hiring manager understand your skillset and see you as a dedicated member of the team.
  • Stay positive. Focus on how you’re helping the community rather than the negative aspects that you’d like to change.