Handy tips on how to craft a great volunteer resume
According to Nonprofits Source, approximately 25% of adults in the United States volunteer their time, abilities and zest to make the world a better place.
If you have ever thought of joining an organization to change things for the better, you should certainly begin with crafting a captivating volunteer resume.
Whether you’ve decided to tutor, counsel, work in a refugee camp or build shelters for people in need, the most important factor to keep in mind is tailoring your CV to the respective volunteer opportunity.
Follow our handy volunteer resume tips and land the life-changing job you are seeking.
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1. Spruce up your volunteer resume format
Even if it looks like a marginal thing, your resume appearance matters. A great volume of candidates means plenty of resumes, and plenty of resumes mean less time for a recruiter to read all of them thoroughly.
And that’s when you may realize that before you get to offer your time and energy to a good cause, you will need to offer a well-organized, good-looking volunteer CV.
Make your resume easy to read and easy to navigate with the following tips:
- Use a clear header with your full name, email address, telephone number and social media links if they relate to the position in question.
- Employ a two-column layout if you are a seasoned volunteer and your resume contains a lot of experience. Try to maintain a low page count — no more than two pages.
- Stick to a resume-friendly font such as Garamond, Cambria, or Calibri.
- Use negative space between individual segments for better navigation.
- Make your headings big enough.
Choose your preferred template and make your resume shine.
2. Market your achievements and strengths in your volunteer professional summary
Your professional summary should definitely encapsulate your passion for helping the cause, relevant work experience, strengths, professional achievements and your exceptional volunteering skills.
Now imagine that this all should fit in 3-5 lines. Challenging? Maybe, but it’s nothing a candidate like you wouldn’t manage.
Follow these simple tips, and leave the other applicants standing.
- Craft your professional summary just after you have written the rest of your resume.
- Focus on your achievements and results rather than everyday responsibilities in your past roles.
- Mention numbers whenever you can — years of experience, how much money you’ve saved a company, amount you have collected during a fundraiser event, etc.
- Always tailor your professional profile to the respective job posting. How? Look for the most important keywords and incorporate them in your summary.
- Use impactful language.
- Foreground your exceptional volunteering skills.
Volunteer professional profile example
Dependable and highly accomplished fundraiser with 7 years of experience in raising funds for various charitable and nonprofit organizations. Adept at presenting an array of innovative fundraising ideas to a variety of donor audiences. Thanks to exceptional communication, time management and networking abilities, mentored a team of 19 volunteers in order to develop strategies to encourage new contributions. Secured funding and donations for 12 projects that included different activities for children, youth and adults.
3. Highlight your best soft and hard skills in your volunteer resume
As a volunteer, there is no doubt that you will need to be equipped with out-of-this-world empathy, resilience and professionalism.
There might be, however, many more challenging requirements for your character traits and abilities. In order to mention the relevant ones, always tailor your skill-set to a specific job posting. Look for the keywords in it, and list the matching skills at the top of your list.
The following volunteer competences might help you compile an effective skill-set for your resume.
The best soft skills for your volunteer CV
- Ability to working under pressure
- Effective communication (verbal and written)
- Outstanding organizational skills
- Active listening
- Time management
- Conflict resolution
- Exceptional customer service
Effective volunteer hard skills for your resume
- MS Office Suite
- In-depth knowledge of fundraising and resource mobilisation
- Inventory replenishment
- Preventive maintenance
- Animal care
- Administrative skills
- Volunteer management tool: VolunteerHub
4. Present your relevant volunteer work experience in the best light
You worked hard on your work experience section, and you diligently mentioned all your duties and responsibilities in each of your past roles. Yet, no organization has called you.
Why? Maybe exactly because of that. No recruiter wants to read large chunks of text filled with irrelevant information.
Remember that customizing your resume to the job posting you are interested in is the key to landing the job.
That’s why the following tips may save your work experience section from being ignored:
- Use a reverse-chronological order to list your work history, starting with the most recent position.
- Introduce the company name, location, your job title and dates.
- Focus on the requirements in the job posting, and use the right keywords from it. Include them in your section.
- Avoid naming your daily duties, and emphasize your accomplishments in the given role.
- Use numbers to highlight your achievements. Adding it all up will yet be another step to make them more tangible.
- Do not overwhelm the recruiter, and maintain the number of bullet points below 7.
- Remember to employ impactful language, and use such verbs as developed, secured, mentored, etc.
Volunteer work experience section example
People United Foundation, Kentucky, USA
2017 – 2021
- Developed marketing and investor materials for potential and existing investors, and identified and built relationships with prospective donors.
- Organized and attended 25+ conferences and events that offered opportunities to network in the global philanthropic communities.
- Recruited sponsors, participants, and volunteers for fundraising events.
- Mentored a team of 19 volunteers on developing strategies to encourage new contributions.
- Secured funding and donations for 12 projects that included different activities for children, youth and adults.
- Developed strategies that led to a 12% increase in contributions within 6 months.
5. Make your education section count
Whether you are required to have a background in formal education or not, always mention your highest completed level. If you are still studying, be transparent about it.
You can simply introduce your college name, degree and years in school, or you can spice your education section up, and present your relevant academic achievements or areas of interest. This extra piece of information may be enough to awe the recruiter.
Listing education in a volunteer resume
Mason University, Maysville, KY, USA
Bachelor of Science in Nonprofit Management
- GPA: 3.98 (Top 15% of the Program)
- Area of interest: Organizational Management
- Excelled in Cultural Engagement
6. Top additional sections to put on your volunteer CV
Thanks to relevant additional sections, you can certainly improve your resume score — especially if you lack relevant work experience, or your education section falls short.
Your learning and volunteering activities, certificates or language competences can make all the difference.
Select the sections that are most relevant to the job ad in question, and get ahead of the other candidates:
- Training Courses
- Volunteering Activities
- Extracurricular Activities
Listing extra sections in your volunteer CV
- English Tutor, EF Education, Suva, Fiji, May 2014 - February 2015
- Leadership and Management Certificate, The Leadership Institute, June 2016
- Italian — Fluent
- French — B2 Certificate
- Spanish— A2 Certificate