Volunteer work is often just as valuable and important for your career as paid work. Listing volunteer work on your resume can demonstrate to potential employers that you are community minded, experienced in working with people from diverse backgrounds, and have a range of transferable skills. A common question that volunteers ask is how they can list volunteer work on their resume.
This article will explain why you should list volunteer work on your resume, offer some tips on how to do so, and provide practical examples on how to do it.
Why should you list volunteer work on your resume?
It is relevant to the position you are applying for
One of the many benefits of volunteer work is skills development. The skills developed when volunteering are often transferable into paid employment.
A skill commonly listed on job descriptions as a requirement of the position is teamwork. As a job seeker, you will be able to draw on your volunteer work to demonstrate your experience in working with different types of teams. Even if you have successfully worked in teams in paid employment, being able to provide more than one example will be of benefit when your application is being reviewed, or you are being interviewed. So, if your volunteer work has equipped you with skills that are relevant to positions you are applying for, include it on your resume.
You don’t have other work experience
Often high school, college and university graduates lack paid work experience to list on their resume as they have been studying instead of working. Listing volunteer work on your resume is a great way to show that you have been involved in contributing to the goals and operations of an organization. This can help reassure hiring managers that you have attributes they value in employees, such as being punctual and reliable.
You are changing careers and don’t have experience in the new field
If you are planning on changing careers but don’t have paid work experience in the new field, volunteering for an organization in that field gives you the opportunity to provide the recruiter or hiring manager with examples of relevant experience. Let’s say that your career to date has been in the field of telecommunications, but your dream job is working in the sports industry. By engaging in volunteer work related to sport, you will be able to demonstrate that you have experience in the industry.
You have a gap in employment
Job seekers can sometimes find they have a gap in their resume when they did not work for some time. This may be because they had finished studying and were job seeking, or they took some time off to travel abroad. If you wish to avoid this gap on your resume, you could undertake some volunteer work during the time you are not working. If you were travelling abroad for a year, you might like to join some overseas volunteering programs. This would provide you with work experience to list on your resume while you were between paid jobs.
Highlight transferable skills not evident from your paid employment
The skills developed from volunteering can be used to demonstrate key skills that you have that are not evident from your previous paid employment. You may be an accountant in your paid employment and spend your days working with numbers, but you may also be good at writing. Accountants rarely get the opportunity to demonstrate their writing skills. If one of your tasks in volunteer work is writing donation thank you letters, you could use this as an example to highlight a skill that isn’t apparent from your paid work as an accountant.
Listing volunteer work on your resume: Do’s and don’ts
- Include the volunteer work if highlights transferable skills, is relevant to the job you are applying for, or you have little other paid work experience to list
- Include the name of the volunteer organization
- Include the dates you worked at the organization
- Highlight your accomplishments in the role
- Include the volunteer work if the company you are applying to offers corporate volunteering or is a charity, NGO or non-profit
- Include the volunteer position if it is neither recent nor relevant
- Include volunteer work if you are short on space and the work isn’t relevant (as you should always prioritize relevant experience)
Examples of how to list volunteer work on resume
Wondering how you add volunteer work on a resume? We’ve included a few examples below as a guide.
Let’s say you’re applying for a job in a university alumni office, without any experience working at a university. However, you do have years of experience writing donation request letters and grant applications in your volunteer role at a non-profit. Here is how you could list this volunteer experience on your resume:
We Help Organization
April 2016 – November 2021
- Volunteer experience as a fundraising officer for the organization. Was responsible for relationship building with past donors and applying for government grants.
- Wrote nine successful grant applications worth $267,000.
- Maintained the database of donors ensuring contact was made with donors four times a year. This helped them feel connected to the organization and its activities, encouraging them to donate again.
If you have volunteer experience that is recent but not relevant to the job you are applying for, you could follow this example to list the work on your resume:
Paws Dog Charity
January 2019 – May 2021
- Trained new volunteers
- Helped prepare food and feed the animals
- Cleaned out animal cages
When you do not have any paid work experience to list on your resume, you can follow this example about environment volunteering for an idea on how to list volunteer experience on your resume.
University Student Union
August 2019 – June 2022
- Led the university beach clean-up effort. This involved mobilising volunteers, rostering, and post-event volunteer engagement. The event resulted in 127 bags of garbage being removed from three local beaches in one weekend.
- Participated in a tree planting day. I worked in a team of five to plant 20 trees around the university. This resulted in a greener campus with more shade and wildlife.
Tips for including volunteer work on your resume
- Prioritize listing achievements over responsibilities. Your achievements are your point of difference. Recruiters see hundreds of resumes that list the responsibilities of a data entry officer. By highlighting what you achieved as a data entry officer, your application will stand out from the pack.
- When the volunteer work is relevant to the job you are applying for, list it in the work experience section of your resume.
- If the volunteer work is not relevant to the job, include it as a separate section titled Volunteer Work or Volunteering Experience.
Working as a volunteer provides a great opportunity to develop relevant skills for paid employment. Listing volunteer work on your resume is an effective way to demonstrate to potential employers that you have skills, knowledge and experience that are relevant to the job they are recruiting for. Whether you are a student with little to no paid work experience, a mid-career employee looking to change career path, or somebody needing to fill a gap on your resume, including volunteer experience can elevate your resume and put you in the front running for the job.
Rosterfy exists to connect communities to events and causes they are passionate about through volunteer and paid workforce management technology. Our proven end to end technology allows charities, events and organizations to recruit, register, screen, train, manage and report with ease, replacing manual processes with automations to better engage and retain your volunteers and paid staff.
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