How Do You Put Volunteer Work on a Resume?
Fact: Employers love seeing that you've volunteered. This is how to highlight your experiece.
You may have altruistic reasons for volunteering, but giving your time has career-enhancing power, too. A hiring manager absolutely loves to see candidates who have volunteer work on a resume. A study from the Corporation for National and Community Service found that volunteers have a 27% higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than people who haven't volunteered.
Volunteering is a clear display of your desire to get involved and give back to the community. Plus, it shows you have initiative and enjoy trying new things. From that, employers can infer that you'd be the type of employee who is willing to help out and contribute to a greater good.
So how do you leverage these positive traits on your resume? The best way to format your volunteer work depends on your career level and track. Follow these tips:
Volunteering for new grads
Entry-level workers with minimal or no work experience should emphasize their volunteer work—even make volunteerism a central part of the resume. Note the way you learned to use your communication, leadership, and planning skills. Mention how the experience motivated you and helped you become more adaptable to new work environments.
You can incorporate volunteer work in the regular experience section if you have little or no paid work history. Treat the experience as if it were a paid job, but be sure to indicate your volunteer status in the description or next to your title. List the following:
- organization's name
- your functional title
- date range
Volunteering for career changers and workers reentering the workforce
Volunteering is one of the best ways to develop and showcase new career skills. Employers won't really care that you weren't paid; they'll be much more interested in the fact that you went out and acquired a new skill. It's a great way to set yourself up for a career change.
Again, remember to list this work as volunteerism and not paid employment. Your experience won't be minimized, and you'll be showing employers that you're not tricking them into thinking this was a job.
Volunteering for those on a steady career track
If you have an established career path, you don't need to include as many details about your volunteer work. Your professional work experience still takes center stage on your resume.
Just write the name of the organization and the dates you volunteered with them. If you've volunteered at a lot of places, choose the most recent ones to feature. You don't want volunteer work on a resume to overshadow your professional work experience.
Don't risk including too much information
If you've volunteered with organizations that would reveal information you wouldn't want a prospective employer to know, consider leaving them off your resume. For example, if you've volunteered with religious or political groups, consider listing the skills you amassed rather than highlighting the affiliations of the organizations.
Target the employer's philanthropic leanings
Spend some time researching prospective employers to discover how much emphasis they place on community and philanthropy. Modify your volunteer section to reflect the stance of the companies that interest you.
If you find out that a company to which you're applying champions a specific cause or organization—for example, Patagonia is very eco-conscious—be sure to mention any similar orgs you've volunteered with. This demonstrates that you're familiar with the issues and could be a solid cultural fit within the company.
Volunteer work on a resume can help you get noticed. So can Monster
Volunteer experience can enrich your resume and give you a leg up on the competition, regardless of what stage you're at in your career. Want to know some other ways you can give your resume a boost? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Think of it as Monster's way of giving back to you.