Question: How Can I Properly Display Volunteer Work on My Resume?

by Susan Mullin

group of hands in before putting Volunteer Work on Resume

When you’re looking for a job, listing volunteer work on your resume can be a wise move. 82 percent of interviewers prefer candidates with volunteer experience, particularly when seeking out soft skills like leadership abilities.

Luckily, including information about your volunteer work doesn’t have to be a challenge. Whether you are looking for digital strategy, project management or marketing jobs in DC, the principles are the same. Here’s how to start.

If your volunteer work provided you with skills that directly relate to your target role, then list that information on your resume as you would any other employment. Include the name of the organization, your functional title and any accomplishments that highlight your competencies. Quantify the information whenever possible.

You do want to note it was volunteer work. It helps ensure the hiring manager understands the nature of the position. That said, volunteer work isn’t any less valuable than paid labor. Treat it as you would any other position.

Adding Unrelated Volunteer Work

If your volunteer work experience isn’t related to your target job, be selective. You might want to pick and choose what you include on your resume if you list any information at all.

In some cases, adding details about a volunteer position can help fill a gap in your employment history. This is generally beneficial. However, if you don’t have a gap, and you didn’t use any relevant skills, you may want to skip it. That is unless your work history is somewhat sparse. For example, a recent college graduate may wish to include their volunteer experiences to fill out their resume. A seasoned professional with substantial history, on the other hand, might not need to add the information.

Alternatively, you can add a separate category to list your unrelated volunteer work. Add a heading like “Volunteer Work” or “Community Service.” Then, include basic information about the experience, including the name of the organization, functional title and an accomplishment or two.

However, any volunteer work with a potentially divisive organization might need to be bypassed. The same can be said for experiences that may reference a protected status. For example, working with a religious organization may indicate your preferences. If so, you need to decide if you want to disclose that.

So what?

Ultimately, listing your volunteer work on your resume can be a wise move. This is especially true if you used relevant skills or need to fill a gap in your work history. However, not every volunteer position is going to be relevant or helpful. Thus, consider whether listing the information is likely to help your chances of getting the job before you include it.

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Posted in , Job Search Tips, Resume Tips