Tips for Listing Volunteer Work on Resume (With Examples)
Updated July 6, 2023
Resumes play an essential role in convincing employers you are the right candidate for a job position. The resume includes information about your career experience, education, and skillset. A great section to add to your resume is a volunteer work section, which should advance you in the hiring process, regardless of whether you have professional experience or not. In this article, we discuss the importance of listing volunteer work on your resume and how to highlight this experience in your job search.
Benefits of listing volunteer work on your resume
Here are the benefits of having volunteer work on your resume:
Listing volunteer work on a resume is beneficial when applying for jobs from employers who value volunteer work.
You can use volunteer work to provide information regarding gaps in your work history due to pursuing volunteer work.
Volunteer work can help you gain an advantage, especially when there is little professional experience, especially for recent graduates and high school graduates.
Doing volunteer work requires skills known by hiring managers and can put you ahead of the other resumes.
How to write your resume
The following are the essential steps of writing a resume:
Start with the name and contact information: Ensure you use a professional email address to keep things official and also display professionalism. Recruiters use this information to contact you if they want to invite you for an interview.
Write a resume profile: This is a summary of your professional experience, skills, and achievements. It Is a quick introduction to catch the hiring manager's eye.
Include professional experience: Use the job description as a guide to writing this section while noting your impact on these organizations using numbers, especially percentages, whenever possible.
Add education details: Add information concerning your study, certifications, and school coursework.
List skills: Include information concerning skills relevant to the job opening or industry.
Optional sections and resume formats
You may include the following sections as a plus: Volunteering, citizen/student involvement achievements, hobbies, and qualities. There are several resume formats you can use to present information to employers. Depending on your working background, use one of the following relevant resume formats:
Chronological resume: Also known as "reverse-chronological" and lists your professional experience from the most to least recent. Best used by those with a consistent work history and increasing job levels over time. Best for candidates with rich, consistent professional experience.
Functional resume: Primarily showcases a candidate's skills. Use if you have several gaps or changes in your career.
Combined format: Emphasizes both skills and accomplishments and recent work history.
How to list volunteer work on your resume
Follow these three steps to list volunteer work on your resume:
1. Include examples of volunteer work in your professional experience section
One way to show your volunteer work is to list it as part of your professional experience. This, however, is dependent on how much experience you have. If your professional experience is extensive, you can list three to four past volunteer jobs related to the job opening. If little or no professional expertise is available, add as much relative volunteer history as possible to the professional background section.
The format you can use to list volunteer work is the same as the one used for previously held jobs. The difference is that you should identify your role as "volunteer" along with any additional titles held, like administration or procurement positions. For example:
Macdonald Youth Services, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Volunteer family counsellor, March 2020–Present
Organized and managed family group meetings
Trained new volunteer youths for social work
Counselled 50+ youths on leadership skills
2. Connect your volunteer experiences with your skills
As you list volunteer work, it is helpful to add the skills you gained or improved during that work. It is essential to list the skills relevant to the job you are applying for consideration. Volunteer work helps most people gain the following skills:
Leadership skills by acting as a leader in the volunteer program or a group coordinator for a specific project area
Communication skills while interacting with the different members of the volunteer group
Interpersonal skills while interacting with the people being helped by the volunteer work
Organizational skills while running the activities at the volunteer work
Technical skills such as teaching, bilingualism, statistical analysis, and database management
3. Use a separate section at the end of your resume for extra and unrelated volunteer experiences
Suppose some of your volunteer work is not related to the industry you're entering for the first time. In that case, it is helpful to dedicate a separate section at the end of your resume to define different and extra volunteer work history to help set you apart from other candidates.
For example, if you know from your research the hiring company values workers active in the social justice scene, it might be helpful for them to recognize your work with a specific volunteer organization or program that champions social justice. Another example is stating that you started volunteering at a particular project and realized the need for a particular career in the community, which led you to decide on your career path.
Tips on listing unrelated volunteer experiences
The best way to represent this helpful information is to create a new section at the end of your resume and include your volunteer experiences. The format to use may be similar to the one used for your professional experience section or, for space concerns, a shortened version.
The following are examples of shortened volunteer experience lists for the different volunteer work section:
Post Carbon Institute Vancouver, BC, public relations manager, May 2016- Jan. 2018 | HackerNest Toronto, ON, event coordinator Feb. 2018- Dec. 2019 | Big Brothers and Big Sisters Montreal, QC, community-based mentor, May 2020-present
Meals on Wheels, kitchen meal courier, Vancouver, BC, 2010-2011, acquired nutritional skills
Simply United Together Toronto Canada Chapter, fundraising officer, 2012-2016, gained accounting and communication skills
Bénévole à la livraison de livres - book delivery volunteer, Montreal, Quebec, 2017-2019, developed organizational and time management skills
Tips for listing volunteer work on your resume
Follow these four tips to list all volunteer work in your resume:
Update your resume to match each job application
Updating your resume is vital to structure your resume for different job descriptions and openings. Include skills, characters, and qualifications required by the employer. Research the company or organization to know more about its culture and causes, then use your pool of volunteer experience to show you are an excellent fit for the job position.
Include keywords from the job posting
Understanding the type of candidate required for a job helps inform you of how to include a volunteer work section and how to format it. Read the job description carefully to find what the ideal candidate needs to succeed. Search for specific keywords to describe your qualifications, experience, and skills the employer is looking for.
For example, suppose the employer expresses interest in candidates with solid time management skills. In that case, you might take a moment to reflect on specific tasks during volunteer work in which you successfully exhibited this quality. You should also use this information when writing your skills and professional experience sections and during the job interview.
Only include volunteer work when needed
Volunteer experience is of great help to those who fall short of the required professional experience. Listing volunteer work on your resume is one way to highlight skills and experience without professional history. However, avoid including volunteer work as part of your resume if you have an extensive professional work history. If you have work experience and are applying for a non-profit organization, you can list volunteer experience if it's relevant to that role.
Avoid wordy descriptions of volunteer work. Go straight to the point and briefly explain your work and the skills you developed from the volunteer work relevant to the job you are interested in applying for consideration.
Related: What is the Right Resume Length?
Volunteer work on resume example
Here is an example of a resume that includes both related and unrelated volunteer work:
Botrel, Montreal, Quebec • +1-514-555-1234
Detail-oriented IT professional with four years of experience as a platform support agent and IT support analyst. Skilled at operating a wide range of platforms. Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Advanced cloud computing with Oracle
Data analysis with OLAP
Machine learning and NLP
UX and UI development
Prudential consulting, IT manager
Worked directly with clients to troubleshoot IT databases
Handled multiple client contracts
Assisted management during negotiation
AI dreams, lead volunteer
June 2009—August 2010
Helped launch eight student tech startups
Helped manage program platform
Student magazine editor volunteer
Technician mentorship program
January 2004—January 2005
Volunteered as a mentor
Helped students gain basic IT skills
Taught and offered guidance to trainees on new computer programs
Centennial College, Toronto
August 2004—May 2008
Bachelor of information technology, GPA 3.67
University of Toronto
June 2010—April 2014
MSc. computer science
The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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