Don’t shortchange your resume by neglecting volunteer work!

gift present giveTake credit for all of your life accomplishments. Just because you were not paid, do not relegate your volunteer experience to the end of your resume.

A potential employer doesn’t care whether any of your experience allowed you to be paid very well, very poorly or not at all. They care about, “What’s in it for me? How will this help MY business?” That is the unspoken question your resume must answer. Follow 3 principles:


Include volunteer experience on your resume where it provides a specific example of a skill you have, or a wonderful personal trait such as creativity or team leadership, when those traits are valued in the position you are seeking.


Instead of listing:

  • Little League Coach
  • PTA member

Try this:

  • Coached Little League team to its first winning season in 6 years through improved morale, an added sense of fun, and enhanced skills
  • Spearheaded quarterly PTA Bake Sale which raised funds for desperately needed new band uniforms


Consider folding your volunteer experience into the resume body.  Place it before/after/alongside paid work experience. Title the section “PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE,” or “RELEVANT EXPERIENCE” or “SELECTED ACCOMPLISHMENTS”  instead of “Work Experience” or “Work History.”

Taking all the credit is up to you–if a situation was relevant to your ability to contribute to a new organization, you have to be the one to list the facts.

5 More Resume Myths: Exposed!

different unique alone“Resumes should…” When sentences begin with rules about resumes, beware.  Many of these rules are outdated, not true, or simply could harm your chances of getting the job you want.

Be aware of the types of myths that are out there and make your own informed decision about how to craft and use this important marketing and job-hunting piece. We covered the first 5 Resume Myths: Exposed, here’s another 5 resume myths to ponder as you revise your document.

Myth #6: It is important to have your resume look like all other resumes. There is tremendous pressure to conform when it comes to resume writing. Imagine what employers go through at job fairs.  For 4-8 hours all they see is gray and black suits, white shirts, conservative ties. By the end of the day, individuals have blurred into a faceless mass. It’s the same with resumes. After seeing the 500th chronological resume in 10 point Times New Roman font that says “seeking an upwardly mobile position in a stable, growing company where my skills will be utilized,” a reader’s eyes begin to glaze over. Think back to why you’ve beaten others to win previous jobs.  Was it because you were the same as everyone else? No, it was because you were different somehow.  Give your resume the same chance. Be different (not crazy, different). Try a new font, a new layout, a new format, quotes from performance reviews, graphics or a border.

Myth #7: You must have a resume to get a job. Many job seekers have a tendency to depend too much on their resume. Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute, contends that you don’t need a resume to get a job. Instead, you should consider it a leave-behind document. If you plan to find a job via the mail, then you do need a resume.  However, if you are willing to find a job the old-fashioned way: via  your contacts, by getting out in the community, by building relationships and getting referrals to people who have the power to hire you, you will relinquish your dependence and focus on a resume.

Myth #8: A resume and a C.V. are the same thing. Many Americans use the term C.V. to make them sound more important.  However, used incorrectly, it often has the opposite effect!  A resume and a C.V. are different documents, and are used in different situations. C.V., curriculum vitae, means “the course of one’s life.” In the United States a C.V. is used in academic and scientific fields, never in business.  However, in European countries it is used in business instead of a resume.  This sometimes causes confusion, when someone with European connections refers to C.V. in a business sense. An academic C.V. usually list all the publications, articles, books, courses, and conferences authored by the job candidate.  They are usually straightforward and focused on the life’s work in one specific field.

Myth #9: An objective statement or summary is not necessary—just list the facts. If you do not clearly focus and define what you do for timer kitchen alarm bellthe employer, you are asking them to do “work” to interpret the resume. It’s not only rude, it is unwise. With only 8-15 seconds to read and make a decision on a resume, if there is any ambiguity, you lose. Resumes are often reviewed by a low-level person in the organization whose responsibility is to throw most of the resumes away and find just a few to forward on. Chances are, if your resume is not specific, the one right behind it might be. Also, without an opening objective statement, profile or summary the reader will assume that you want another job just like or one level above your last job.

Myth #10: Giving your resume to as many people as possible is an effective way to get a job. Right idea, wrong execution.  The best way to find a job is through other people.  However, your method needs to be slightly different. Realize that while others do want to help, sometimes their good intentions fall flat. In other words, your resume ends up in the drawer, or buried somewhere under their incomplete expense reports. In the job hunting game, you must always keep control and take the responsibility for where your resume needs to go. Enlist others to help you differently. Ask for specific help, “Do you know anyone who works in Public Relations?”  Once you have created a target, get names and contacts, and get permission to use your contact’s name.  Then draft a letter to the contact, explaining how you got their name, enclosing your resume and telling them you will follow up with a phone call. It’s more work, but is the only way to make sure it gets done.

One last myth: Write your resume yourself! Much like an accountant specializes in financial data, a certified professional resume writer is trained and experienced in the “language” of resume writing. From format, word choice, layout, positioning, strategy, to overcoming problems and challenges that each client presents, a resume writer applies their skills to your unique situation. Most workers are never trained or study “how” to write a resume; in fact, creating a marketing document may be something you’ve never learned. It becomes even tougher when the subject of the document is YOU and the marketing target is a new and better job. Matching these two components in a concise and impactful document is like walking along a tightrope between your past and your future. Look into getting assistance from a professional. It takes time to craft the resume. It takes trust and openness. It takes lots of questioning and clarification. It takes lots of rewriting and editing. Together we can present a proposal for that job and get you the interview you want!

Professional resume writer resources:

The National Resume Writer’s Association (NRWA) Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW)

5 Resume Myths: Exposed!

b-happinessjpg18“Resumes should…” When sentences begin with rules about resumes, beware.  Many of these rules are outdated, not true, or simply could harm your chances of getting the job you want. 

Be aware of the types of myths that are out there and make your own informed decision about how to craft and use this important marketing and job-hunting piece.

Myth #1: Your resume must only be one page in length.

Resumes continue to evolve in style, content, layout and focus. Your father’s resume from the 70’s is not the resume you should be presenting today. When someone tells you that your resume must be one page, ask them “Why?” They will most likely reply that most employers won’t read more than one page. Well, it is true that employers don’t read resumes—they SKIM them. And they are skimming them looking for your accomplishments that match up with the needs of the open position.  By eliminating key accomplishments you can be certain they cannot match you with their needs. 

Additionally, the “one page only” rule began in the 60’s and 70’s when employees only needed one page. Think of all that has changed: people now change jobs 5-7 times, versus maybe once in a lifetime.  We’ve added email addresses, cell phones, graduate schooling, multiple continuing education, certification and training classes; volunteer and leadership positions in many volunteer, professional and civic organizations.  How could anyone cram all that into a meaningful one page?

Myth #2: If you do not know what you want, create a general resume so you can be open to lots of different types of jobs.

Would you hire a generalist as your hair stylist?  Someone who has had four different careers, one of which was a short stint in hair styling?  Or, would you rather hire someone who presents herself as a hair stylist, conveys her passion for her field and is very focused in her goals?  You would probably prefer to hire the professional rather than the dabbler.

A general resume is just that, “general”. It focuses on things you have done in your career that YOU think are important.  You’ve missed the point. Resumes answer the question of whether you have unique skills for a specific position.  By trying to do all things for all people, general resumes end up not showing expertise in anything. If you do not have a specific job and/or industry target, then you are not ready to write a resume.

Myth #3: You must use a reverse-chronological resume that lists your job history.

A reverse-chronological resume details your work history beginning with your most recent job and going backward to your first.  You might be told to use this format (especially by a recruiter or staffing agency) because it is “easier” for the reader. It is easier: it points out any gaps in your history, if you jump jobs a lot, if you have gotten promotions in your line of work, what kind of work you have the most experience in, and what industries you know. 

However, all of that may not benefit YOU if you have any of the resume issues, problems or challenges listed above.  Since a resume tells a story, the reader may assume that you have no focus or very little experience in the job you are seek.

For example, Susan had worked in marketing, as an administrative secretary, had taken time off to raise her daughter, and completed several volunteer leadership positions. She wanted a job in training.  A reverse-chronological resume will likely not get her the job she wants. 

Instead, she can go through her different experiences and pull out the ones that show she has experience in training: creating presentations, presentations, dealing with customers, public speaking, and scheduling and planning large meetings. These targeted experiences should be showcased in the beginning of the resume, in what is called a “Functional” format.

Myth #4: Employers actually read the resumes they receive.istockphoto

After all the hard work you put into your resume, you’d like to think that everyone gives your resume the same love and care you gave it.  However, the reality is quite different.

A study was done in H.R. offices where the incoming resumes were counted, and the reviewing time clocked. The result was that employers only give your resume between 8 and 15 seconds. They don’t read it, they SCAN it.  And so your resume should be formatted and written to tell them what they need to know. No more. No less.

Myth #5: My friend/cousin/neighbor/boss told me…

It is natural to look to others for advice. Be careful though. It is very easy to give advice to others on career issues—many people believe they are qualified to give this advice. Do they know your field intimately? Do they have top-notch business writing skills? Have they done any creative layout and publishing? Have they reviewed hundreds of resumes in a hiring capacity? Can they tell you which keywords are important for your field? 

If not, consider taking their advice, mulling it over, and making the final decision yourself.  For example, while your son may be a chess player, unless you are highly skilled in the game, your well-meaning advice might actually be harmful to his game!

Remember: the only point of the resume is really to showcase your unique skills and accomplishments to the employer whose needs match watch you offer. There really isn’t a Universal Law passed by Congress that specifies a resume format!