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:

1) TAKE THE RELEVANCY TEST

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.

2) DON’T JUST LIST IT: EXPLAIN IT!coach

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

3) POSITION IT CORRECTLY

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.

Comments

  1. Great ideas about including volunteer work in a resume! To me, as a hiring manager, I want to see what people’s true interests and skills are, and there is no better way than what they choose for volunteer work. Just choosing to volunteer and including it in their resume is a big plus with me! What a difference when you explain what you did rather then just listing experiences.

  2. I never thought about it expanding on my volunteer experiences. I’ve always just listed them. It does make sense to explain them. To me, what we spend our free time supporting speaks volumes about our character, work ethic, and who we really are. Thank you for the tip!

    • Job Search Trainer says:

      Glad I could help, love these little fixes that seem so obvious once you know them!