If you do not have much on-the-job experience, volunteer activities can be a gold mine for a great resume. For seasoned professionals, listing volunteer work demonstrates valuable personal characteristics and a commitment to community. For recent graduates or people changing careers, volunteer work can form an important part of your qualifications. Whatever your volunteer work has been, you can turn it into valuable experience on your resume.
If you have performed volunteer work that is relevant to your job target, you should list volunteer experience in a resume in the same way you would list any paid work experience.
Advice for Seasoned Professionals
Volunteer work demonstrates initiative, commitment, perseverance, and other personal characteristics and skills that potential employers might find valuable. If you are listing volunteer work to demonstrate personal characteristics or a commitment to community, briefly mention the professional or community organizations where you have volunteered, any offices or committee memberships you have held, and any honors or commendations you have received in relation to your work. This information is typically included at the end of your resume.
Advice for Recent Graduates of Career Changers
If you are a recent graduate or are changing careers and your volunteer work demonstrates valuable skills, abilities, and qualifications that are not communicated through your work experience, then list these skills and abilities in the appropriate Accomplishments, Capabilities, or Skills sections. Additionally, if you have worked with an organization for a long period of time, consider listing this volunteer experience as you would any other organization in an Experience or Employment History section. Remember, non-paid experience is equally as valuable as paid experience.
Questions & Answers – Volunteer Experience
Should I list volunteer work from religious, political, or ethnically specific organizations?
Ask yourself this question, “Is this information guaranteed to create a positive impression?” Political, religious, or ethnic issues should usually be avoided during the hiring process. If you are confident that listing volunteer work of this nature will highlight a positive quality and not run the risk of alienating a prospective employer, include this information in your resume.
Is there a time limit on the volunteer work I list?
The purpose of listing volunteer work is to demonstrate important personal characteristics that support your qualifications for the position. The time limit for most items on a resume is usually 10 to 15 years.
Should I include dates and locations of volunteer work?
If your involvement with the organization was extended over a long period of time, it may be valuable to include the dates you were actively involved. However, if your involvement was minimal, then you will probably want to leave the dates out of this section of your resume.
Examples – Volunteer Experience
Active 10-year member of the Volunteer Fire Department for Craymore, PA. Member of the Association of Fire Fighters of America, served as public relations chair for Fire Fighters of America for two years.
Vice-President of local chapter of the League of Women Voters and member of Dallas Women in Business, which sponsors local food and clothing drives for area charities.
2001-2002 – Meredith Area Chamber of Commerce
2000 – President, Meredith Women’s Golf Club
1999 – Public Relations Chair, Art and Crafts of Meredith
1998 – American Humane Society
ADDITIONAL VOLUNTEER WORK
United Way Chairperson
Member Big Sisters of America
Dallas area food bank drive
Volunteer driver, Dallas Senior Citizens