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How to show Volunteer Work Experience on a Resume

Heather French Henry couldn’t have been more correct when she said no one has made it through life without someone else’s help.

With such sage words, let’s begin directly with how to list volunteer work on a resume. While volunteer work is entirely different from having technical skills, it adds an element of humanity to your resume, which, believe it or not, is crucial in the 21st century.

Having received much from the community in both direct and indirect ways, there comes the point when you have to give back. Giving back in small ways (perhaps you taught the neighborhood kids their first programming language) or in big ways (you may have organized a drive to raise money for computer education) is only natural when you have received much more. 

No matter your approach, volunteering can make your resume glow, mostly if you use it to highlight the skills you picked up from the days spent volunteering. 

Jennie was out of a job for the latter period of 2019. She decided to volunteer at the local computer center to train children in their first programming language. 

At first, Jennie was a little hesitant. She wondered whether she would be a good fit for the kids. Her doubts, however, did not hinder her aim, and she quickly signed up to teach them. For a month, Jennie was challenged every single day with questions and new viewpoints. She had to handle a class of fifteen children. They needed a little discipline, a lot of love, and plenty of guidance with their first-ever programming language, Python. 

When the time came for Jennie to apply for a job, she wondered how to put volunteer work on her resume. She scoured the Internet on resources for how to add volunteer experience to her resume.

The skills of leadership, team spirit, guiding and training, which she had picked up were all placed on her resume. During interviews, panels would be rather impressed with how she dedicated her time to do something of community value. 

If you too want to know how to add volunteer work to your resume, read on!

When to Include Volunteering in your Resume Experience

If you are stuck wondering how to list volunteer experience on resume, the first step could be to ask yourself when to include the experience on your resume. You need to use your volunteer experience to highlight the skills that you picked up while at it.

These could be fundraising skills, or teaching skills, event planning skills, and problem-solving skills.

Now the best time to include volunteer skills is when you have not got much work experience. As a fresher, right out of college, you probably should consider how to put volunteer work on resume.

Also, if you have taken time out of work to raise children or are getting back to work after a long spell of unemployment, you should definitely research how do you list volunteer work on a resume. 

Putting volunteer work on your resume does not always have to emphasize a human touch. It can work wonders for you when highlighting the different skills that you picked up. There are two kinds of volunteer work. One is when the work is related to your career, and another is when the work is not related to your job. 

For example, teaching teenagers their first coding language is career-related volunteer work. But working for free at a dog centre is not related to your career. But both can be useful to highlight skills learnt from the experience.

Why include volunteer work on a resume

There are so many pertinent reasons why you must include volunteer work on your resume and give thoughts to how to list volunteer work on resume. 

Here are some of the reasons. 

  • You were out of work for a long time. And to explain the gaps in your career path, it is necessary to dress the area up with some volunteer work. Under such circumstances, you can research how to put volunteer work on resume.
  • Help employers understand your transferable skills which you may have gained while volunteering. Transferable skills include leadership, training, and technical skills which you pick up while on the job. In such cases also, you can find out how to add volunteer work to resume.
  • In case you have no work experience or are fresh out of school or college, you can look up how to put school volunteer work on resume. Volunteer work is quite similar to the workforce, and you can list your experience here to boost your resume.
  • If you are applying for jobs in a field where volunteer work is required, search up how to list volunteer experience on resume as this will help you to highlight a section on your resume that the prospective employer is keen on.
  • In case you are looking to work in academia, learning how to put volunteer on resume is a must for you. 

How to Prepare your Resume

Before discussing how to add volunteer experience to resume, first, let us look at how to create a resume. 

  • Name with contact information

Put your full name along with an email ID that is preferably very formal sounding. You might want to omit mentioning those funny email IDs that you made as a child in a thrill of the moment. 

  • Professional experience

While stating your professional experience, highlight your work life by using a blend of numbers and facts. State the number of projects you worked on, the revenue that was earned because of it, how many hours you put in, while also not forgetting to mention your contributions to the project. You can also mention what skills you picked up from the work.

  • Education

Along with the educational institutes that you attended, do try to research how to put school volunteer work on resume. Wherever possible, mention relevant coursework that you took that can enhance your value in the market. 

  • Key skills

Try to come up with skills that match your job description. Over the years, no matter where you worked, you would have probably gathered a lot of work-related skills. It could be transferable skills or work-related skills. Mention them and highlight how you managed to put them up. 

  • Qualifications

Under this section, mention the qualifications, the certificates, and the various awards that you might have won over your career. These help the employer to not only have a favorable view about you, but will also allow them to understand that you are more than suitable for the job.

  • Optional sections

In this section, you can include volunteer work or any other work that you were doing. Also, mention your hobbies and interests. At the same time, thoroughly research how to put volunteer experience on resume.

How to include volunteering on your resume

Now we come to the most crucial part of this article, where we will explain how to list volunteer work on resume. 

  • Include examples of volunteer work in your professional experience section

Your professional experience section might be crowded or sparse depending on the number of years that you have worked. If it is crowded, you should consider mentioning only around three to five jobs and their details, while if it is sparse, blend the professional experience with volunteer work.

Apart from your internships and experiences, list the places where you have served. Make sure to add that you were a volunteer and not a permanent employee. 

For example:

  • Albuquerque Children’s Centre

Volunteer Computer Teacher, June 2018-Dec 2019

Or, 

  • Tennessee Animal Shelter

Did volunteer work by building a website for the organization

These are some of the ways in which you can work on how to put volunteer work on resume.

  • Connect your volunteer experiences with your skills

Wondering how to add volunteer work to resume? Try to weave in the volunteer work that you have done into the skills sections. You could have honed some transferable skills like leadership and time-management, or developed particular new skills, especially for the volunteering position that you held. Either way, try to be specific about the skill and the post that you held. 

Here are some examples of how you can do that. 

  • I learnt how to schedule my day and manage time while I worked at the Senior Citizens Centre
  • During my stint at a cancer rehabilitation centre, I learnt how to manage people
  • While I worked as a teacher for a kids’ computer centre, I learnt patience while simultaneously finetuning my Python skills
  • Create a separate section at the end of your resume for unrelated volunteer experiences

Often, the best way to add volunteer experience to resume is to add a completely different section for it in the resume. Right at the end, carve out a niche where you can display the community service you have rendered. If your volunteer work isn’t on the same page as your work industry, it needs to go in here. Also, if you were a volunteer during school and that work inspired you to work in technology, do not forget to mention it. Additionally, if you find during your company research that it values a rich life outside of work, you need to include your volunteer work into this section. 

  • Volunteer Work: Helped to organize a marathon in aid of Kids for Tech. 2019.
  • Volunteer Work: Established a fund for kids that dropped out of school to take an interest in computers.
  • Volunteer Work: Worked at a shelter providing food to homeless people.

Where to put volunteer work on a resume?

When considering how to put volunteer experience on resume, you may be confused as to where to put it. 

What is the best place to describe your voluntary work since panels only take around a few seconds to scan through your resume? There are ideally two places where you can quietly sneak in mention of your volunteer work. The first place is in the professional experience section. All the major volunteer work you have done for longer than two months needs to go on there. 

And the minor free service you have done can go into a separate section at the end. But no matter how you frame your volunteering section, mention the relevant skills the present job is looking for, not just some random things that you learnt from the position. 

Trivia

There are over 1.5 million not-for-profit organizations registered in the US.

How to Describe Volunteer Work on Resumes?

While wondering how to list volunteer experience on resume, you may come across this interesting problem of how to actually go about describing the volunteer work that you did. Do not worry! You can do it quickly! The best way to describe volunteer work is to use bullets. This simple technique will section each job you may have worked at, into an orderly list. Also, wherever applicable, try to use numbers and dates to clearly mention the duration and the nature of the work you have accomplished. 

How to Include Volunteer Work on Resume when it’s Minor?

In case you’re pondering how to put school volunteer work on resume, you can try to put it under the hobbies section. But what about volunteer work that is minor? Like attending a bake sale or participating in the marathon? If you have a lot of this minor volunteer work, put it in a section called Experience. If they are slightly more insignificant, you can add them to an Activities section at the end. 

Here are some examples. 

  • Church volunteer that helped to raise a $6000 for an African charity
  • Worked at an animal shelter for four months helping strays get new homes across the state
  • Helped build houses for low-income families

Tips for Listing Volunteer Work on your Resume 

Here are some tips to help you with how to put volunteer work on resume. Follow them and create a stellar resume for yourself. 

  • Revise your resume for each job application

For every single job that you apply for, take the time to create a bespoke resume. Every single voluntary service may not be relevant for the jobs that you are applying for; so, if it is not necessary, do not add it. Then, how to list volunteer work on resume? Just mention the work-related volunteering that you have done. As simple as that. 

  • Include keywords from the job posting

Another clever way of how to put volunteer work on resume is to study the job posting and find the keywords that are there. These keywords could be skills or a requisite qualification. You can take these keywords and utilize them in creating your resume.

  • Only include volunteer work when needed

While wondering how do you list volunteer work on a resume, you need to strike a balance between the professional experience that you have and the volunteer work that you have done. If you have a lot of professional experience, you can ignore the portion on the volunteer work. Since employers only spend a couple of minutes looking at your resume, you have to take a call on which are the essential aspects of your career that you want to be highlighted. 

What Counts as Volunteer Work

When contemplating how to put volunteer experience on resume, you will also need to understand what counts as volunteer work and what does not. Usually, volunteer work is of two types. The first one is related to your work life and includes those jobs that are connected with computers or technology. The second one relates to those jobs that are not related to your work life. They could be causes that you are passionate about and have always been.

  • Related Volunteer Work

Related volunteer work is complementary to your work life. For example, it will include the free service you rendered in the fields of computer science and is relevant to the job. For example, if you are a web designer, you could have designed websites for free for some people or organizations that cannot spend the money to get their message across. This is a great answer to how do you list volunteer work on a resume. 

  • Unrelated Volunteer Work 

If the volunteer work you did was unrelated to the present job, make a section called “Community Service” or “Volunteer Work”. Under this, you can specify what services you undertook. 

FAANG organizations look upon charity work with favor especially if you gave back to your community willingly. 

Volunteer Resume Samples 

Right Examples:

  • How to list volunteer work on resume sample example #1

Worked as a computer teacher from 2016-2017 at the Texas Centre for Children. Engaged in teaching them not just Python but a multitude of life lessons as well. 

  • How to list volunteer work on resume sample example #2

Took time off from work to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and built 26 homes for people across the nation. It has proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. 

  • How to list volunteer work on resume sample example #3

Went to Africa under a UN project to build 4500 wells for people to have clean drinking water. 

  • How to list volunteer work on resume sample example #4

Helped to raise money (around 1 million) for those who lost their property in the Australian bushfires.

  • How to add volunteer work to resume example #5

Worked at Turtles Today to save 24 turtles and help them find clean living spaces. Learnt leadership and time management skills as a volunteer since I was in charge of the team. 

Wrong Examples:

  • How to add volunteer experience to resume example #1

Volunteered at the Texas Centre for Children.

  • How to list volunteer experience on resume example #2 

2 months volunteer as a web designer. 

  • How to put volunteer on resume example #3

Worked at a nursing home. 

  • How to put volunteer experience on resume example #4

Spent the summer in Africa. 

  • How do you list volunteer work on a resume example #5

Was a volunteer at a kid’s camp.

As you can see, these wrong examples were pretty half-hearted and convey the message that you volunteered just for the sake of it. Hence, if that volunteering activity truly made an impact on your life, let it be known, loud and clear.

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