If you’re keen to give back to your community, have a strong social conscience and want to make the world a better place, chances are you’ve done some volunteer work while studying or in your spare time.
Volunteer work is not only a great way to help organizations, causes, and charities, it’s a helpful addition when writing your resume as well.
Your volunteer work shines a light on what you care about and increases your employability which is not just about paid work – it’s about your ability to engage, collaborate, think and design a lifelong career path that brings together passion and purpose.
Employers are increasingly looking for candidates who are the right fit for their company, not only in terms of academic skills and experience but also in terms of “soft skills.” Skills for your resume such as communication, empathy, and creative thinking can all be demonstrated through volunteer experience.
Tips for how to list volunteer work on a resume
Here are some top tips for talking about volunteer experience on your resume:
- Volunteer experience should be listed on your resume using the same format as your work experience – with the details of the organization you volunteered at, your role, any achievements and the dates you held the role
- If your volunteer experience is highly relevant to the job you are applying for, highlight it prominently in your resume and when writing your cover letter
- If your volunteer experience is not relevant but it’s something you are proud of, list it in your professional/personal development or ‘interests’ section
- Link to your academic qualifications. If you are a recent graduate with little professional experience but have academic qualifications and volunteer experience, demonstrate how the two go hand in hand. For example:
- Bachelor of Business, Torrens University Australia and worked on a volunteer project for Red Nose where we developed plans for strategic growth and expansion of their operations and marketing opportunities to encourage people to donate clothing and other items.
- Remember to avoid jargon and abbreviations when listing any volunteer experience so employers know who and what you are talking about.
- Try to use an authentic voice when talking about your volunteer experience – this is a part of your resume where you get a bit more creative and really tell the story of why it was important for you to volunteer in this role, or what it was about the organization that attracted you. What did you learn and how could you bring those learnings into your dream role?
- If you have any testimonials, include them in your resume and your LinkedIn profile
- Include links to whatever organization you volunteered at and be generous in driving traffic to their website – make it easy for prospective employers to ‘check out’ where you have been and demonstrate your genuine love for the cause by influencing people to find out more about it
- Include a section about potential volunteer opportunities and link it to a job
- Many companies support their employees in actively volunteering as part of their approach to ‘giving back’. This is particularly true for B Corp organizations. So, if you want to work at an organization that supports your passion for doing good in the world, make it clear. E.g.: ‘I’m keen to work at an organization where I can actively support underprivileged communities by joining in any internal programs.’
- Consider writing a blog on Linkedln about what you gained from your volunteer experience and link it to your resume
- Remember you can ask people at the organization you volunteered with, to act as referees for you
Highlight your ethical internships
Have you had an ethical internship as part of your studies or through your university? An internship is often a bit more structured than a volunteer experience, and it too is worthwhile adding to your resume as it demonstrates the fact that you have gained industry experience while you were studying.
Volunteer experience on a resume is always a good thing
Volunteering can provide many rewards – make one of them helping you stand out in the job market. Volunteering demonstrates that you’re more than just your academic mark or experience – you care enough to make the planet a better place.
Sometimes volunteering for something is a good way of finding a career you love.
In fact, your volunteer experience could lead you to new paths. For many new business professionals, it is hugely important to demonstrate their social impact on their resume and in interviews – and there are many ways you can build an ethical career by volunteering or even starting your own movement, which would be a fantastic addition to your resume!
So, shine a light on your worth – decide the best place to put your volunteer experience in your resume, talk about it in interviews and be proud of your desire to bring about change in your work, your community and your life.