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How To List Volunteer Experience On Resume: Examples & Best Practices

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You’re preparing your job application and want to highlight the work you did as a volunteer but you don’t know what to list on the resume, so you begin to worry.

You’re not alone. Many people have the same challenge.

Volunteering is a great way to get experience in the workforce, while also gaining skills and knowledge, even if that doesn’t get you paid.

It also showcases your dedication and desire to learn, which is something that many job seekers value.

This guide will show you the best way to add volunteer experience to your resume so that you can make the most out of them while applying for a job.

Should You Put Volunteer Experience on Resume?

Including volunteer experience in your resume showcases the projects you have participated in without necessarily doing paid work.

If you’re just entering the workforce, including your volunteer experience is a great way to fill the gaps where your previous experience should go.

Why Put Volunteer Experience on Resume

When you include your volunteer experience in your resume, you may convince a prospective employer of your ability to perform in the job they’re looking to fill.

Employers that are looking to hire someone fresh out of college or entering the workforce, are most likely to opt for someone who has the experience rather than someone who’s brand new.

For example, if you previously volunteered as a web developer, you can use that as relevant experience to get a software developer situation.

Putting volunteer experience on your resume also shows your desire to give back to the community, and that you care more about than just money.

When Should You Put Volunteer Experience on a Resume?

Including volunteer experience on your resume is necessary if you have little or no professional experience, especially if you are still in college or high school. It helps your candidature to stand out from the crowd.

Employers often frown upon gaps in applicants’ resumes, and volunteer experience can help you to account for the period when you were out of work.

If you did volunteer work that is relevant to your job application, including it is extremely important. It shows you’re not starting from square one and that your learning curve will most likely be easier.

You should also include volunteer work that shows deep care for other people.

It’s not only a sign that you may have more developed soft skills than the competition, but that you’re a compassionate human being too.

When Should You Leave Volunteer Experience Off Your Resume?

You do not always have to include volunteer experience. Most recruiters and HR practitioners deem it unnecessary under the following circumstances:

1. When It Goes Against the Company’s Mission

Research the company before applying for the position to ensure that your volunteer experience doesn’t go against the company’s interest.

For example, if the company you’re applying for and the organization where you volunteered have opposite values, you may want to consider leaving your experience out of your resume.

2. When It Was a Long Time Ago

Is your volunteer experience still relevant? Probably not.

If you volunteered for a position many years ago, don’t include it in your resume. It may unnecessarily clog more important details and make the resume too long.

3. When It Isn’t Relevant to Your Career

Volunteer experiences don’t necessarily call you for the field they’re in, but for the help you can provide. So, it makes sense that not all volunteering is relevant to your job application.

For example, volunteering in an accountancy firm may not be relevant for a beat writer’s position.

Always filter your volunteer experiences and pick the ones that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

4. When You Have Lots of Relevant Work Experience

Putting volunteer experience on a resume is only necessary where you do not have relevant work experience.

In addition to education, it’s better to focus on relevant work experience rather than including volunteer experience.

That’s especially true for mid-career professionals with years in the workforce.

How Do You Write Your Volunteer Experience?

First, determine the kind of volunteerism in which you have participated.

Can you equate your volunteer position to a job? Prospective employers are more interested in how that experience translates to a job, albeit unpaid.

In addition, find out the skills you’ll showcase by including the volunteer position.

Depending on the type of resume, you may want to put volunteer experience under professional or work experience. But, you must consider whether or not the volunteer work is relevant to the position for which you’re applying.

We describe what a resume should look like in the following sections:

Words To Describe Volunteer Experience

How you describe volunteer experience depends on whether or not it is relevant to the job. You may use the words “volunteer work” if it has no relationship with the job. Otherwise, put it under “professional experience.”

Don’t: Volunteer Social Worker – Doctors Without Borders

Do: Software Developer – Web Design Agencies – Wrote the entire code for a 20-page website and got it running bug-free.

Where To Put Volunteer Work on Your Resume

If you decide to put your volunteer experience, make it part of the “professional experience” section. Otherwise, you should create a separate section to showcase volunteer work.

If you have no idea where to begin, use a resume builder.

Resume builders offer great suggestions on where to put volunteer experience. You’ll fill out the template with details concerning the different sections of the resume.

What Are Volunteer Experience Examples?

Volunteer experience examples are used to describe what, where and when you did your volunteer work.

Here’s a good example of volunteer work for someone with relevant industry experience:

Volunteer Experience Examples for Students

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some FAQs about listing volunteer experience on your resume.

Is it good to include church volunteer work on a resume?

Yes. You should include church volunteer work on your resume, especially if it’s relevant to the position that you’re applying for.

If not, then listing it in the Volunteer Work section should still suffice. In that case, your volunteer experience would only bolster the rest of the resume’s contents.

Can you find fake volunteer work to put on your resume?

No. You shouldn’t put fake volunteer work in your resume even if you find fake volunteer work.

Doing so means you lack integrity, a key consideration for any job.

Even if your employer doesn’t discover the lie, you wouldn’t be able to use skills you do not have.

What are the most common volunteer work experiences?

The most common volunteer experiences include both paid and unpaid work. If you’re just starting out or have a gap in your resume, volunteer experience should be enough.

Otherwise, you should fill your resume with paid professional experience.

Wrapping Up

You can use volunteer experience if you’re a recent school graduate or have a gap in your resume.

However, you may not need to take that route if you volunteered over ten years ago or don’t have relevant experience you can consider including.

If relevant to the job, you may add your volunteer experience in an aptly named section or as part of your professional experience.

Leave a comment if you want to know how to write volunteer experience on a resume.

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