Is Volunteer Work Worthy of Going On Your Resume? Absolutely!

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Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community, network with like-minded individuals and possibly gain valuable experience. Whether you volunteer regularly or pitch in sporadically as time allows, the experience says a lot about who you are and what you care about. Employers want to hire candidates who are driven, passionate and willing to exceed expectations for the greater good. Nothing emphasizes this more than choosing to donate your time to a nonprofit in need.

Results of a Recent Deloitte Volunteering Survey

According to a 2016 Deloitte Impact Survey, an overwhelming 82% of hiring managers prefer candidates with volunteer experience and 85% overlook resume pitfalls if the candidate includes volunteer experience. Respondents claimed volunteer experience increases a candidate’s hireability for a number of reasons, including:

  • Gaining leadership skills (92%).
  • Expanding an employee’s professional skill set (92%).
  • Generally believing people who volunteer are more successful (73%).

While 80% of survey respondents reported that professionals who volunteer have an easier transition into leadership roles, only 30% percent of resumes that come across their desks list volunteer experience. Additionally, 86% of respondents consider resumes containing volunteer experience more competitive that those without, but 40% do not currently have volunteer work on their own resume — creating a major opportunity for you to gain a competitive advantage.

Related vs. Unrelated Volunteer Experience on a Resume

Volunteer work can have a place on your resume, but the exact location and presentation of the content can vary depending on the nature of the work, your past experience and your career goals.

Related Volunteer Work

Volunteering can be a great way to learn new skills and enhance existing abilities that are directly related to your job. For example, if you are a graphic designer who lends your skills to a local non-profit, the experience is completely relevant to your previous role. When the experience is related to your current job search, the content placement is more flexible. For example, related volunteer work can get its own separate section on a resume. However, if you do not want a separate volunteer section, consider incorporating the content into the professional experience section.

Unrelated Volunteer Work

Giving back to your community looks great on your resume in any form — even when it has nothing to do with your job. If your volunteer work is completely unrelated to your professional goals, either omit this information from your resume or create a separate section and list it there. This content should be towards the end of your resume and should be kept concise. 

General Tips to Incorporate Volunteer Experience on a Resume

Use the following suggestions when featuring volunteer experience in your resume:

1. Focus on Relevancy

When it comes to resumes, quantity does not equal quality. While meeting the requirements is an essential part of progressing past the application process, every detail of each past experience is usually not required. In fact, an overabundance of information can detract from a resume.

Include volunteer work that highlights any required skills and experiences you otherwise would not have. This can be especially helpful when attempting to transition into a new type of role or returning to full time employment after taking a few years off. However, if your resume already features a comprehensive work history, there is no need to include extensive details. Keep in mind, your LinkedIn profile is an ideal place to list and elaborate upon any volunteer work.

2. Be Consistent

If volunteer work is incorporated into the general work experience section of a resume, ensure that the presentation is consistent with the other entries. Clean formatting will aid in easy reading / scanning as well as importing the resume into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

3. Remain Transparent

Recruiters and hiring managers do not want to guess whether or not an experience was from a volunteer or a hired role. They certainly do not want to feel as though they have been deceived. Regardless of the placement, make sure there is a distinction between the volunteer and paid work experiences, as you do not want to mislead anyone reviewing your resume.

For additional information, read 4 Ways to Incorporate Volunteer Work into Your Resume.

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