The value of volunteer service on your resume
Is it that important to place your volunteer activities on a resume? Do employers really care about volunteering? Should you even bother talking about your community service?
By definition, a resume describes the uniqueness of a job seeker to others, reflecting the applicant's work experience, goals and capabilities. But what does a description of the individual's skills and experiences as a volunteer say to an employer? It says that this prospective employee is willing to try new experiences, be involved in community, and will take initiative and make things happen!
Volunteer work can be an excellent way to showcase key skills and should certainly be integrated with other work experiences on your resume. This is an especially important tactic if:
- you are a recent college graduate with limited professional experience;
- if you have taken a significant amount of time away from the workplace to raise young children or to care for a sick family member; or
- you have experienced a lengthy period of unemployment due to a depressed economy in your state or region.
How can you incorporate your volunteer experience into your resume to gain the maximum benefit? The answer will depend, to some degree, on how related your volunteer experience is to your career target.
Related Volunteer Work
Related volunteer work can be combined with related work experience under a category heading like "Related Experience." If the volunteer work demonstrates a critical skill area, then it could be placed within a category with a functional heading like "Fundraising Experience" or "Event Planning Experience."
In either case, the volunteer experience should be listed just like a job with a title that captures the essence of your role and a description which highlights skills applied and any accomplishments. As you list your accomplishments, it is also a good idea to quantify these contributions with tangible numbers such as percentages.
Unrelated Volunteer Work
If the volunteer work is unrelated to your job goal, you can incorporate it under a separate category like "Community Service" or "Volunteer Example." Most organizations look favorably upon staff who contribute in a positive way to the surrounding community given the public relations benefits for the firm and the opportunity for staff to network with potential new clients for the organization.
Beyond the resume, attaching yourself to a meaningful cause can give you a sense of satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment. So, if you do find yourself with a bit of extra time each week, don’t hesitate to devote them to a cause that you care deeply about.