City Personnel Blog

How Your Volunteer Experience Can Boost Your Resume

Although you may not realize it, time spent working to help your community can set you apart from the competition when it comes to job searching. If you volunteer, you should be proud! It’s also a great way to show your initiative while you’re between jobs. But employers can be put off if your volunteer experience isn’t effectively woven into your resume. Make sure that whatever experience you choose to include is relevant and appropriate.
August 17, 2017

Although you may not realize it, time spent working to help your community can set you apart from the competition when it comes to job searching. If you volunteer, you should be proud! It’s also a great way to show your initiative while you’re between jobs. Don’t be shy about including your philanthropic side on your resume; it’s a great way to show more of your personality in a professional and conscientious manner. But employers can be put off if your volunteer experience isn’t effectively woven into your resume. Make sure that whatever experience you choose to include is relevant and appropriate.

To maximize the credibility of your volunteering time, consider creating a skills-based resume instead of a traditional chronological resume. Many job seekers continue to maintain chronological resumes out of habit, but a skills-based resume allows you to include your volunteer accomplishments in direct relation to a job’s qualifications. You can include them in the Relevant Skills section if it directly correlates to your professional skillset, or list them with Other Experience if you feel it’s helpful but falls into more of a general skills category. Where you include your volunteer experience depends on the type of volunteering you’ve done. If you choose to maintain a chronological resume, use your volunteer time to fill in time periods in which you were unemployed. Interviewers will appreciate seeing that you took the initiative to make good use of your time away from the workforce.

Make sure to elaborate on your relevant volunteer experience. Resumes packed with PTA prowess sometimes get tossed simply because such experiences don’t relate to the job requirements and can feel out of place. However, time spent helping your child’s school can be a good thing if it’s included effectively. For example, if you were heavily involved in planning and promoting a fundraiser at your child’s school, this is a great way to reflect your event planning and organizational skills, especially if you promoted the event through press releases and on social media, or got support from local businesses.

Employers aren’t mind-readers, so elaborate on your exact volunteer responsibilities rather than simply adding another bullet point to a list. Cultivating a team for a charity project shows leadership capabilities and proves that you’re a proactive job candidate, and helping with budget management for a nonprofit is a great way to show how you’ve flexed your financial and analytical muscles outside the office.

After you’ve successfully infused your resume with volunteer vibes, take a modest stance on these items during interviews. Don’t actually bring up your volunteer experience to the interviewer--let speak for itself. If the employer has questions about it, they’ll ask. Speaking of what to avoid, leave out any volunteer experience that might raise eyebrows. This includes time dedicated to political campaigns or extreme demonstrations that got negative publicity. Even though employers cannot discriminate against you for your beliefs, they may subconsciously form an opinion about your candidacy that puts you out of the running.

If you don’t currently volunteer, now is a great time to work it into your lifestyle, especially if you’re looking for your next career! You can forge valuable networking connections by reaching out to the community, and may find yourself on someone’s radar whose company has an opening in the future. If you’re not sure how to get started, visit https://www.volunteermatch.org/ to find a volunteering opportunity you can get excited about. Volunteering isn’t one-size-fits-all, so don’t get involved on principal. Find causes that hold true meaning for you, and great things will follow!