The main purpose of writing a resume is to inform an employer of the skills and experience you have that qualifies you for a specific job. When you’re writing a resume, you may wonder whether or not you can mention volunteer work that you have completed.
Not only can you list volunteer work on your resume, but doing so is often a great way to demonstrate your skills and help employers understand your interests (including those that are not directly related to your job).
In this guide, we discuss how to include volunteer work on your resume and walk through a few examples of volunteer work listings on a resume.
Why Include Volunteer Work on a Resume
Listing volunteer work on your resume can have a number of advantages.
By listing volunteer work on your resume, you can better showcase the skills you have acquired. For instance, if you run a local chapter of a volunteer running group, you may have acquired skills in event planning and fundraising that could be useful on the job.
Volunteer work is also valuable to list on your resume if you have limited professional experience. If you have just graduated from high school or college, for instance, you may not have much—or any—experience in the workforce.
Mentioning any experience you have volunteering is a good way to show that you have experience working in a non-educational environment, which can go a long way to convincing an employer that you are the right candidate for a job.
How to Include Volunteer Work on a Resume
There are three ways you can include volunteer work on a resume.
In the Professional History Section
If you are a student who has very little professional experience—or are just starting in the workforce—then you should consider adding volunteer work to the professional history section of your resume.
Once you have listed any work experience you have, you can also mention the volunteering opportunities which you have pursued in your career. For instance, if you have volunteered at a local charity to help them fundraise, or helped with a house-building volunteer project, you could mention it in your professional history section.
Here’s an example of volunteer work listed in the professional history section of a resume:
Habitat for Humanity
Volunteer Builder, July 2019-August 2019
- Helped coordinate the start of a Habitat for Humanity project
- Contributed to building four rooms in a house for the project
- Worked with a team of 70 volunteers
As you can see, this description is accompanied by a list of three bullet points outlining what the candidate learned from the position. If you are mentioning volunteer work in your professional experience, you should feel free to explore what impact you had in the volunteer position in more depth than you otherwise would.
In a Volunteer Experience Section
Alternatively, you can list your volunteer experience in its own section.
This is a common approach for people who already have extensive professional experience but want to showcase a few of the volunteering opportunities they have pursued.
In addition, if you have experience that is unrelated to the position for which you are applying, adding it into its own section is a good idea.
This is because, unless you have no other experience to mention, you don’t want to make unrelated experience appear too prominently on your resume. Such information may distract the reader from the key points you are trying to make.
Here is an example of a listing in a volunteer experience section:
Charitable Fundraising Drive Volunteer | Local Radio Station | January 2016-May 2016
Including Volunteer Work on Your Resume: Top Tips
Now that we’ve discussed where you can include volunteer work on your resume, let’s explore a few top tips you can use to make the most out of listing volunteer work on your resume.
Tip #1: Only list volunteer work when it is relevant.
Volunteer work is a good way to showcase the wide range of skills you have. However, you should only list volunteer work when you feel doing so will add value to your resume.
If you have extensive professional experience in a field, or if the volunteer work you have done is completely unrelated to the job for which you are applying, you may want to consider leaving it out.
This will give you more room to discuss your skills, educational history, and past work experiences that are more directly related to the position, thereby making it easier for you to position yourself as a good candidate for a job.
#2: Update your resume for each position.
While this may sound unnecessary, one way to ensure your resume will stand out is to personalize it for each position you apply for.
You should make sure that every resume you write for a job reflects the needs of the employers and how you meet those needs. So, if you have volunteer experience that relates to one position but not another, you may want to submit two different resumes to ensure each of them reflects your core skills and experiences relevant to the job.
#3: Keep your volunteer experience short if you have other experience.
If you are using volunteer work to stand in for professional history—which is common if you are a student or a recent grad—then you may want to use a longer description. However, if you already have work experience that you can list on your resume, there is no need to delve too deep into each volunteer position you have held.
Here is an example of a volunteer experience listing on a resume:
Fundraising Volunteer | Local Non-Profit | Oakland, CA | April, 2019
Facilitated the tracking of $5,000 in donations sources from our email campaign and grassroots fundraising efforts.
Volunteer Work on Resume Example
What does volunteer work look like when listed on a resume? Here is an example to help you understand how volunteer experience should appear on a resume in more depth:
A dedicated administrative assistant with two years experience coordinating the schedules of executives.
Key assisting skills include: Communication, customer service, phone etiquette, discretion, organization, experience with Google Calendar, Airtable, Excel, and email, knowledge of administrative practices within large organizations.
Smith Paper Company
April 2018 – Present
- Worked to coordinate the schedule of Office Manager
- Answered the phone and took memos for Office Manager
- Managed all ingoing and outgoing correspondence for the Office Manager
Oakland Animal Shelter
- Provided scheduling support for the head of the Oakland Animal Shelter
- Screened and routed phone calls to the appropriate parties
- Made travel arrangements for the head of the shelter
- Filed and generated reports and presentations on behalf of manager
University of Notre Dame
August 2014 – August 2018
Bachelor’s of Communication, 3.8 GPA
Listing volunteer work on your resume is a good way to showcase the additional skills you have acquired outside of the professional workforce.
For people without any professional experience — such as students or recent graduates — volunteer experience is a good way to showcase that you have some working experience outside of school, even if it was not as part of a business or government organization.
By following the tips in this guide, you should be able to include volunteer experience effectively on your resume. The volunteer experience you list may be what encourages a recruiter to reach out to you to schedule an interview!