Can You Put Volunteer Work for Employment History?

Volunteer work encompasses an extensive range of activities that have the potential to make your resume more impressive.

For instance, your recruiter may choose your profile over a candidate with similar qualifications and skills but does not have any volunteer experience.

We learn new skills every day through different tasks. Throughout their academic or professional career, jobseekers gain new experiences through hobbies and sports.

However, many of us are not aware of the importance of volunteer work.

Whether you are a frequent or a seasoned volunteer who has adequate experience working in different roles, your volunteering experiences can increase your chances of securing a job.

But how to add these experiences the right way to improve this probability?

Adding volunteer work on your resume is not as tricky as it seems. You just have to decide what experiences to add and what to omit.

Our guide will help you add volunteer experiences to your employment history the right way.

Create a Separate Section

Since volunteers typically do not receive any salaries or wages for the work they perform, job seekers are confused about whether they should add this experience to their employment history.

For that reason, adding a separate ‘Volunteer Work’ section to your resume is the best way to list all relevant experiences.

Many people remain engaged with philanthropic and charity activities for most of their lives.

A church-going individual can perform missionary and humanitarian duties locally and internationally while serving at a local charity.

Another instance is when someone is passionate about event management; he participates in arranging local charity events.

Volunteerism is now an integral part of American culture. Motivations and reasons for volunteerism can be different.

A homeowner can turn into a firefighter in his suburban neighborhood if the local fire departments combat a forest fire.

Employees of small and big businesses can improve a community by cleaning up or renovating dilapidated homes.

List all these experiences under this section as recruiters prefer hiring positive-minded people who are willing to reach out to people who need help.

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Add Complete Information

Whenever you mention a volunteer experience, don’t forget to add the charity or organization’s complete contact details.

Remember to mention the dates of participation. Some applicants use volunteer experience as ‘reasons for leaving’ a job.

Use Volunteer Experiences to Fill up Employment Gaps

Recruiters pay close attention to unexplained gaps in an applicant’s employment. One of the best ways to fill these gaps is to add a volunteer experience in the employment section instead of the volunteer work section.

Many employers fear that the gaps in your employment history indicate periods of substance abuse or rehab.

Your volunteer work can clear away all doubts and leave a good impression on the recruiter.

Provide References

Ensure you provide enough references and proof of your volunteerism by adding at least a couple of professional references to your resume.

An employer may contact the director or concerned person of the organization you volunteered to confirm your experience—furthermore, many organizations and charities award certification of participation and appreciation.

Mention them on your application or under the ‘Awards and Recognition’ section.

Benefits of Putting Volunteer Work on your Application

Regardless of whether you put your volunteer work experiences in your employment history section or volunteer work, they make a great impression of your skills and traits.

Extensive and related volunteer experience can increase the likelihood of getting your dream job.

Other Types of Volunteering Efforts

Applicants must know what types of volunteer experience will look more appropriate for their resume.

In addition to volunteering at a non-profit organization, an orphanage, or a homeless shelter, there are countless ways to perform volunteer work.

Let’s take a look at some of the skills and experiences that you can list on your resume. These may or may not be considered a part of your employment history.

  • Fundraising
  • Sports Coach
  • Mentoring
  • Offering services to neighbors, friends, etc.
  • Helping at Events
  • Providing transport
  • Chaperoning
  • Community Service
  • School associations
  • Providing transport
  • Counseling etc.
  • Neighborhood Watch

Important Tips to Remember

Here are some important tips to remember

  • Start by mentioning the volunteer work experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for before moving on to other experiences
  • Quantify your responsibilities and duties of all volunteer work experiences
  • Highlight any critical experience or activities that show your problem-solving skills
  • Include only the more recent and critical positions or activities.
  • When listing multiple experiences, you can also choose to add experiences in reverse chronological order.

Follow the layout of your resume’s work experience section, add all information in the same format, and order as your volunteer work.

Do not forget to add the name of the organization along with your role and the appropriate dates.

In some cases, omitting certain experiences related to your volunteer work is a wise decision.

No rule suggests what experiences should go on your resume. Pay close attention to the job description and see if your volunteer work experiences fit with that role.

Why Volunteer Work is Important

Volunteer experience is quickly becoming one of the most important sections of a resume. That’s especially true for employees who do not have much experience under their belt or student who does not have any significant work experience.

In case you are a college or a high school student, you should turn to volunteer work for bolstering your experience.

Around 75% of employers prefer applicants who have solid volunteering experience on their resume.

While anyone can list qualities and strengths on their application, volunteer work represents applying your skills to help your local communities.

Final Thoughts

Volunteer work can be a great addition to your resume. However, make sure you list all your experiences appropriately and pleasantly.

Follow this guide to increase your chances of getting your dream job by listing your volunteer work experience the right way.

Marissa Letendre, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Marissa Letendre is a senior HR leader and resume expert with over 12 years of experience. She has worked for both startups and Fortune 50 corporations and has helped thousands land jobs at top companies. Marissa has written on a wide range of topics, including employee engagement, career development, resumes, job searching, recruiting, and organizational effectiveness and has been featured on sites such as Slack and The Undercover Recruiter.

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