How to Put Volunteer Experience on Resume: Examples & 25+ Tips
A resume is usually a one-page sales document selling yourself to potential employers. It details your key skills, work experiences, and best achievements.
Writing a resume can be tedious and stressful.
Still, there are probably burning questions like these:
“What should you include in your resume if you are a recent graduate with no work experience yet?”
“How can your resume stand out when you don’t have any previous work experience to show?”
‘How can you attract a hiring manager’s attention in just 6 seconds without being dismissed due to inexperience?’”
Good thing a resume sample or resume template is there to the rescue. It would also be helpful to look for a resume format to take inspiration from. This way you can easily follow an outline or framework to help you craft your own.
However, it can be a bit of a challenge if you don’t have any experience to show.
Don’t worry, you can include other resume sections that will help you stand out.
Often, people list published works, training courses, and relevant volunteer experience on their resumes instead of the work experience section.
A volunteer experience section on your resume is where you list the work experiences you have done voluntarily and free of charge. It is a great way to demonstrate your core strengths, key skills, interests, and motivation.
We’ll explain how volunteer experience can still be considered professional experience on a resume.
Learn what qualities recruiters look for in a volunteer experience and how to include it on your resume.
In this guide, we’ll show you:
- How to put volunteer experience on your resume.
- Where to place or put volunteer experience on resumes.
- Resumes samples with volunteer experience you can use.
- When to add volunteer work under work experience.
Why you should include volunteer experience on a resume
Just like regular employment, volunteer work shows your skills. Here are several reasons why you may want to include volunteer work on a resume:
- Conveys transferable skills when shifting careers or industries.
- Explains employment gaps in your resume for a lengthy absence from the workforce
- Boost your chances of getting hired even if you have no professional experience (important for recent high school or college grads)
- Ensures your resume is competitive
- Indicates your passion for helping your community.
- Demonstrates your interests in something besides earning money and also highlights your non-work-related interests.
- Shows your dedication to an organization, and advances you in leadership roles within those organizations.
Who should include volunteer work experience on a resume
Volunteer work may make or break your job application for certain types of job-seekers, but may also be valuable:
- If you are applying to non-profit organizations or academic positions, where such work is highly valued.
- If you are a recent graduate or have little professional experience.
- If you are currently unemployed, volunteering can help you fill gaps on your resume. Volunteer work proves your commitment even when you’re between jobs.
- If you’re between jobs or hoping to boost your resume, consider volunteer work opportunities.
- Volunteer at one place consistently for a long time— it is better than jumping from one organization to another.
- Choose to volunteer within your industry to make your volunteer experience effective.
Not sure how to list volunteer work on resumes and cover letters? Where exactly to put volunteer work on a resume?
Read on for more detailed steps, tips, and examples.
1. How to List Volunteer Work on a Resume When It’s Major
Myth: Recruiters and hiring managers often hire candidates with work experience only.
Experience in volunteer work on a resume can help you get hired.
How? Let’s find out:
A recent survey of the impact of volunteerism in employment shows that:
- 81% of HR executives said that skilled volunteering will be taken into consideration.
- 76% of respondents believe volunteer experience makes a job candidate more desirable.
- 81% of hiring managers said that volunteer work would make a college graduate more desirable.
When to put volunteer work under the work Experience Section
If the volunteer experience matches the job you are applying for, then it can count under work experience.
Does your volunteer experience demonstrate valuable skills the job posting seeks?
If yes, then you should list them like a job description on your resume. You can include it when your volunteer experience demonstrates multiple skills the job description wants.
You may add volunteer experiences to your work history section if you have considerable career gaps or sparse employment history. It will help fill in gaps and strengthen that section.
- List volunteer experience like a job using bulleted points.
- Choose carefully which volunteer activities you list in your work history section.
- Put volunteer experience relevant to your industry in the work history section.
- In the work history section, list volunteer activities as you would any other official position. Add “volunteer” before the job title you would have if you worked there formally.
- List unrelated volunteer experiences in a separate section at the bottom.
- Quantify your achievements and highlight the skills you developed while volunteering.
- Use keywords relevant to the job description when summarizing your volunteer experience to ensure your resume will pass ATS scans.
Rescue Paw Patrol | January 2020 – present
- Aid veterinarians in administering medication to animals without owners
- Receive, stock, and arrange two shipments of equipment and medicine each week, worth $12,000
- Manage Rescue Paw Patrol’s social media accounts, increasing the user base by 27% in 5 months period.
ADDITIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE
Feeding California | Feb. 2018 – Feb 2020
- Prepared and served food for about 100-200 pax on weekends
- Managed a spreadsheet listing charitable donations over $65,000.
- Recruited at high schools, colleges, and churches to achieve 20 more weekly volunteers
2. How to Add Volunteer Experience to a Resume When it is Minor
In some cases, the volunteer experience section is not an essential part of a resume for a specific job. Perhaps you’ve done work for free and voluntarily for someone and that doesn’t relate to the job you’re currently applying for. For instance, you walked dogs for a local shelter or a neighbor or organized a bake sale for a friend.
Your volunteer experience may be irrelevant, but it still has value. Just don’t include them as part of the professional experience section. And remember to show activities tied to skills in the job ad.
So, do you put volunteer work on your resume when it’s minor? Yes!
- Put it in a volunteering section below Experience if you have heaps of them.
- Put it in an Activities section if you don’t have much.
- Put Minor Volunteer Experience in a separate resume section lower down.
- Keep the list as brief as possible when you want to put your volunteer experience in a separate section at the bottom.
- Consider listing your position and which organization you volunteered for if the role isn’t directly related to your job or job skills at all. You don’t have to write every detail.
- Use the volunteer section as a separate work experience section, especially if you have held multiple positions.
- Mention the name of the organization, the dates you volunteered, and 2-3 bullet points detailing what you did there.
Volunteer Experience Section
Safe Haven Elder Care | June 2020-Present
- Assist nursing home residents in making the transition to assisted living;
- Help elders cope with memory loss, loneliness, and depression through stress relief therapies in arts, music, gardening, and low-stress exercise activities.
Example #2: Minor Volunteer Experience on Resume (if you have lots)
- Church volunteer. Led fundraising efforts to raise $5,300 for charity.
- Elder Care/Nursing Home volunteer. Managed recordkeeping on 115 patients for 1.5 years with 100% HIPAA compliance.
Example #3: Minor Volunteer Experience on Resume (if you have little)
- Dog walker volunteer. Walked dogs at a rescue center every Sunday.
- [Insert minor volunteer activity #2]
3. Examples of volunteer work on your resume that counts
Volunteer work can be considered a resume experience, as long as it shows your skills, accomplishments, and winning attributes in line with the job you’re seeking.
Volunteering for a worthy cause will enhance your resume. This means any activity that is free of charge or pro-bono work counts as experience.
What Counts as Volunteer Work: Examples
- When you volunteer your services in a professional capacity, this is known as pro bono work. This is ideal and is widely accepted by recruiters. For example, you volunteered to have a BCS (business case study) to prove your skills to an actual job and provide a quick win to a potential employer.
- Volunteer work in hospitals can show healthcare expertise. Additionally, it shows skills employers desire, such as teamwork and compassion.
- Volunteering at a nursing home can demonstrate teamwork, record-keeping skills, compassion, and more.
- Volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity can highlight collaboration and construction skills.
- Volunteering at a daycare proves organizational discipline and problem-solving skills.
- Church volunteer experience shows strong leadership, persuasion, and organizational skills.
- Volunteer activities in animal rescue centers show compassion and work ethic.
- Students can volunteer as coaches and tutors. This shows motivational skills and goal-driven attributes.
- Volunteers from the Homeless Shelter are excellent collaborators and communicators.
- Volunteering at a food bank can demonstrate interpersonal or organizational skills.
- Blood Drive volunteers demonstrate desirable skills such as teamwork and compassion.
- Leadership and training skills are common among basketball coaches who volunteer.
- Child care volunteer work is typically preferred for child care jobs. They show people skills in communication and collaboration.
- Providing care for an ailing parent can be listed as volunteer work on a resume.
- Volunteer opportunities for parents include helping teachers and coaches and organizing fundraisers.
- Include volunteer experiences on your resume if you have limited professional experience. This can help employers to learn about your interests and accomplishments.
- Put major volunteer experience under the work experience section of your resume if it shows multiple accomplishments that match the skills listed in the job ad.
- Include it in the activities section if you have minor experience or not enough to show on your resume.
- List a community service experience as a volunteer position on a resume. It avoids any suggestive criminal connotation.
- Incorporate volunteer experience into your experience section, skill section, or separate volunteer section.
- Ensure your volunteer experience relates to the job description using relevant keywords to optimize your resume for ATS scans.
- Create a personalized resume for each job application that matches the employer’s required skills, traits, and qualifications.
- Understand the employer’s ideal candidate. It can help you decide whether or not to include a volunteer section and where to position it.
- You should only include volunteer work on your resume if it will make your resume more credible when you lack valuable job experience. Otherwise, leave it off.