3 Common Questions About Including Volunteer Work on Your Resume
A resume that lists volunteer work not only reveals the skills and interests you’ve developed throughout your volunteer positions, but also shows that you take initiative to find work that you enjoy. Employers love to see that you are motivated by the chance to learn – not just by a paycheck.
Listing volunteer work on your resume also can add a lot of valuable information to your job history, especially for new job seekers or recent college graduates with short resumes. Volunteer positions can fill gaps in employment – so for students whose employment history is short, volunteer work can be an especially important addition to your resume.
But how do you include volunteer work on your resume? Check out these 3 frequently asked questions:
1. Should I include volunteer work along with paid experience on my resume?
Some resumes list volunteer work in a separate category from paid positions. But many students have only held volunteer positions, or might not have enough experience to warrant two separate sections.
Employers expect students, unlike more experienced applicants, to have volunteered in order to learn the ropes of the workplace. Because paid experience and volunteer work both offer students key opportunities for growth, feel free to put them in the same section on your resume when applying to your first job after college. Just make sure to be up-front about the nature of each job if asked.
2. What if I have no job title for my volunteer work?
Writing that you were a “volunteer” on your resume might be accurate, but it leaves employers wondering how your volunteer work experience applies to their workplace. Think of a title that represents the kind of volunteer work you did on the job. Were you helping to file records or organize a new task force? Try “clerical assistant” or “project manager.” If you need help or are unsure about possible titles for your resume, ask your volunteer work supervisor to help you clarify your responsibilities.
3. How should I describe my volunteer position?
The volunteer work on your resume should show employers the important skills you learned. As with any job on your resume, the best way to describe volunteer work is to relate it to the job to which you are applying.
List two or three responsibilities of your volunteer jobs that demonstrate a knowledge of skills you can bring to your new workplace. If it’s clear that your experience helped foster some valuable abilities you will need as an employee, your volunteer work can be a key part of your resume.
Call (319) 272-2087, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Get Connected to get involved in volunteering.
Thanks to University Language Services for this information. Article written by Anne Nass, former Communications Coordinator at the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley.
Three Central Benefits of Volunteering as a College Student
Volunteering simply out of the goodness of your heart should always be your first motive when deciding to feed the hungry, help the homeless or assist a family in need. Yes, you may need to fulfill a certain amount of community service hours each semester in order to qualify for membership in a particular organization on campus, like a fraternity or sorority, but you should really volunteer because you want to improve the quality of humanity and the environment. Those who actually enjoy helping others are the ones who will reap the most benefits from volunteering – and no, building your character isn't the only area volunteering can improve your life. In fact, volunteering can help solve issues that most students are concerned about on a regular basis: post-graduation job placement and debt-forgiveness, for example.
Volunteering Beefs Up Your Resume. Even if there is stiff competition for a job, stating various volunteer projects and/or organizations that you've been affiliated with throughout the course of your college career can help set you apart from other applicants that have the same set of career-related skills and experience as you – especially if you've managed to score a title such as "chair" or "executive" or you initiated a volunteer program/initiative on your own. Through your volunteer experience, you can demonstrate to a potential employer how you can effectively manage, meet deadlines, do great PR work or show that you're good with your hands. Your skills will vary depending on what kind of volunteer work you did specifically.
If you struggle finding a job right out of college, volunteering can also help compensate for "lost time." Employers like to hire applicants that stay "active" – simply stating that you lived at home while you searched for a job for a year will not help your employment chances. But saying that you volunteered while job hunting can help your chances substantially.
Volunteering can also help impress admission officers if you're trying to enroll in graduate school, medical school or law school. Admission officers are always on the lookout for well-rounded, three dimensional students and volunteering can demonstrate that.
Volunteering Increases Network Opportunities. When you volunteer for various organizations, you are thrown into an environment with a mixture of people. Some are successful; others know successful people or have "connections." Depending on who you speak to or work alongside, you may just end up meeting someone who can offer you a job, become a financial backer for your entrepreneurial endeavor or provide you some sound advice.
Volunteering Can Potentially Offer Loan Forgiveness. Lastly (and most importantly for those who have acquired a heavy student loan debt), volunteering may just be able to help you pay back your loans if you sign up with the appropriate volunteer organization. Larger organizations, specifically the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, do offer some loan forgiveness if you volunteer for a number of contract hours and meet certain qualifications.
Call (319) 272-2087, email email@example.com, or visit Get Connected to get involved in volunteering!
Thank to Nadia Jones and the Points of Light Foundation for sharing this information. Article written by Anne Nass, former Communications Coordinator at the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley.