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.
Our last story about service-learning in the Waterloo schools shows how passionate students at George Washington Carver Academy can be when they set their mind to something! The creativity and development of these students is so evident in the ways this project was formed.
This series of stories about service-learning in the Waterloo schools demonstrate a deeper and more developed understanding of what impact looks like in our community. It is not about "doing good" just because it's good, but it's learning about the community we live in and truly opening our minds to the real impact individuals in our community face. One major highlight of these service-learning projects was the fact that these students took time to LEARN first about their community then ACT from their understanding! They were intentional in the way they learned about our community and even more deliberate in the way they took action!
George Washington Carver Academy
An eighth grade class at George Washington Carver Academy was very concerned with racism. They explored the topic by reading about it, and also by listening to guest speakers on the topic! They then put together a PowerPoint presentation on racism and the effects of it. They also wrote letters to the editor, and conducted a survey of their fellow students on the topic. When the project first begun, the students felt powerless to do anything about racism in our society. They were angry about it, but did not have any focus on a positive approach to racism. The project helped clarify that they could educate others and become advocates for the elimination of racism in our society!
A while ago, we posted our first article about service-learning and how the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley is helping the Waterloo community! Here is a recap of what service-learning is:
Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities! Service-learning will help students develop responsibility, empower them to feel they can make a difference, increase their civic awareness, and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Service-learning is wonderful because it enhances both student growth and the common good. It achieves real objectives in the community while enabling students to achieve a deeper understanding of social issues. Below is another story about how service-learning helped students learn about health issues!
Lou Henry Elementary
Fourth grade students in a talented and gifted class at Lou Henry Elementary wanted to have an impact on the lives of students at Lou Henry regarding health issues. To explore the issues, they listened to speakers from the Allen nursing school and nursing program at Hawkeye Community College. They also did some research on their own. After discussing the information gleaned, they decided to write a play about the importance of cleanliness in day to day life. They authored the play, designed scenery, collected costumes, and then presented the play to their fellow students! The students learned much about health issues and were able to teach the rest of the school!
On our blog today, we have a special guest writer, our very own Youth Program Coordinator - Jean Seeland. Jean will talk about her time in the elementary schools of Waterloo and about the service-learning projects she helped implement!
Children are never too young to begin learning about how to give back to their community and their world. I began working with preschoolers at Kittrell Elementary two years ago in a classroom that included several autistic children. The response was so positive, that this year I am working with two classrooms! I visit the classes each month and we do a special service-learning project designed for the preschool children. For example, one month we decided to honor our community helpers. We asked the city of Waterloo to send out a garbage truck and someone to explain the job of a sanitation worker. After a wonderful experience that excited the children, the children made special posters saying "thank you" to sanitation workers that they took home and attached to their garbage cans!
Another month we had a special speaker from a veterinarian's office and then we made cat toys that were given to the Humane Society. The most powerful aspect of this engagement is not the projects we do, but the empowerment the young children feel knowing that they can make a difference in the world. I am a firm believer that traditions begun at an early age continue into our latter years!
- Jean Seeland, Youth Program Coordinator
Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of service-learning or maybe this is the first time you heard of the word. Here at the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley, we are very familiar with the concept, in fact, we have partnerships with community schools to help implement service-learning projects into the curriculum!
What is service-learning? Service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrate meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities! Service-learning will help students develop responsibility, empower them to feel they can make a difference, increase their civic awareness, and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Service-learning is wonderful because it enhances both student growth and the common good. It achieves real objectives in the community while enabling students to achieve a deeper understanding of social issues.
Service-learning is for any age student from preschool to college! Read this story about students at Peet Junior High!
Peet Junior High
Students at Peet Jr. High became active participants in the community when they focused on doing things to help the homeless. They contacted the Salvation Army and set up a schedule to have a "Red Kettle" drive at the school for a week following Thanksgiving. They rang the Salvation Army bells before and after school and collected money from their classmates, teachers, and parents! They also made tie blankets that were donated to homeless shelters in the Cedar Valley. In addition, they educated their peers on the plight of the homeless with a PowerPoint presentation that was shown to the student body. They demonstrated in many ways they could make a difference with their active involvement!
The winter months have many holiday celebrations such as Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day (Epiphany), and more! Here are some ideas that individuals and groups can do to help brighten our community during the winter holiday season! Please tailor these ideas to reflect the holiday you celebrate and comment below about other ideas or traditions that you incorporated.
If you need help connecting to an nonprofit or organization in the Cedar Valley, visit our Agency page to view a list of all the organizations that are member agencies with us! You can always email or give us a call at 319-272-2087.