Working Volunteer Experience Into Your Resume

A couple months ago we discussed how volunteering can boost your company and your career– in addition to the personal benefits you glean from being a volunteer. Now we’re focusing on how volunteer work can help you in your job search, and how to effectively weave it into your resume.

First, before getting to your resume, you should be using your volunteer connections to help you in your job search. All kinds of people choose to volunteer, and cultivating the network you meet during volunteer activities can help you greatly in your job search. You most likely seek out volunteer opportunities related to your career path or interests. Both of these align you perfectly with meeting a number of peers who may be able to help you out in your job search. Not to mention you’re likely to meet individuals, who as active volunteers, enjoy helping people. Get to know your fellow volunteers and mention you are in the midst of a job search. They may introduce you to people they know looking for job seekers or offer you tips for your job search.

Next, how do you strategically place your volunteer activities on your resume? For the majority of cases you will want to put your volunteer experience in a separate section, especially if you volunteer with a number of different groups. If, however, the duties you perform as a volunteer are comparable to those of an employee there is no hard and fast rule preventing you from placing volunteer experience alongside your other work experience. Some volunteer positions function similarly to internships, but are labeled differently for a number of reasons. These should especially be showcased on your resume. Don’t forget the smaller roles you served as well. Companies are beginning to focus on not just the results, but also the company culture. As discussed in the post a couple months ago, organizations are beginning to do more volunteering as a whole company. Demonstrating you are a team player and that you are focused on others may give you a slight edge over others in the job search with similar credentials.

Still think we’re just do-gooders trying to get you to do good too? The Washington Post recently posted an article outlining the importance of not leaving out volunteer experience from your resume. The ability to lead a team, organize a function, or many of the other tasks associated with volunteer experience show employers you are qualified for a number of positions. This holiday season is the perfect time to volunteer and to be an active member of your community. Get out there, help others, and perhaps help your resume too in the process.

Do you do volunteer work on the side? Do you think it boosts your resume? Share with us in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by San José Library