Have you been laid off due to the coronavirus? Are you getting ready to graduate from college and start the job search? Maybe you’ve decided that it’s time to make a career change because you’re no longer happy in your job working from home. No matter what your situation, if you are currently job seeking, you will need a tailored resume to help you land your next job. But sometimes it can be difficult to determine exactly what you should include in your resume and how to stand out from the crowd. For example, should you discuss past and current volunteer work on a resume? If so, how? Here are some tips and guidelines to help you determine if you should include your volunteer experience on your resume.
Pros of Listing Volunteer Work
Volunteer work can be a great addition to your resume. It can help showcase your soft skills, your interests and how qualified you are for a job position even if you don’t have extensive work experience. This is especially helpful if you are a recent grad or making a career change. This is also important if you work in an industry where volunteer work is encouraged, such as health care, academia or nonprofits. If you have been laid off, including any volunteer work can show a hiring manager that you are staying active and using your time productively while job searching.
How to List Volunteer Work on Resume
When you consider putting volunteer work on your resume, first you want to determine what kind of volunteer work you have done. If asked to explain your volunteer work, would you be able to talk about it as if it had been a previous job position? Will it showcase skills that are relevant to the job position you are applying for?
If your volunteer work is relevant to the job position, you may want to include it under the professional or work experience sections on your resume. Use the same formatting as your other work experience and highlight any measurable accomplishments, just as you would a regular job position.
If your volunteer work isn’t relevant to the job position but highlights your dedication to your community or shows what is important to you outside of work, you can include it on your resume under an additional information section or even consider adding a section exclusively for volunteer work.
If you are a recent grad and don’t have a lot of work experience, you may especially want to highlight volunteer work in your resume. You could list any internships, leadership positions in a student organization and mentoring programs where you served others. Again, try to measure accomplishments in those roles, not just the tasks you performed.
If you are changing careers and don’t have a lot of work experience that highlights your transferable skills, you can consider adding a volunteer work section near the top of the page. This will ensure that the hiring manager doesn’t miss that section and understands that you are qualified for the position based on the volunteer work you have done.
When You Shouldn’t List Volunteer Work
If you are a mid-career professional and already have a lot of relevant work experience, you can be more strategic with your resume. If your work experience already showcases your skills sufficiently and your other resume sections are robust, it may not be worthwhile to eliminate one of your other work experiences or accomplishments to include volunteer work. Also, consider how long ago you volunteered. If you haven’t volunteered for many years, it may not be worthwhile to include it on your resume.
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Remember to Tailor Your Resume
It’s important to tailor your resume to each individual job position, so you shouldn’t submit a standard resume to each job listing. You may find that it makes sense to include your volunteer work for one job position, but it doesn’t make sense to include it for another. For example, some organizations may have a company culture of giving back to the community; you can highlight that you fit in with that culture by including your volunteer work. Keep a master copy of your resume with all of your work and volunteer work experience. Then, you can personalize it to each individual job posting.
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