Thinking about putting volunteer work on a resume? Is it going to be helpful for hiring managers? Volunteer work could sound like a great way to show the hiring manager that you’re a passionate and heartfelt person who can collaborate with others.
Though, maybe it’s not the right idea to list it on your resume.
Here is what job seekers should know about including a volunteer position on their resume.
What is the volunteer work section on a resume?
A volunteer work section is similar to any other section that’s listed on the resume.
What you’ll see are these sections:
- Contact information.
- Work experience/professional experience.
Volunteer work can be included as one of these sections. Or, another way to format the work is to include it as part of your work experience.
Before deciding which is best, understand that volunteer work can be a section that you can list on your resume. It’s entirely optional.
A standard resume format is chronological. Or hybrid format. In this format, you’ll see multiple sections on your resume.
When to include volunteer work on a resume
Volunteering experience could be best suited for those who are applying to non-profit positions, science positions, or educator roles.
This is when key skills that come from volunteering experience can be more valuable to the job title.
It is not a way for the traditional job seeker to make their resume stand out.
Volunteer experience should only be included in the resume when it will benefit the hiring manager in evaluating your passions and key skills.
Great volunteer work to include is:
- Nursing home work. Which can show teamwork, record keeping, and compassion.
- Homeless shelter work. That can show great collaboration and communication skills.
- Library volunteer work. Can show strong organizational skills.
- Church volunteer work. Shows project management, leadership, and verbal communication skills.
How to include volunteer work on your resume
Here’s how to include volunteer work on a resume.
Examples of volunteer work in the experience section
For certain positions, it’s okay to list the volunteer work in the work history/work experience section of the resume.
Most commonly, the types of jobs where volunteer work is acceptable to place into the work history section is:
- When applying for a non-profit position.
- If applying for an academic position.
- When the job description specifically mentions desiring to see volunteer work.
To do this, this is how your work history section should look:
John Marketing Company – September 2010 to October 2011
- Assisted with general marketing procedures.
- Produced more than 100 marketing campaigns.
Brothers and Sisters of America – January 2010 to February 2010
- Volunteered as part of the big brother program.
- Worked closely with 3 children, providing mentorship and leadership.
As you can see in this example, volunteer experience is part of your work history.
Create a separate section on the resume
If the job application doesn’t specify wanting to see volunteer experience, then it means that you can create a separate section on your resume to include your resume volunteer work.
This could include community service, church work, fundraising, and other related experience.
To put volunteer resume experience on your resume in a way that can impress the hiring manager, make it a new section.
Here is what it will look like:
- Plan and execute a monthly fundraiser for children with disabilities.
- Work closely with animal shelters once a month.
In this example, the volunteering work is unrelated to the job. Meaning, it is not directly relevant toe the application documents that the employer has asked for.
This does not mean it is not valuable to list.
Connect volunteer work with soft skills
When your volunteer work isn’t related to the job. Or isn’t specifically requested to have listed in the job application, it can still be useful to reference.
Primarily, listing volunteer work as part of your professional story, alluding to relevant skills that’s required of the position.
Here’s how you should do that:
- Donate time once a month to the brothers and sisters of America program.
- Offer mentoring and guidance to young adults.
Other types of volunteer experiences could include church volunteer work and planning/executing successful fundraising events.
Both of these show leadership capacity. And passion or drive.
Some volunteering work can show great problem-solving skills, planning, coordination, verbal communication, written communication, and more.
For example, basketball coaches who voluntarily work with the youth can show great leadership, training skills, and work ethic.
Volunteer work on a resume samples
Here are more specific examples of listing resume volunteer experience.
Resume samples for related experience
Boys and Girls of America
May 2015 to June 2018
- Assisted with the software development of the website. As part our volunteer work we coordinated with marketing teams, other engineers, and designers to produce a higher quality web experience.
- Provided monthly and quarterly business reviews of all software, iOS applications, and more.
- Customized the web application to track form submissions.
In this example, you are including your volunteer experience as part of your paid positions/paid experience.
Pro tip: Only 32% of job seekers choose to put volunteer experience on their resume. Though, many hiring managers appreciate this section being included in their resume.
Resume samples for unrelated experience
Boys and Girls of America
May 2015 to June 2018
- Provided time each month to work with children who lost their parents.
- Reviewed profiles of the children and offered counseling.
Volunteer resume samples as bullet points
Doctors Without Borders, Volunteer
June 2015 to June 2018
- Provided patient care overseas.
- Helped to treat infections, provide antibiotics, and more.
- Assisted with educational programs that showed proper hygiene.
How not to list it on your resume
Do not include your volunteer work as part of your additional activities section.
Here is what that could look like:
- Part of a weekly bicycle group.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
- Am part of a weekly investment club.
Listing all volunteer work under one section
It’s always best to go into detail, describing your volunteer experience and how that volunteer experience applies to the job you’re trying to get hired for.
When listing related volunteer work on your resume, do not format it as the following:
- Peace Corp, May 201o to June 2010
- Brothers and Sisters of America, June 2012 to June 2013
- Food Bank/Food Shelter, March 2019 to May 2020
In this format, the bullet points should not list each of your volunteer work experiences. Instead, make sure that you write the format exactly like you’re listing your work experience.
This way, it can be perceived as relevant experience to your resume. And you can use that space to speak to why it’s relevant through the bullet points.
When to leave it off the resume
You shouldn’t list volunteer work when you’re trying to enter into a new industry, when you’re trying to compensate for a lack of experience, or when you simply want to stand out.
If you don’t think it will be useful in getting a job offer, then it won’t be useful to the hiring manager, either.
Here is when you should leave volunteer work off the resume:
- When you’re a recent graduate and you want to fill your resume with more text.
- If the related volunteer work doesn’t speak to a specific skill that the job description is mentioning.
- Or when you’re trying to enter into a new career/new industry (transitioning careers) and you’re using this as a way to stand out or fill your resume with information.
- Simply wanting to stand out from other candidates.
Here are tips for listing volunteer experience on your resume.
Revise your resume for each job
Always customize your cover letter and resume for each job application.
Never use the same application more than once. Review each of the job descriptions related to the job you want. And customize your sections based on the duties and responsibilities.
All cover letters and resumes should get customized to the employer, the job title, and the job listing.
Include keywords from the job posting
Carefully read the job postings that you’re trying to apply to. Throughout the listing, you should see keywords and references to key skills that are required to succeed in the position.
Mark each keyword that you see.
When considering the volunteer experience to list, consider which skills and keywords that these experiences apply toward.
Use the section to fill in any gaps related to key skills that you could be missing from your other resume sections.
Only include volunteer work when it’s helpful
Are you making a career change? Or is this section going to be useful to the HR representative who reads it?
It’s important to understand which objective we’re trying to meet.
If the objective is to stand out, it could be a better option to focus on these sections instead:
- Career objective.
- Career achievements/career success.
Choose the right resume format
Listing any volunteering work on a resume can certainly lead to more interviews. Make sure that you’re using the correct resume format for your application.
Most job seekers will use a chronological resume. Rather than a functional resume.
Both resume formats allow you to list volunteering work using the formats provided above.
Make sure you’re using the correct resume format for the type of job you’re applying for.
Pro tip: Not sure what to do? Consult a resume expert, resume writing service, or a mentor to help determine what should go on your resume and what shouldn’t.
Our favorite resources are included below.