How To Include Volunteering on a Resume (With Examples)
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Job candidates can put volunteering positions on a resume to enhance their qualifications and provide examples of their skill set. Different volunteering positions can demonstrate an individual's capabilities for a wide variety of professions. By learning how to best format your volunteering experiences, you can determine which strategies can best help you succeed. In this article, we explain when to add volunteering experiences to a resume, provide examples of some positions you can include and list the steps for structuring your experiences on a resume document.
When to put volunteering on a resume
There are several reasons why you might include past volunteering experience on a resume. It's important to consider these reasons before developing your content, as including volunteering experience may increase your chances of receiving a job offer. Here are some circumstances to consider:
Current student or recent graduate: If you're completing a degree or recently graduated from a programme, you may have a shorter work history section. As a result, you may include any volunteering experiences that show how you might perform in a professional context.
Job position relevance: You can include volunteering experience in a resume when it provides evidence of your skills for a job position. For example, if you apply to a health care position and only have clinical experience as a volunteer, you may benefit from adding it.
Career path changes: If you enter a new field after working in another profession for a long time, you might include volunteering experience to show your interest and dedication. Hiring managers often appreciate learning new information about why you changed your career.
Job position gaps: Individuals who stop working for a certain length of time to address another situation, like caring for family or recovering from an illness, may also perform volunteer services during this time. They can benefit from including these experiences on a resume to show hiring managers new competencies they gained.
Examples of volunteering experiences to put on a resume
Here are some examples of volunteering experiences you can put on a resume and which skills each option might highlight:
Animal shelter positions
Many animal shelters rely on volunteers to provide essential services, like caring for the animals, taking them onto the streets for a walk or promoting adoption events through an online platform. These volunteering positions can help you demonstrate integrity and empathy for others, which are important characteristics for many job positions. They can also allow you to discuss your administrative and advertisement skills, depending on your job duties.
Performing services for a library often involves shelving books, conducting administrative tasks on a computer system or leading community events. Adding these positions to your resume can help you show both organisational skills and an ability to focus on details. Many aspiring professionals can benefit from discussing these volunteer positions on a resume, including librarians, office clerks and academics.
Parenting association positions
Primary and secondary schools often provide clubs for parents and other family members, involving them in school activities and allowing them to fundraise for educational resources. If you include these positions, you can show strong collaboration skills and express your dedication to a community. Parents returning to work may especially benefit from discussing experience in a school association, as it can show skill sets they recently practised or learned.
Nursing home positions
Some nursing homes hire volunteers to assist residents with day-to-day tasks and provide companionship during meals or activities. Including these positions can show your teamwork skills, as individuals working in a nursing home often collaborate to provide optimal care. It can also help you demonstrate competency in active listening skills, as nursing home volunteers often assess the needs of residents by asking critical questions.
Many hospitals and clinics hire volunteers to comfort patients, bring them to examination rooms and provide administrative support to medical professionals. Aspiring health care professionals can especially benefit from including these positions, as they show both soft skills like interpersonal capabilities and hard skills like knowledge of medical terminology. If you recently completed secondary school, then including a hospital position can increase your chances of receiving admission to a university programme, including medical school.
Some community centres, secondary schools and universities often allow individuals to volunteer as tutors, sometimes helping their fellow peers. Adding these positions to a resume document may especially benefit aspiring teachers, as they can highlight an ability to explain complex concepts simply. Information technology professionals can also benefit from including this experience, as library staff typically use database systems and specialised software.
Pro bono positions
This term typically refers to professional work a barrister accepts on a volunteer basis, often through a not-for-profit programme. Recent law school graduates may especially benefit from including pro bono positions, as they can enhance your legal qualifications and demonstrate your knowledge of court systems. You can also include pro bono experience to fill a gap between two job experiences or to show your competencies after taking a leave of absence from a legal field.
Environmental awareness positions
Not-for-profit environmental organisations often require volunteers to lead conservation programmes and provide educational resources. These positions can help you show a varied number of skill sets, including teaching skills and record-keeping competencies. As a result, both environmental scientists and other types of professionals can benefit from including these volunteering positions in a resume document.
Food bank positions
Food banks typically collect food surplus, then redistribute it to their local areas. If you're applying to work at a not-for-profit institution that specialises in community service or social justice activities, it may be especially helpful to include these types of positions on your resume. They can also demonstrate collaboration and organisation skills, as food banks often require volunteers to conduct tasks together and store food products in a warehouse effectively.
How to include volunteering on a resume
Follow these steps to learn how to include volunteering on a resume effectively:
1. Determine where to place your volunteering experience
Reflect on which area of your resume document you can enhance by adding volunteering experience. For example, if you learned skills or performed a role directly connected to the job position, you can use that experience to supplement your work history section, providing more information about your industry-related expertise. If a volunteering role only demonstrates your professional characteristics, you can either add your positions to another section or create a new one.
2. Place volunteering experiences in a work history section
Be mindful to format your volunteering experiences in the same way as your work history items. It's often helpful to include key details about the position, like your formal title, the name of the organisation, its location and the length of time you spent there. Then, consider writing a minimum of three bulleted points about your primary duties and accomplishments. Including a statistic when discussing your achievements can help make them concrete for a hiring manager.
Ecological Restoration Volunteer
Yau Ma Tei Ecology Center
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Organise and deliver educational presentations on environmental studies for primary school students
Manage composting process for an independent research project that resulted in a 7% increase of sustainability efforts in 2019
Promote ecological awareness events on social media and answer inquiries about volunteering options
3. Create an additional section
If you've held multiple positions outside of your field, consider including a designated volunteering section. You can either title it generically or according to a primary skill set, such as child care experience. Then, include a bulleted list of different types of volunteering experiences with brief descriptions of key information, like your main responsibility and the time you spent in a role. When selecting experiences to feature, it may be helpful to review the job position's list of preferred qualifications.
Clinic volunteer for one year, comforted paediatric patients through procedures and helped develop an internal records system
Library volunteer for three years, shelved books returned books and lead weekly reading programme for secondary school students
Peer tutor for four years at North Lantau University, helped first-year students in the mathematics programme review for final exams
4. Add volunteering to a list of extracurricular activities
If you have one or two volunteering role examples, you can include them on a list of other extracurricular activities. To better supplement your other resume content, consider adding experiences that highlight your interests or soft skills. This approach can help you provide a more nuanced representation of your professional activities, allowing a hiring manager to learn about your overall goals and value system. Consider also using a bulleted list to format this section, as it can enhance the document's clarity.
Volunteered at three food banks between 2018 and 2021. Distributed canned products to individuals in community programmes.
Served as the vice president of the Parent Association at Tuen Mun School. Planned monthly meetings and prepared newsletters.
Played junior varsity football at Tsing Long University. Developed football strategies and fundraised for the team.
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