How to List Volunteer Work on Resume in 2024

If you have minimal professional work experience, listing volunteer work on a resume can be very helpful. Here’s how to best present volunteer work on your resume.

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By Ho Lin 5 minute read

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Tips for presenting volunteer work on your resume

Whether you have lots of work experience or none, volunteer experience can be a great addition to any resume’s work experience section. A volunteer position can separate you from other job seekers, especially when it comes to an entry-level position or a position that places a lot of emphasis on helping your community. How do you list volunteer experience on your resume, and why is it important? Here’s what you need to know.

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Why it's important to put volunteer work on a resume

Volunteer work is a big deal. A whopping 82% of American hiring managers say they prefer someone with volunteer experience over someone without that experience. This means if you list volunteer experience on your resume, you could get a job more effectively than a resume that includes no volunteer experience. A recruiter is more likely to look at a job application that has volunteer experience.   Additionally, volunteer work can show off skills you may never have thought about. Depending on the specific volunteer work you’re doing, volunteer activities can showcase adaptability, empathy, a desire to help your community, and knowledge of certain skills like fundraising. These skills all look great on a job application, especially if your potential employer has already indicated that these are skills they’re looking for.

When to list volunteer work on a resume

Volunteer work is almost always a good idea to list on a resume. It’s even better if you don’t have a robust work experience section. Volunteer work can show off key skills you’ve gained or used,, which makes it especially useful for people going through a career change, first-time job seekers, and people who are still in school or have just graduated. Just because it’s not paid work doesn’t mean it’s not relevant experience.
However, if it’s been more than a few years since you worked at your volunteer job, and you have some substantial work history you can rely on, you may want to rethink including too many details about it on your resume. Although the skills you built throughout the volunteer experience section might be great skills, relying on volunteer work you did a long time ago can create the negative impression that you haven’t had a professional job for a while.

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How to list volunteer work on a resume

There are typically two options for listing volunteer work on your resume.
The first option is to create a separate “Volunteer Work” section that’s independent of your work experience section. This can be helpful if you have both paid work and volunteer work that you want to highlight, especially in very different fields. If you’re applying for a healthcare job and you want to put your volunteer work at an animal shelter on your resume, it’s probably best to create a section for that volunteer work.
The other option is to include this experience directly in your work experience section. If you’re looking for a new job and you don’t have a lot of experience, this can be a great way to compensate. Community service and working for nonprofits both build skills that can help you in your new job, which means they’re relevant in a variety of resume formats.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important that you know how to list volunteer work effectively. Check out our resume examples section to see the different ways you can write about work history, including volunteer work. Remember also that the skill sets you use in volunteer work can also help support soft skills you mention in your resume, such as teamwork and a strong work ethic.

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FAQ: Volunteer work on a resume

Have questions? We’re here to help.

All volunteer work will look good on a volunteer resume. It’s all professional experience that showcases you care about other people. However, if you have volunteer work that’s relevant to your job, that will always be the best place to start. An aspiring veterinarian, for example, might choose to list volunteer work at a local shelter.

Highlighting volunteer work is important in both your resume and your cover letter. Just like you should use the ResumeHelp Resume Builder to create a resume you’re proud of, you should use the ResumeHelp Cover Letter Builder to build an equally great cover letter. Plus, these tools can give you cover letter and resume tips to help you improve your resume overall, even more than just adding volunteer work to it.

If you list volunteer work on your resume, the hiring manager may ask about that work when reviewing your skills section or your relevant experience. Before you go into your job interview, think about how you want to discuss each job in your resume, and how it can apply to the job you want, so you’re not taken by surprise if the interviewer wants to talk about your volunteer work.

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Ho Lin Profile

Ho Lin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and editor with two decades of experience in content strategy, creation, and development. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and his background includes experience aiding military veterans as they transition to civilian careers.

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