How to List Volunteer Work on Resume in 2023

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


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Volunteer Work on a Resume

Whether you have lots of work experience or none, volunteer experience can be a great addition to any resume’s experience section. A volunteer position can help you put yourself above 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 Putting Volunteer Work on a Resume is Important

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. The key skills you learned in those years of experience can absolutely help you out. This makes it great for people going through a career change into a new industry, people who are still in high school or just graduated, and recent graduates from college. Just because it’s not paid work, that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant experience.
However, if it’s been more than a few years since you worked at this volunteer job, especially if you have more work history you can rely on, you may want to rethink including it on your resume. Although the skills you built throughout the volunteer experience section are great skills that you can use for many job titles, relying on volunteer work you did over five years ago for a job search today can play negatively into your job search.

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 section. Instead of putting your volunteer work in the work experience section, you would put it in a special volunteer work section. This can be helpful if you have both paid work and volunteer work that you want to highlight, especially if they’re 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. The ResumeHelp resume examples section can help you learn how other people are writing about their work history, including volunteer work. Remember that the skill set you build will be quite wide, but volunteer work more frequently helps you build your soft skills than your hard skills.

FAQ: Volunteer Work on a Resume

Q: What kind of volunteer work looks good on a resume?

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.

Q: How do I highlight volunteer work in my cover letter?

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.

Q: Will I be asked about volunteer work in job interviews?

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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