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How do you list volunteer work on a resume? We'll discuss now, but first: say hello to Jill, the hiring manager. Nice Burberry eyeglasses. She's using them to read a mountain of 300+ resumes. They all look the same. What will help your resume stand out? Your volunteer work.
But how do you list volunteering experience on a resume? Just tossing it in anywhere won't work. Worse, it can backfire horribly.
This guide will show you:
- How to list volunteer work on your resume.
- Where to put related volunteer work on a resume for best effect.
- Why unrelated volunteer experience must go in a special section.
- How to include volunteer experience on resume using bullet points and prove you're perfect for the job.
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Sample resume made with our builder—See more resume examples here.
Check out some other relevant resume examples here:
- Non Profit Resume
- Tutoring Resume
- Volunteer Coordinator Resume
- Skills Based Resume
- High School Student Resume With No Work Experience
- Social Work Resume
When to Include Volunteering in Your Resume Experience
Let's get back to Jill, the hiring manager. She's read 247 resumes so far today. "Responsible for" is burned into her retinas. Like 82% of fellow managers, she likes to pick resumes with volunteer experience listed.
She gets to yours. You listed volunteer experience (which she likes) but you did it wrong (which she doesn't). Off to the reject pile with you. But...
Does volunteering count as work experience? Should you even put volunteer work on a resume?
That depends. The best place to include volunteer experience in your resume is the "work experience" section if (1) it's very relevant to the job, (2) you've got very little paid experience, or (3) a resume gap. Volunteer experience is much like work experience: you apply yourself, someone tracks your performance, and you learn new skills.
Volunteer Work Resume Samples [Related Experience]
Let's say you're going for a software engineering job, and you've got little paid experience. Here's a great "how to list volunteer work on a resume" sample:
Software Engineer Experience
Meals on Wheels, Two Rivers, Maine Chapter
Wow. Like a job application from Wonder Woman. And you didn't even need a "volunteer" synonym. You've got relevant computer science work experience, even if they didn't pay you.
Will it impress the hiring manager? According to the data, there's an 82% chance it will. Now look what happens when you do your volunteer work on a resume wrong, as in this next community volunteer resume sample:
Oh oh. That's not how to include volunteer work on a resume. You're burying related work experience with irrelevant experience. But what about listing volunteer experience on a resume when it's not related to the job? Or when you've got a lot of paid experience?
You'll learn that next.
Pro Tip: Are you putting volunteer work on a resume as work experience? Name it that way. For example, "Hospital Experience," or "Accounting Experience." That way you don't need another word for "volunteer."
Not sure how to describe your volunteer experience on a resume? See our guide: Achievements to Put on Resume
When to Put Resume Volunteer Experience in a Special Section
Volunteering improves hireability, studies find. "We need to interview this one." Even unrelated community service on a resume can move you a big jump closer to the words above.
But you need to list it right. Put resume volunteer work in a special "volunteering" section if:
- It's not related to the job offer OR
- You've got lots of paid, related work experience.
Volunteer Resume Samples [Unrelated Experience]
Let's say you're writing a hospital resume. Here's how to add volunteer experience to a resume if it doesn't show related skills:
Since those aren't related volunteer jobs, you can't list them as experience.
However, they still show valuable qualities, like a service mindset, competence, and teamwork. To hiring managers, that's pure gold.
Pro Tip: Only 32% of applicants list volunteer work on a resume. Yet most managers prefer it. Put it on your resume, and you're in the top third of all job seekers.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
Don't be boring when you include volunteer work on your habitat for humanity resume. Spice up your speech with this guide: 80 Examples of Resume Action Words for Every Profession
How to List Volunteer Experience on Resume to Impress Recruiters
Picture a pile of 300 resumes. 90 will list volunteer experience. But only one will get the job. What will the other 89 do wrong? They won't put volunteer work on their resumes correctly.
You need to hook your resume volunteer experience to the job like a tow truck to a stranded car. How? By adding bullet points that turn your volunteer work into relevant experience.
Look how such resume volunteer examples are being made:
Volunteer Resume Samples [Bullet Points]
Watch how these bullet points turn volunteer work into real resume experience. Let's say you're going for a project manager job.
That's actually not terrible. It shows compassion, teamwork, and a service mindset. But show that church volunteer work on a resume with relevant bullet points, and look:
Related Volunteer Experience
See that? The details change generic volunteer work to 100 carat work experience.
Can't connect your volunteer work to the job no matter how much sweat you generate? I'll show you what to do about that next.
Pro Tip: Animal shelter experience or Habitat for Humanity resume experience all look great to hiring managers. Add relevant bullet points to make them even better.
Want to link your volunteer resume experience to the job description like a pro? See our guide: 6 Proven Tips on How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description
When to Leave Volunteering Experience off Your Resume
In a LinkedIn survey, 41% of managers said they've hired employees because of volunteering on a resume.
Volunteer work conveys things hiring managers love:
- A Service Mindset
- Interpersonal Skills
- Physical Fitness
- Customer Service
- Dozens of Specific Job Skills
So, never, ever leave volunteer experience off your resume completely. However, sometimes you should put it in an "Additional Activities" section. Got a ton of impressive achievements? Put volunteering in an "Experience" section.
Can't come up with bullet points that tie your volunteer work to the job offer? Put it as additional resume information in "Additional Activities."
Here's a sample of adding unrelated volunteer experience to a resume:
- Spoke on a panel about child development at the ICE Conference for teachers.
- Voluntarily work once a month as a driver for Meals on Wheels.
- My article on classroom management appeared in "Tween Teacher."
In that teacher resume example, Meals on Wheels experience fits best into an "other" section.
Pro Tip: Dig deep to find ways your volunteering shows job skills. Teachers need compassion, patience, and adaptability. Driving for Meals on Wheels delivers that.
Need to start from scratch and make a habitat for humanity resume with all the right bits? See our guide: How to Create a Resume 101: the Guide
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
Volunteering can stand out on a resume like Captain America's shield.
How to list volunteer work on resume:
- If you have it, always put volunteering on your resume. Hiring managers absolutely love it.
- If it's relevant, add volunteer work to your resume experience section.
- Toss in bullet points that Super Glue it to the job.
- If it's not relevant, or you've got lots of paid experience, include volunteer work on your resume in a separate section.
- If you don't have a lot of conventional experience, voluteering is a solid substitute and signal of worth.
Do you have questions about how to put volunteer work on a resume? Still not sure what volunteer experience on resume really counts? Give us a shout in the comments! We love to help!