The American Bureau of Labor Statistics records that over 60 million Americans engage in volunteer activities each year. Such a huge number would include a lot of potential job seekers. Some even participate in volunteer jobs to have something to showcase on their resume. Many are however not fully aware of the right way to include volunteer work on their resume. This guide provides all you need to know about including volunteer work on your resume.
Why you need to
You might be wondering why you need to provide information about unpaid work when seeking a paid job. It should interest you that many hiring managers do not share your misgivings. A Deloitte study of 2506 hiring managers in the United States concluded that 82% of the managers surveyed expressed the preference for applicants who have engaged in one volunteer work or the other. Comparing this value to the 32% of job seekers who include the information in their resume (as reported by the same study) shows many job seekers have been getting it wrong. Volunteer works are a great avenue to showcase vital skills and traits such as teamwork, leadership skills, etc., qualities all hiring managers are after. Including them in your resume serves to convince the employer that you possess these qualities and significantly increases your chances of landing the job.
Who needs to?
While including volunteer work is a good idea for most job seekers, it is undoubtedly more important for some than others. Volunteer work is especially important for recent graduates who have limited to no professional experience. People who have significant gaps in their employment history and individuals who are seeking jobs in an industry that is completely unrelated to the previous job. If you, however, possess enough relevant work experience and you do not have large gaps in your employment history, including volunteer jobs may not be so important.
Where do you include it?
This would depend on the relevance of the volunteer job to the employment you currently seek. If the volunteer work relates to the job, you might include it under a ‘Related experience’ section. If the reverse is the case, you may create a separate category for volunteer work. Ensure the volunteer experiences included project your positive attributes. Both sections typically come after contact information, introduction and work experience or education sections.
What to state
You may not need to provide full details about your volunteer experience. It is important you do not skip valuable information either. As implied earlier, an entry level applicant is, for example, writing more about volunteer experiences. If you volunteered for many different organizations, stating all the organizations may not be a bad idea. Especially if you did not take up or were not assigned prominent roles. If, however, you held a top position in your volunteer group or organization say the head of fundraising, you should focus on your roles and achievements during the volunteer experience.
What not to state
Job seekers are advised to state if the volunteer experience was for a political, religious or any other organization that is regarded as polarizing. This is to avoid discrimination in case the hiring manager has opposing views. Although discrimination on such basis is prohibited under the law, reports about the act still abound. A divided opinion exists on this issue. Some argue that volunteering shows your political or religious affiliation and should not be hidden.
Including your volunteer work is a way for the prospective employers to get a peek into your personality and strengths. Ensure the experiences included demonstrate character, leadership skill, and teamwork. Bring your volunteer experiences to life on your resume. Use active verbs and be specific about your roles and notable achievements.