Mentioning Volunteer Work on Your Résumé

Nancy Anderson
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Volunteer work can be deeply rewarding to your personal life, but it could also help you land your next job. However, before rushing to fill your résumé with good deeds, be sure to know when you should include volunteer work and when you should omit it.

Although 89 percent of professionals have experience with volunteer work, only 45 percent include it on their résumés, LinkedIn has reported after a recent survey. Many job seekers don't regard volunteer work as being as legitimate as paid work experience, so they are hesitant to include it on their résumés.

However, many employers love to hear about job seekers' volunteer work, particularly if it is relevant to the role for which they are applying. For example, volunteer work in a hospice or care home could be beneficial when looking for a job in the health care industry, as it demonstrates your experience working with people who have serious health needs even if you weren't required to use your medical knowledge in the position.

Volunteer work can also sharpen professional skills and teach many soft skills that are in high demand among employers. For example, a simple volunteer job in a thrift shop could help you develop strong organizational skills and become a better communicator. If there is any way that your volunteer work has contributed to your growth as a professional, you should include it on your résumé.

When it comes to presenting the volunteer work, a good approach is to treat it in the same way as paid work. Use active verbs to describe your responsibilities in your volunteer role and be specific about what you do to make a contribution. You can either list volunteer work in a separate section of your résumé with the heading "Volunteer Experience" or include it as part of a general "Experience" section that contains details of both paid and volunteer positions.

The key to deciding whether you should include volunteer work is to consider how relevant it is to your career goal. You also need to look at it in the context of the other information on your résumé. For example, if you did volunteer work to fill a recent gap between jobs and learned some useful new skills, then you should definitely include it. However, if the volunteer work ended years ago and isn't relevant to your current career goal, think about removing it from your résumé to leave more space for describing your other experiences.

In general, including volunteer work on your résumé is a good idea. However, you need to make the best use of a limited amount of space, so think carefully about how to present your experience positively without crowding out more relevant professional experience.


Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at



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  • gloria b.
    gloria b.

    volunteer jobs

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