Recruiters know that your volunteer experiences make you a better employee. They show you possess critical skills relevant for any role, plus that you’re a passionate person determined to contribute to your community.
So, the question isn’t: should you include your volunteer experience on your resume? It’s: where and how should you include it?
Keep reading to discover how to best present your voluntary work on your resume in order to impress recruiters and employers.
Most candidates should include their volunteer experience under the Career History section of their resume. However, in some cases, it may be worth including it in the Skills section or creating a Volunteering section at the end of your resume instead.
Include it in the Career History section if:
- It’s relevant to the role you’re applying for
- You’re at the start of your career
Create a Volunteering section if:
- Neither the work nor the skills involved are relevant to your career
- It would push other important information too far down your resume
Include it in your Skills if:
- The skills are highly relevant to the role you’re applying for, but the field or position isn’t
- It would push other important information too far down your resume
You want to highlight the value of your volunteer experiences while keeping the information concise. Remember, when it comes to writing a resume, less is often more. You also want to underscore how your volunteering work is relevant to your job application.
Include the name of the organization you’re volunteering with, your job title, start and end dates and key responsibilities. It should look like this:
Volunteering Organization Volunteer Job Title, Start Date – End Date
- Key responsibilities and accomplishments
Let’s break this down a little more.
Don’t just use “volunteer” as your job title. Be more specific: what was your volunteering role? The organization you volunteered with should tell you your official role, but if you didn’t have one, you could also use a phrase such as “Volunteer English Tutor” or “Graphic Designer (Volunteer).” Since many recruiters only look at job titles, this will better demonstrate the skills you used.
You should mention the month and year, but you don’t need to specify the day you started or finished volunteering. If you’re still in this role, you can write “present” for the end date.
Use bullet points to maximize white space and make it easier for recruiters and potential employers to skim-read your resume. (Most recruiters spend fewer than 8 seconds reading each resume.)
In general, more relevant and/or recent roles should have more bullet points. However, a good rule of thumb is to include between one and five bullet points maximum, with most roles having no more than three points.
You don’t need to include all your responsibilities, especially the ones that are less applicable to the job application. Include only the most relevant and impressive ones. Where possible, use the exact phrasing from the job listing. This will help if the company is using an applicant tracking system to filter out resumes that don’t include the skills in the job listing.
Try to also provide evidence for your accomplishments by including metrics or other quantifiable data. This will make your application more impressive and memorable.
While your volunteer experience resume entry should be customized to your personal experience and the role you’re applying for, here are some common volunteer experience descriptions that you can use. Don’t forget to adapt them to your background and add important details, including the organization name and your start and end date.
- Food Bank/Soup Kitchen Volunteer Resume Description
- Organized lines of 50+ people
- Treated visitors with empathy and respect
- Hospital Volunteer Resume Description
- Restocked supplies
- Supported medical staff
- Used people skills to talk with patients and help put them at ease
- Volunteer Vaccine Administrator Resume Description
- Administered vaccines
- Explained potential side-effects of medicine
- Confirmed patient identities
- Put patients at ease and demonstrated patient aftercare
- Helpline Volunteer Resume Description
- Used communication skills and phone skills to support callers
- Analyzed risk and made judgment calls about whether to alert emergency services
- Senior Companion Volunteer Resume Description
- Provided weekly company for a senior
- Used empathy and communication skills to build a relationship with the senior
- Showed disability awareness by supporting a senior in a wheelchair
- Environmental Volunteer Resume Description
- Organized community litter picking and beach cleaning
- Promoted environmental volunteering events via social media and flyers
- Designed marketing graphics for environmental volunteering events
- Volunteer Trainer Resume Description
- Coached disadvantaged youths, resulting in a 36% increase in A–C school grades
- Motivated trainees; maintained an 88% trainee attendance rate
- Developed a curriculum and learning materials
- Volunteer Fundraiser Resume Description
- Fundraised over $12,000 in annual subscriptions
- Designed fundraising and marketing materials using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign
- Peace Corps Volunteer Resume Description
- Provided hygiene, nutrition and HIV/Aids education
- Trained youths to be peer educators
- Created programs to support HIV-positive people
- Disaster Response Volunteer Resume Description
- Distributed medicine, blankets, food, tents and other essential products
- Helped ensure the safety of displaced people by stewarding camps
- Provided basic first aid
- Used French language to support and communicate with displaced people
- Provided an empathetic, friendly face
- Volunteer Event Steward Resume Description
- Checked ID and tickets
- Patrolled event and alerted security to issues
- Provided customer service by answering event attendees’ questions
- Controlled crowds to avoid overcrowding and safety issues
- Arts Volunteer Resume Description
- Directed an amateur theater group and coached actors on their roles
- Demonstrated people leadership by resolving interpersonal issues and motivating actors
- Organized three performances a year
- Marketed performances on social media and used sales skills to sell tickets
A well-written resume is key to job-hunting success. Not only will it land you more invites to interview, but you can use it to negotiate a higher starting salary and better work conditions. And no matter how much — or little! — experience you have, volunteer work can help you stand out from other applicants.
Make sure to fine-tune your resume so you’re highlighting the value of your past experiences, whether they were voluntary or not. You should also make sure your resume is machine-readable and professionally laid out.
Our volunteer resume templates will help you get started. They’re easy to customize to your background and come in a guaranteed machine-readable file format. What’s more, our resume builder will recommend the ideal structure based on your career history, along with recruiter-approved phrasing to describe your skill sets.
With our tools, you’ll find crafting a winning resume is easy. Plus, it takes just 10 minutes, so build your resume now.