This post is part of our Augment Your Resume series. We’re creating content that will help you upgrade the language, certifications, volunteerism, and projects sections of your resume.
A lot of candidates assume volunteerism is a cheesy and disingenuous addition for a resume that only recent grads and students need.
Maybe you have a similar experience to my own senior year of high school when everyone volunteered at Habitat for Humanity and we all arrived to discover we had no skills to offer, taking turns hammering one nail each or unnecessarily holding a ladder for stability on flat, level ground.
Because a lot of us have had experiences with these not-so-meaningful volunteerism efforts that our parents and teachers told us we must have to get into a good school, we’ve come to think they aren’t important -not only for our resumes but for our communities as well.
It’s simply not true!
Check out some of the reasons to invest in your Volunteerism section on your resume below and head on over to our Career Hacking course to learn the best way to format and present your experiences with our side-by-side videos.
It Gives You an Edge
A lot of employers are specifically looking for candidates with a history of volunteerism and see volunteering as a sign of leadership. Resumes that include a volunteerism section have an edge over other applicants (1).
Since a lot of applicants are thinking it doesn’t matter if they volunteer, that means there is a shortage of applicants that do include these experiences on their resume. Why wouldn’t you want to set yourself apart from the crowd?
It’s Good for More Than Just Your Current Job Search
If you choose your volunteer roles strategically and do something related to your field, you can grow your personal network and create more career opportunities for yourself (2). Volunteering is a great way to meet people and start relationships off on a positive note. You never know when you might meet someone who knows someone…you know?
It Carries More Cred Than You Would Think
Almost half of hiring managers interviewed view volunteer work as equivalent to full-time work experience (3). That’s a serious stat right there!
If you focus on finding a volunteer role that enables you to use your skills, you’ll reap multiple benefits for your do-gooding.
It Gives You the Best Excuse
Volunteering is also a great way to fill employment gaps (4).
When I was living in Sonoma County and new to the area, I needed a way to show that I was professionally active until I could bring on some clients for my freelance marketing practice. I was in the midst of meetings and building my network, but I needed something in between to build my profile and possible connect me to companies in the area.
That’s when I discovered a children’s educational content nonprofit and volunteered to create a social media strategy for them. The founder tried her best to connect me with other people in the area as well. I ended up volunteering my time to the organization for a couple of years and enjoyed every minute of it. I was actually sad when I became busy with Eazl and needed to part ways with them.
You can’t add volunteer experience retroactively, but remember this next time you’re in-between jobs or clients.
It Build Your References
You can use the people you volunteer for (and with) as references (4), as I mentioned in my previous point. Think about it: some of the nicest and most caring people volunteer in their free time. If you’re genuine, add value, and are kind to others in the organization, you’ll create relationships with people who will support you.
How to Add Volunteer Work to Your Resume
You might also find these additional resources helpful:
Handling Employment Gaps on Your Resume
How to Use the Template if You Have No Work Experience
Using the VISTA Career Planning Tool
Writing Great Resume Content for a Volunteer Position
(1) Here’s Why Your Should Put Volunteer Work on Your Resume
(2) 5 ways volunteering can help you find a job and advance your career
(3) 4 Ways Volunteering Can Help You Find a Job
(4) Why Volunteering is a Smart Career Strategy – And 6 Ways to Get Started
(5) Leverage Volunteer Work on Your Resume