Volunteering work is any work that you do with no pay in return. You can include volunteer work in your resume while applying for a new job, especially if you have little prior work experience.
Some people often need clarification about whether they should include volunteer work in their resume because they need to be aware of the several benefits of doing so.
Including volunteer work can make you stand apart from the rest of the applicants because you acquire a very different type of work experience.
Volunteer work not only teaches one essential skill but can also be a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. Even if some job applicants need to gain adequate experience, only a few include volunteer work on their resumes. That is because they had probably never participated in any such activities.
However, those who have done volunteer work before not only have knowledge and experience regarding their tasks but have also managed to work on their networking and communication skills.
This is because volunteer work often involves community-driven programs, an excellent way to learn about tasks in specific sectors one wishes to participate in in the future.
Hence, include it in your resume if you have volunteer work experience. And if you don’t have any, you can always take some time out for volunteer work, which will teach you some valuable lessons.
Is Volunteer Work Considered Work Experience?
Yes, volunteer work is considered work experience, provided you can relate your work to the job that you are applying for. It can help when you are just starting and have little prior work experience.
Combined with any internship program, your volunteer work will show that you try to use your time productively both in and outside your workplace.
Moreover, even if you have been working for some years now, participating in some volunteer work from time to time shows that you care deeply about the community and you devote some hours to its development.
These are remarkable qualities, and an organization would love to have an employee who strives to work for everyone’s benefit. If your volunteer work has helped you acquire new skills, then even better!
Why Including Volunteer Work on Your Resume Will Benefit You?
There are several ways in which including volunteer work on your resume will help you. It will show prospective employers that you are not only passionate about your work but also aim to have a fulfilling and enriching life.
Here is why you should include volunteer work on your resume.
1. You Like Working at the Grassroots
Volunteer work mainly involves working with the community. You could be working with a charitable organization or an NGO. Or you could have helped the local parish organize a food drive or might have helped a local business find some customers.
Whatever the scope of work, you had been involved in working with the people who form society’s building blocks and have enthusiastically shouldered responsibilities without any pay.
This is an admirable quality, and it will show you are willing to engage with people from every stratum of society. It showcases your inclusive nature, which is very much an asset in modern workplaces.
2. Continuation of Your Higher Studies
Sometimes, you could have opted for voluntary work to continue your higher studies. For example, suppose you are an aspiring veterinarian and have volunteered at an animal welfare organization after obtaining your medical degree in veterinary sciences. In that case, that will be considered a huge advantage.
It means you have not only read about animal health and behavior but have also studied them from close quarters and have worked with them.
It will be the same with pretty much any other field, and having some hands-on experience after completing your higher studies will look good on your resume.
3. You Can Show Your Transferable Skills
As a volunteer, one is often asked to take up any job in non-profits and NGOs. That means you can acquire experience in a wide range of work, which often showcases your flexibility and adaptability.
You can use the knowledge from the volunteer work for your future endeavors.
4. Talk About Your Passion
Everyone talks about something they are passionate about in their resume, and this is something that can give your prospective employer an insight into who you are as a person.
However, unlike some of the hobbies you mention, taking up volunteer work is meaningful and provides you with more enriching experiences. That is because it is not just about yourself, but because of all the lives you have managed to touch and improve in the process.
It also shows that you are passionate about some area of work that can help you when you are actively employed.
5. Explaining Work Breaks
If you have a gap in your resume, writing about volunteer work for that period is an excellent way to explain the gap. It is all right if you want to take time out and unwind.
However, with your volunteer work, you can show that you were productive even during a work break. This makes your employer see you as a determined person to do their best and shows particular regard for work ethics and values.
It also shows that you were still in touch with some form of work, which is very important in a competitive job industry.
What Kind of Volunteer Work Should You Put on Your Resume?
While you can put any volunteer work on your resume, including those that will help you further your career makes sense. It can add a lot of value and make your resume different from the rest. Here are some points to keep in mind while adding volunteer work experience.
1. Add Relevant Work Experience
While adding volunteer work to your resume, add the kind of work that has some relevance to the job you are applying for.
For example, if you want to work for an event management company, writing about your volunteer work at a homeless shelter will not help, although it is a noble cause.
However, if you write about your experience managing local school food drives, that could be beneficial. Try to customize your volunteer work in such a way that it manages the job description in some capacity.
2. Do Not Add One-Time Jobs
If you have done volunteer work for a short time, do not include them in the resume.
Adding odd one-time jobs like helping out at the local store for the holiday week or reading to elderly residents of nursing homes during weekends for a month will not help if you are pursuing a corporate job.
If you have not been at it for a very long time and more is needed to garner much experience, then you should leave it out of the resume.
3. Add Volunteer Work That Needs Skills
Certain kinds of volunteer work are essential, but they only need a little skill. Babysitting for free at a local orphanage, feeding strays with the help of animal shelters, or taking food and clothes to the homeless are all noble works. However, it does not necessarily require much skill.
However, if you could say that you had been a part of a team that organized a charity auction for the homeless or you devoted certain hours at the local public school to teach the orphan children for free, it would show you have organizational skills and teaching skills, respectively.
That would give you considerable leverage when you apply for jobs that require these skills.
How Can You Add Volunteer Work to Your Resume?
You can add volunteer work to your resume in a variety of ways. Here are some of the ways of including it.
1. Linking it to Academics
You can add your volunteer experience as a part of your academics. This would be a great idea if you started your volunteer work soon after completing college and if your job was connected to your higher studies.
For example, you volunteered at a local dressmaker’s store to design and tailor clothes for the drama at the community carnival right after you got your diploma in fashion design. That would be relevant to your field and connect to your higher studies.
2. Creating a Dedicated Section
You could create a dedicated section for it if you have been involved with multiple volunteer work. Make sure you start with the one that is the most recent and most relevant to the job role you are applying for.
It would be best if you also listed the names of the organizations you had volunteered for, the duration of volunteer work, and in what capacity you volunteered for the organization. Be sure to mention any skills you learned during your work.
3. Listing it Under Interests
Another way of including volunteering work in the resume is to include it under the interests section. This would show your employer that you like to unwind by working for the community and taking an active interest in working for community benefit.
This would be particularly useful if you want to work in a sector working for the environment, human rights, animal welfare, or sustainable living.
Even corporate giants take their Corporate Social Responsibility very seriously nowadays, so adding volunteering work to your resume will be your advantage.
4. Making it a Part of the Personal Summary
You can include volunteering as a part of your summary. You could use it to describe yourself.
For example, you can talk about how you are passionate about improving social justice or ensuring food for all. You have taken up these issues by volunteering for organizations working towards the cause.
Since many companies are keen to hire employees interested in a diverse range of extracurricular activities, including volunteering as part of the personal summary will show that you identify yourself as a person who is interested in things outside the regular workspace.
Many job seekers often wonder if they should include volunteering work in their resumes or not. If you already have years of work experience behind you and have other things to write about, you can skip that bit.
However, suppose you have graduated or have yet to complete a year in the industry. In that case, you can use your volunteering work to your advantage and use it as work experience.
Even people with years of experience can do so to make their employers see them from a different perspective, which is rare these days. Hence, you can be sure that you can never go wrong by adding volunteering work to your resume, and you should do so with pride.