Can Volunteer Work Build Up Your Resume?

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

Imagine this: You’re fresh out of college and looking to land your first full-time job. For the time being, your resume isn’t getting much traction. What should you do?

One way to help your career prospects is to volunteer. Volunteering has several benefits, mainly that it helps people contribute to a cause they believe in. But volunteering also boosts your job prospects more than you may think.

If you volunteer in an area you’d like to work, you’ll be able to learn new skills, beef up your resume, network in a low-key way, and possibly even land a job with the organization you’re helping.

Volunteering is great for your career and beneficial to the community – and it also has many other positive benefits. People who volunteer make new friends and develop more emotional stability. The Corporation for National & Community Service even said in 2007 that people who volunteer more than 100 hours per year are some of the healthiest folks in the U.S.

Empire Resume will discuss the benefits of volunteering for your career, as well as how to list volunteer work on your resume and what types of volunteer work employers’ value the most.

Benefits of Volunteering

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

Most people know that giving to others is a sure path to happiness. However, you may not be aware of the multitude of benefits of volunteering.

Volunteering helps you make a noticeable change in the community or an issue that’s important to you. It also connects you with others, leading to new friendships and better social skills. Lastly, volunteering has been known to combat depression, loneliness, and anxiety.

If you want to land a job, volunteering can help with that, too, especially if you’re new in the workforce, changing careers, or in between jobs.

Many volunteer opportunities offer extensive training, which gives you the chance to learn valuable skills. By volunteering, you can try out a new job or career without making a long-term commitment. Plus, organizations might take you on for volunteer work even if you don’t have experience doing the types of work they’re looking for. Usually, passion and commitment are the only requirements.

Other career benefits of volunteering include:

  • Networking. Awkward happy hours and professional conferences aren’t the only ways to network. Volunteering offers terrific networking opportunities. You’ll get a chance to meet like-minded people who are passionate and engaged in what they do.
  • Refining career goals. A great benefit of volunteering is it’s a low-pressure way to learn more about yourself and the type of work you enjoy. Depending on your career goals, pick a volunteer opportunity that allows you to explore areas you’ve always been curious about.
  • Increased confidence. Volunteer experience makes you a more well-rounded person and job candidate. Through volunteering, you’ll have a wider professional network and new skills, which will certainly lead to increased confidence.

How Volunteering Boosts Your Resume

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

We just listed a few ways volunteering boosts your job prospects. Listing volunteer work on your resume will also grab most hiring managers’ attention. As more companies today value social responsibility, hiring managers are increasingly looking for candidates with valuable volunteer experience.

About 86% of hiring managers surveyed by Deloitte in 2016 said volunteer experience makes a candidate more competitive among a pool of job seekers. Interestingly, the managers said in the same survey that only about 30% of the resumes they regularly view list volunteering.

Job seekers may have a misguided idea that volunteer experience isn’t valuable in the eyes of hiring managers. Nothing can be further from the truth.

About 92% of managers told Deloitte in 2016 that volunteering expands employees’ skill sets, and 82% of the managers said they’d be more likely to choose a candidate that lists volunteer work on their resume.

Companies value volunteer experience because it makes you seem more well-rounded and compassionate. It also conveys you have even more skills than the ones you use at work, and you’ll be a positive representative of their company in the community and online world.

Great Places to Volunteer

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

Now that we’ve determined volunteering boosts your career, which places are the best to volunteer at? It depends.

Most any type of volunteer work will look good on your resume. The point is to follow your passion and chip in with an organization you believe in. Let your heart be the guide.

Some types of volunteer opportunities available most everywhere include:

  • Animal rescue shelters. Local animal shelters are always in need of volunteers, and the types of work to be done varies from answering phones and emails to other clerical duties. Many people who volunteer at animal shelters end up landing dog-walking jobs, too, which can pay well.
  • Food pantries. Food pantries and soup kitchens are another common place always in need of help. Like animal shelters, there are countless ways to help a food pantry – and not just by handing out hot meals. You could also help organize a food drive, raise money, or lend a hand with copyediting or data entry skills.
  • Habitat for Humanity. This is an extremely popular organization that makes a big difference in local communities. If you’re good with home repair and handy with tools, you may really enjoy it.
  • Retirement homes. Many retirement homes look for volunteers to help the elderly with errands, delivering meals, or simply stopping by and keeping them company. If you have any specific skills, you could design a class or play music for the residents, too.

Taking a Strategic Approach

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

When it comes to volunteering, the possibilities are endless. There are ways to be more strategic in thinking about volunteering your time, too.

Some nonprofits can’t afford to pay for big projects they’d like to tackle, such as redesigning a website or launching a social media campaign. Nonprofits will sometimes look for people who can do this work pro bono (unpaid).

If you have the time and can afford to work pro bono, doing so can be a great experience and a way to bolster your resume and portfolio. Be realistic on the deadlines, scope of the project, and how much time you can dedicate, and then work something out with the nonprofit.

For example, if you’re looking to learn something new about social media marketing, taking on a pro bono project helps you learn new things, improve your resume, and possibly add an impressive project to your portfolio. Plus, you’ll make new professional contacts, and it could even lead to a job.

Becoming a charity or nonprofit board member is another strategic volunteering idea. Every nonprofit has a board of directors, which are the governing body that approves budgets, oversees organizational policies, and more.

Serving as a board member comes with a lot of responsibility, and it’ll be time-consuming. It’s a great experience, though. You’ll learn a ton about fundraising and project management, and it’s an excellent way to network.

Where Should You Volunteer?

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

Before committing to a volunteer project, take a step back and consider what you’d like to do and what you have to offer. Like looking for a job, it’s crucial to find a match that fits your interests, goals, and personality.

Be realistic about how much time and effort you can commit. If the gig is too demanding, you may burn out from it – no matter how altruistic you think you are. Also, know what you have to offer. Some opportunities may sound great, like working at a soup kitchen, but if it doesn’t truly appeal to you and fit your personality, that’s okay.

Remember that, nowadays, volunteering can be done virtually, too. Given the current pandemic, virtual volunteering may also be a safer bet. When thinking about volunteer opportunities, don’t limit yourself to your local community. Many national and even global organizations are looking for help you could do from your computer.

Look for places that let you interview before you commit. Nonprofits that take this step are usually more organized and could be better to work for. An interview also gives you the chance to determine if it’s a good fit.

While you could do a simple Google search for places to volunteer at, several websites can help. Websites dedicated to nonprofits and volunteering include Idealist.org, VolunteerMatch.org, and TaprootPlus.org (for pro bono work).

How to List Volunteering on Your Resume

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

We already discussed why you should list volunteer experience on your resume. In fact, if you’re looking for a career in the nonprofit world or at a philanthropic organization, they may expect you to have volunteer work listed.

There are a few strategies for how to list volunteer experience on a resume. If you’re new to the workforce, consider listing volunteer work with the rest of your professional work.

If you do this, make sure it’s clear the experience was as a volunteer – and not a paid employee. Otherwise, list what you’ve done as a volunteer like how you’d list job duties or accomplishments for paid jobs.

Ensure that you list relevant skills learned while volunteering and anything you accomplished. For example, if you worked as a volunteer shift manager for a food bank, you could mention something like “trained fellow volunteers on managing the food shelves” or “helped reduce spending.”

Another idea is to list volunteer work at the bottom of your resume, after professional experience and education. Even if the volunteering isn’t relevant to the job you’re applying to, it’s still smart to list it.

Volunteering Helps Your Career

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

Consumers are pressuring companies more today to engage in corporate social responsibility. In other words, people want businesses to make meaningful contributions to the local, national, and global communities.

Perhaps because of this, companies and hiring managers look for job applicants who list volunteer work on their resumes. In the eyes of a hiring manager, a job seeker who volunteers is someone who’s compassionate, possibly more skilled than the competition, and engaged with their community.

Don’t underestimate how valuable volunteering is in helping you land a job. It bolsters your resume, expands your professional network, and can help you gain useful skills. With a little luck, it could even directly lead to your next job.

The experts at Empire Resume can help you emphasize your volunteer experience on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Contact us today at 801-690-4085 or info@empireresume.com.

Bookmark Empire Resume’s blog in your web browser and read up on key career topics like LinkedIn profile tips for when you’re unemployed, how to write a killer cover letter, and job hunting during a recession.

Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

Listing Volunteer Experience on Resume

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