3 Common Questions About Including Volunteer Work on Your Resume

A resume that lists volunteer work not only reveals  the skills and interests you’ve developed throughout your volunteer positions, but also shows that you take initiative to find work that you enjoy. Employers love to see that you are motivated by the chance to learn – not just by a paycheck.

Listing volunteer work on your resume also can add a lot of valuable information to your job history, especially for new job seekers or recent college graduates with short resumes. Volunteer positions can fill gaps in employment – so for students whose employment history is short, volunteer work can be an especially important addition to your resume.

But how do you include volunteer work on your resume? Check out these 3 frequently asked questions:

1. Should I include volunteer work along with paid experience on my resume?

Some resumes list volunteer work in a separate category from paid positions. But many students have only held volunteer positions, or might not have enough experience to warrant two separate sections.

Employers expect students, unlike more experienced applicants, to have volunteered in order to learn the ropes of the workplace. Because paid experience and volunteer work both offer students key opportunities for growth, feel free to put them in the same section on your resume when applying to your first job after college. Just make sure to be up-front about the nature of each job if asked.

2. What if I have no job title for my volunteer work?

Writing that you were a “volunteer” on your resume might be accurate, but it leaves employers wondering how your volunteer work experience applies to their workplace. Think of a title that represents the kind of volunteer work you did on the job.

Were you helping to file records or organize a new task force? Try “clerical assistant” or “project manager.” If you need help or are unsure about possible titles for your resume, ask your volunteer work supervisor to help you clarify your responsibilities.

3. How should I describe my volunteer position?

The volunteer work on your resume should show employers the important skills you learned. As with any job on your resume, the best way to describe volunteer work is to relate it to the job to which you are applying.

List two or three responsibilities of your volunteer jobs that demonstrate a knowledge of skills you can bring to your new workplace. If it’s clear that your experience helped foster some valuable abilities you will need as an employee, your volunteer work can be a key part of your resume.