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How to List Volunteer Work on Your Resume [+Sample]

Tom Gerencer
Guest Contributor
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How do you list volunteer work on a resume? We'll discuss now, but first:

 

Say hello to Jill, the hiring manager.

 

Nice Burberry eyeglasses.

 

She's using them to read a mountain of 300+ resumes. They all look the same.

 

What will your resume help to stand out?

 

Your volunteer work.

 

But how do you list volunteering on a resume? Just tossing it in anywhere won't work. Worse, it can backfire horribly.

 

This guide will show you:

 

  • How to list volunteer work on your resume.
  • Where to put related volunteer work on a resume for best effect.
  • Why unrelated volunteer experience must go in a special section.
  • How to include volunteer resume bullet points that prove you're perfect for the job.

 

Here's a sample resume with volunteer experience made using our resume builder.  

 

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you'll get tips and right vs. wrong examples while writing your resume. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.

 

example of a resume with volunteer work experience

Example of a resume with volunteer work experience - See +20 resume templates and create your resume here.

 

1

When to Include Volunteering in Your Resume Experience

 

Let's get back to Jill, the hiring manager.

 

She's read 247 resumes so far today. "Responsible for" is burned into her retinas.

 

Like 82% of fellow managers, she likes to pick resumes with volunteer experience listed.

 

She gets to yours. You listed volunteer experience (which she likes) but you did it wrong (which she doesn't).

 

Off to the reject pile with you.

 

Can you put volunteer work under work experience? Should it go somewhere else?

 

That depends.

 

Don't worry. There's a simple rule for how to put volunteer experience on a resume.

 

The best place to Include volunteer experience in your resume is the "work experience" section if:

 

  • It's very relevant to the job, OR
  • You've got very little paid experience, or a resume gap.

 

Volunteer Resume Samples [Related Experience]

 

Let's say you're going for a software engineering job, and you've got little paid experience. Here's a great "how to list volunteer work on a resume" sample:

 

right

Software Engineer Experience

Meals on Wheels, Two Rivers, Maine Chapter 

  • Held a volunteer position as a software engineer for Meals on Wheels chapter. Handled programming duties including web design and record keeping.
  • Developed front-end WordPress site and blog with 250+ pages.
  • Customized a web app to track all 1,047 delivery clients and 58 temp drivers.
  • Managed online ads to announce regular events and fundraising drives.
  • Worked with 70+ team members to produce creative, efficient solutions.

 

Wow. Like a job application from Wonder Woman. And you didn't even need a "volunteer" synonym.

 

You've got relevant computer science work experience, even if they didn't pay you.

 

Will it impress the hiring manager? According to the data, there's an 82% chance it will.

 

Now look what happens when you do it wrong, as in this next community volunteer resume sample:

 

wrong

Additional Activities 

  • In a weekly cycling group.
  • Volunteered for Meals on Wheels.
  • Write hospital blog articles occasionally.

 

Oh oh. That's not how to include volunteer work on a resume.

 

You're burying related work experience with unrelated experience.

 

But what about listing volunteer experience on a resume when it's not related to the job? Or when you've got a lot of paid experience?

 

You'll learn that next.

 

Anyways, once you finish writing your resume—make sure it will hook every recruiter and get you that interview! How? Get our free checklist and learn what makes a job-winning resume: 46 Things You Need To Do Before You Send Your Resume.

 

Pro Tip: Are you putting volunteer work on a resume as work experience? Name it that way. For example, "Hospital Experience," or "Accounting Experience." That way you don't need another word for "volunteer."

 

Not sure how to describe your volunteer experience on a resume? See our guide: Achievements to Put on Resume - Complete Guide (+30 Examples)

 

2

When to Put Resume Volunteer Experience in a Special Section

 

Volunteering improves hireability, studies find.

 

"We need to interview this one."

 

Even unrelated resume volunteer experience can move you a big jump closer to the words above.

 

But you need to list it right.

 

Put resume volunteer work in a special "volunteering" section if:

 

  • It's not related to the job offer OR
  • You've got lots of paid, related work experience.

 

Volunteer Resume Samples [Unrelated Experience]

 

Let's say you're writing a hospital resume. Here's how to add volunteer experience to a resume if it doesn't show related skills:

 

right

Volunteer Experience 

  • Volunteer once a month as clothes intake assistant at Goodwill.
  • Food prep volunteer 5x per year at local soup kitchen.

 

Since those aren't related volunteer jobs, you can't list them as experience.

 

However, they still show valuable qualities, like a service mindset, competence, and teamwork. To hiring managers, that's pure gold.

 

Pro Tip: Only 32% of applicants list volunteer work on a resume. Yet most managers prefer it. Put it on your resume, and you're in the top third of all job seekers.

 

Don't be boring when you include volunteer work on your resume. Spice up your speech with this guide: 80 Examples of Resume Action Words for Every Profession

 

3

How to Include Volunteer Resume Bullet Points to Prove You're Perfect for the Job

 

Picture a pile of 300 resumes.

 

90 will list volunteer experience.

 

But only one will get the job.

 

What will the other 89 do wrong?

 

They won't put volunteer work on their resumes correctly.

 

You need to hook your resume volunteer experience to the job like a tow truck to a stranded car.

 

How?

 

By adding bullet points that turn your volunteer work into relevant experience.

 

Look how that's done:

 

Volunteer Resume Samples [Bullet Points]

 

Watch how these bullet points turn volunteer work into real resume experience.

 

Let's say you're going for a project manager job.

 

wrong

Volunteer Experience 

  • Administrative volunteer for Lewiston Baptist Church.
  • Volunteer board member, Dodge County Animal Shelter.
  • Regular volunteer, local Red Cross chapter.

 

That's actually not terrible. It shows compassion, teamwork, and a service mindset.

 

But show that church volunteer work on a resume with relevant bullet points, and look:

 

right

Related Volunteer Experience 

  • Volunteer administrator for Lewiston Baptist Church for five years. Led three $20,000+ building projects, consistently coming in at least 10% under budget.
  • As volunteer board member for the Dodge County Animal Shelter, led a team of 12 employees to a transition to a no-kill operation.
  • Planned and organized three IT projects for the local Red Cross chapter.

 

See that? The details change generic volunteer work to 100 carat work experience.

 

Can't connect your volunteer work to the job no matter how much sweat you generate? I'll show you what to do about that next.

 

Pro Tip: Animal shelter experience or Habitat for Humanity resume experience all look great to hiring managers. Add relevant bullet points to make them even better.

 

Want to link your volunteer resume experience to the job description like a pro? See our guide: 6 Proven Tips on How to Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

 

4

When to Leave Volunteering Experience off Your Resume

 

In a LinkedIn survey, 41% of managers said they've hired employees because of volunteering on a resume.

 

Volunteer work conveys things hiring managers love:

 

  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • A Service Mindset
  • Compassion
  • Passion
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Self-Motivation
  • Honesty
  • Physical Fitness
  • Customer Service
  • Dependability
  • Dozens of Specific Job Skills

 

So, never, ever leave volunteer experience off your resume completely.

However, sometimes you should put it in an "Additional Activities" section.

 

Got a ton of impressive achievements? Put volunteering in an "Additional" section.

 

Can't come up with bullet points that tie your volunteer work to the job offer? Put it in "Additional Activities."

 

Here's a sample of adding unrelated volunteer experience to a resume:

 

Additional Activities

  • Spoke on a panel about child development at the ICE Conference for teachers.
  • Voluntarily work once a month as a driver for Meals on Wheels.
  • My article on classroom management appeared in "Tween Teacher."

 

In that teacher resume example, Meals on Wheels experience fits best into an "other" section.

 

Pro Tip: Dig deep to find ways your volunteering shows job skills. Teachers need compassion, patience, and adaptability. Driving for Meals on Wheels delivers that.

 

Need to start from scratch and make a resume with all the right bits? See our guide: How to Make a Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide (+30 Examples)

 

Key Takeaway

 

Add volunteer work to your resume so it stands out like Captain America's shield. Just follow these important tips:

 

  • If you have it, always put volunteering on your resume. Hiring managers absolutely love it.
  • If it's relevant, add volunteer work to your resume experience section. Toss in bullet points that Super Glue it to the job.
  • If it's not relevant, or you've got lots of paid experience, include volunteer work on your resume in a separate section.

 

Do you have questions about how to put volunteer work on a resume? Give us a shout in the comments! We love to help!

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Author
Tom Gerencer
Tom Gerencer is a founder and former owner of MediaNortheast Video Production and Training Without Boredom. A full-time writer in the fields of personal finance and career advice, Tom lives in West Virginia with his wife Kathy, two children and a couple of ornery dogs.