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Should you include volunteer work on your resume?
Yes, you should include volunteer work on your resume if it’s relevant to the job you want or if you lack formal work experience. Listing volunteer experience on your resume is a great way to demonstrate to employers that you’re hard working and involved in your community.
In fact, according to a LinkedIn survey, one out of five hiring managers in the U.S. agreed that volunteer experience was a factor in why they hired a candidate.
Listing volunteer work is especially important if you:
- Have limited paid professional experience, like if you’re still a high school or college student.
- Are transitioning careers and have volunteer experience that’s relevant to your new career.
- Have a gap in your resume
- Want to highlight leadership skills that you haven’t yet developed through your professional career.
However, if you already have years of relevant work experience or if your volunteer work isn’t related at all to the position you want, then it’s best to leave it off your resume.
How to list volunteer work on your resume
To see how we recommend listing volunteer work on a resume, check out our video below where our career expert Eva discusses six different kinds of relevant experience for your application:
Volunteer work should be listed on your resume using the same format as your work experience section. In other words, you should include the organization you volunteered for, its location, the time frame, followed by a bulleted list explaining what you accomplished while volunteering there.
Depending on whether you’re a student, a fresh grad, or a more seasoned professional, you’ll also want to make sure you’ve chosen the right resume format first. Selecting the appropriate resume format will allow you to highlight your most important relevant information and show that you know how to make a resume stand out from other candidates’.
Here’s an example of volunteer experience on a resume:
Volunteer, Cranford Food Distribution Center, Cranford, NJ
May 2020 – Present
- Trained 5 new volunteers, helping them develop a strong commitment to community service.
- Helped prepare food and dish out meals to over 200 people per day.
- Planned and organized two successful fundraising events, which raised the food bank over $2,500 in total.
However, if your volunteer experience isn’t highly relevant to the job you want, list it on your resume using a shorter format.
For example, here’s how you can include volunteer experience on your resume without taking up too much space:
Big Buddy’s Reading Help, Volunteer
June 2018 – January 2019
- Tutored grade school children in Los Angeles in reading comprehension.
Where to put volunteer work on a resume
Depending on the type of volunteer experience you have, there are two places on your resume to list it: your experience section or in a dedicated volunteer-work section.
If your volunteer experience is highly relevant to the job you’re applying for, you should include it in the work experience section of your resume, alongside any paid positions you’ve held.
In your experience section, include three to four bullet points highlighting the skills on your resume that you picked up from your volunteer work, and any notable accomplishments. And be sure to add hard numbers to these bullet points to show hiring managers exactly what you achieved as a volunteer — the more numbers, the better.
Here’s a sample showing how to list volunteer experience in your experience section:
If you have volunteer experience that’s not especially relevant to the job you’re applying for, list it in a separate section on your resume labeled “Volunteer Experience,” “Community Service,” or “Additional Activities.”
Include a sentence briefly describing your volunteer experiences under each entry. These sentences should be kept short, as you don’t want to focus too much of your resume on experience that isn’t directly relevant to the position.
Here’s an example of how to list volunteer experience in a dedicated section: