Resumes & Cover Letters

How To List Volunteer Work on Your Resume (With Example)

March 12, 2021

Key takeaways:

  • Including volunteer work on your resume can help employers learn about your interests and experience—especially if you have limited professional experience.
  • You can include volunteer experience in your professional experience section, skill section or in a separate volunteer section.
  • Include keywords from the job description that connects your volunteer experience back to the role.

The goal of writing a resume is to quickly show employers you are a great fit for the job. Adding information like your skills, professional experience and education can help convey why the employer should advance you in the hiring process. Another section you might consider adding is volunteer work. Listing volunteer work on your resume can help employers understand your interests, skills and support resumes with little to no professional experience.

Resume Format
Image description

Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
2. Summary or objective
3. Professional history
a. Company name
b. Dates of tenure
c. Description of role and achievement
4. Education
5. Skills
6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

The benefits of including volunteer work on your resume

There are several reasons why you may want to include volunteer work on a resume:

Volunteer work may also be beneficial for anyone applying to work in industries where such work is highly valued, such as non-profit organizations or positions in academia.

Use the following tips and examples to learn how to list volunteer work on your resume.

Related: 10 Great Sabbatical Ideas

How to prepare your resume

When writing your resume, there are a few key sections you should include:

Name and contact information

Remember to select a professional email address. Information like your professional portfolio link or mailing address is optional.

Professional experience

Include keywords from the job description and measure your impact at each organization with numbers, when possible.

Education

List your most recent institution and any relevant certifications and/or awards. If you don’t have extensive professional experience, include relevant coursework.

Key skills and qualifications

This is another opportunity to list any requirements the employer included in the job description. Think of skills that make you uniquely qualified for the job.

Optional sections and resume formats

You can also include optional sections like volunteer work, awards and achievements, and interests and hobbies. There are a few different resume formats you have to choose from depending on your background:

  • If you have extensive professional experience, this section should always come first in a chronological resume format.

  • If you have gaps in your professional history or do not have any work experience, consider expanding your skills section and placing it under your name and contact information in a functional resume format.

  • If you have a few years of professional experience and relevant skills, the combination resume format might be right for you.

Related: 11 Ways to Achieve Career Advancement

How to list volunteer work on your resume

1. Include examples of volunteer work in your professional experience section

If you have extensive professional experience, you should include only the three to five most recent and relevant jobs. If you have little or no professional experience, consider adding volunteer positions to your professional background section.

After you’ve included key work experiences and internships, list relevant volunteer experience under your professional history section. Format your volunteer work using the same structure you used for previously held jobs, but make sure you identify your role as “volunteer” along with any additional titles held like management or leadership positions. For example:

Food Bank of West Philadelphia
Volunteer Shift Manager, June 2016–Present

  • Organize and managed food pantry operations resulting in a 10% decrease in spending
  • Train volunteer base on managing the food shelves
  • Create, organize and manage shift calendar for over 100 volunteers

Related: 7 Reasons to Consider Volunteering

2. Connect your volunteer experiences with your skills

If you gained or improved important skills through volunteer work, include these skills and developments in the volunteer work description. Pay attention to any skills that may also be important to your potential employers.

3. Create a separate section at the end of your resume for unrelated volunteer experiences

If you have volunteer experiences that are unrelated to your industry, you might consider including a brief volunteer work section at the bottom of your resume if you feel it will set you apart from other candidates or provide helpful context for employers.

For example, if in your company research you find that the employer values hiring and supporting employees with a rich life outside of work, it might be helpful for them to learn about your contributions to a certain non-profit organization that you are passionate about. Another example might be that you started volunteering for a certain cause at a young age that eventually informed your decision to study a certain topic in college or pursue a certain career.

To do this, create a new section at the end of your resume and include your volunteer experiences. While you can format this section the same as your professional work experience section, you can also write a shortened version that takes up less space.

Here is an example of how you might write a shortened volunteer work section:

Volunteer work: ASPCA of Phoenix, Intake Manager, Jan. 2016–May 2019 | Big Brothers Big Sisters, June 2017–Present

Tips for listing volunteer work on your resume

1. Revise your resume for each job application

You may need to tailor your resume to each employers’ required skills, traits and qualifications. Create a personalized version of your resume that works best for each job and matches each job posting by studying the job description. You should also research the company by visiting their Company Page, website and any recent press releases.

2. Include keywords from the job posting

Carefully read each job posting for which you intend to apply. Identify keywords used in the job posting, especially those under the qualifications and required skills and experiences sections. Understanding the employer’s ideal candidate can help you when deciding whether to include a volunteer work section and how you should position it.

For example, if the employer expresses interest in candidates with strong organizational skills, you might take a moment to consider specific times during volunteer work you successfully executed this quality. You should also use this information when writing your skills and professional experience sections.

3. Only include volunteer work when needed

Volunteer work can help provide additional support for a resume that lacks valuable work experience. However, if you have extensive work experience to list that is relevant to potential employers, it may be best to leave volunteer work off of your resume.

Adding volunteer work to your resume may mean sacrificing some resume space for professional work experiences that are more directly connected to your career goals. Employers only spend a few seconds on each resume, so consider carefully whether adding volunteer work will be as beneficial as your professional experience.

Related: 16 Great Ideas for What to Do After College

Volunteer work on resume sample

Here is an example of a resume that includes both related and unrelated volunteer work.

Michael Johnson
Las Vegas, Nevada • (123) ​456-7891
m.johnson@email.com

Summary
A conscientious and skilled public servant with experience providing quality patient care.

Skills
Key nursing skills include: Advanced Cardiac Life Support systems • Acute Care • Case management • Advanced knowledge of medication administration • Compassionate • Critical thinker • Organized • Responsive

Professional Experience
Johnson Medical Center, Nurse Practitioner
August 2010—Present

  • Worked directly with patients to provide advanced services
  • Handled multiple patient loads
  • Assisted head nurse in organizing work schedules for nursing staff

Doctors Without Borders, Volunteer
June 2008—August 2009

  • Volunteered to provide patient care in Malawi
  • Helped treat infectious diseases
  • Provided educational courses to local residents on disease prevention

Education
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
August 2007—May 2008
M.S.N, Acute, Primary and Family Care Nursing, 4.0 GPA

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
August 2003—May 2007
B.S., Nursing, 3.75 GPA

Volunteer Experience
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Volunteer
January 2004—January 2005
Volunteered as a big brother to several participants
Offered mentoring, comfort and care

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