Including Volunteer Work on Your Resume

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As you complete each section of your resume, you’ll need to include the information your readers expect to see and exclude the extraneous or irrelevant details that won’t help managers make a hiring decision. For example, your “education” section will need to list your degrees and certifications, but most employers don’t need to see a list of every course you took while completing your academic program. When you reach the section titled “work history” or “relevant experience”, the same rule applies. You’ll want to list your relevant and recent position titles, and you can skip the jobs you held fifteen years ago while you were putting yourself through school or mowing lawns and babysitting to make ends meet.
But what about volunteer work? Should you list your volunteering gigs among your paid full or part time positions? The answer is simple: Yes. Here’s why.

Smart employers will appreciate and respect your broad focus.

Experienced hiring managers are typically attracted to well-rounded, well-grounded candidates with a life outside of the workplace and an interest in the world beyond themselves. Candidates with volunteering experience demonstrate time-management and priority management skills that usually forecast critical thinking and success on the job.

Volunteering suggests a strong work ethic.

If you’ve been on the job market for a while, some volunteering commitments demonstrate that you’re making the most of your available time instead of sitting on the couch. If you have free hands and you’re using them to build homes for the homeless, clean up streams, organize blood drives, or help those in need, you’re likely to pitch in when you’re needed at work.

Volunteering keeps rusty skills fresh.

Your volunteering work may not relate directly to your industry, but chances are, your engagements keep you connected and in circulation, and as you volunteer, you’re learning new skills instead of sitting still. Employers like to know that you’re picking up new tricks related to leadership, technology, communication, budget management, design, or industry trends.

Volunteering demonstrates flexibility.

Your volunteering gigs prove that you aren’t afraid to learn new things and expand your horizons. If your non-profit “employers” bear a connection to your industry, that’s great. But if they bear no connection at all, that may be even better. These entries show that you’re interested in stepping outside of your current education and comfort zones in order to help others.
Volunteering shows that you’re willing to take risks.

The fact that you were willing to commit your time and labor with no expectation of payment suggests that you’re willing to extend yourself a little for projects that matter to you.

For more on how your volunteering gigs can push your resume into the spotlight, contact the Little Rock job search and staffing experts at CSS.

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