How to Market Volunteer Experience in Your Job Search
Based on where you have volunteered and the kind of work you performed, volunteer experience can be a valuable addition to your resume.
Most job seekers are reluctant to add volunteer experience to their resume on the assumption that an employer would simply overlook it. Some even fear that including volunteer work would make it seem like they’re trying too hard to get the job.
But if you’ve done many hours of community service or volunteered at an organization for a charitable cause, it is important that you communicate this to an employer. With additional experience under your belt, you may stand a better chance of landing your target job position.
Here’s how you can market your volunteer experience:
Reflect and Categorize
Volunteering or community service work shows an employer that you are involved in your community and willing to dedicate time to a particular cause.
To make the most of this, list out all the places where you have volunteered and see if you can find any patterns or themes. This means looking through your list and finding the similar types of work that you have done across various organizations.
If you can show an employer that you have been actively involved in a particular field, this is sure to grab their attention. Instead of listing out each individual unpaid job, you can group together similar jobs so that you can tell a story to the employer.
Keep a Separate Section for Volunteer Work
Your unpaid work can’t suddenly pop up in the middle the job experience section of your resume. You will need to dedicate a separate, special section solely for volunteer work.
It is important to keep in mind your current position along your career path before filling out this section. If you’re a fresh graduate looking for an entry-level job, of course your resume will benefit greatly from listing your volunteer work. However, if you’re changing careers late in the game, you should include only your most recent exploits and keep the descriptions short and to the point.
Rewrite Your Roles
Now that you have decided where to list your volunteer work, figure out how to describe your experience in a way that translates to skills that will be of use in the corporate world.
If you helped to plan an event, instead of just writing ‘Event-Planning Experience’, you can probably describe the fundraising and time management skills that were required to get everything done effectively.
You can even think of non-technical skills that would benefit the organization. For example, if you have worked in a senior home, you could explain to the employer that patience, attention to detail, and excellent communication skills were required and demonstrated during the course of your volunteer work.
Make Sure It Counts
If you’re planning to include volunteer work in your resume, be sure that it will have significance to the organization you’re planning to join.
A good resume tells an employer that you are competent enough to handle the job you’re applying for. So, if you have done volunteer work that does not really relate to the functions of your target position, you will probably be better off leaving those particular items out of your resume.
These are just a few ways how you can include volunteer work in your resume. If you can obtain a certificate from the organization that you volunteered for, it can help supplement the information you provide in your resume. The most important thing is to show how volunteer work has made you a better person as well as a better fit for the position to which you are applying.