Guest Post by Mary Frenson
Volunteering can be a fantastic way to spend your time. You get to learn new skills, build friendships and, in return, enrich your community. Volunteering can make you feel really good about yourself, and as an added bonus, it can enhance your resume too!
When you have relevant experience as a volunteer, you’ll be able to leverage that to your advantage during your job search.
Here are some tips to consider when adding volunteer experience to your resume:
- Section it Out
A good resume is clean, straight-forward and well laid out.Structure and layout help the recruiter determine what your resume contains quickly. You should have contact details and an objective or mission statement mentioned at the top, followed by relevant work experience. Volunteer experience can be given its own section under work experience, as it’s essentially a different category of work.An exception to the rule exists for recent graduates — who may not have a whole lot of relevant work experience. In that case, you may want to place volunteer work in the same section as your work experience. It’s important to make a distinction, however, between paid and unpaid positions.
- Describe the Work
Although the work you do as a volunteer may be great fun — and sometimes may not even feel like work — it should have a place on your resume to highlight your accomplishments. Your resume’s objective is to get your application selected, so standing out by using the right wording is key.You might highlight that you “volunteer with a youth project where you play basketball on Saturday mornings.” This may not sound like a big deal because of how you’ve worded it. If the reason you play basketball “is to encourage underprivileged kids to interact in a more positive way with others, and help them overcome adversity they might be experiencing,” then your volunteer work begins to sound a lot more impactful. Choose your words carefully to help illustrate your experience.
- Make it Relevant
Recruiters want to know why they should consider you for a role. Convey why by matching your skills up to the job’s profile. List out any skills you may have acquired through volunteering, especially if they’re listed as requirements in the job description.Some large companies are actively involved in making a contribution to society. Take time to research which cause(s) they’re particularly interested in — or which nonprofit organizations they partner up with — and see if you’re able to align your volunteer experience with their interests.
- If in Doubt Leave it Out
We all feel passionate about different causes. Yet not all of us hold the same beliefs: volunteer work may be seen as controversial by some. For example, you may feel passionately about a specific political party or initiative, and you volunteer in your spare time to campaign in favor of it. That may come across negatively to your potential employer if they support an opposing party or disagree with the political initiative.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to spend your time. It shows companies you’re passionate, and that you are proactive about making a difference in the world and in your community. It also shows that you keep active in your daily life, while taking time out of your schedule to give back.
The next time you update your resume, ensure your volunteer experience puts you in the best possible light.
Author Bio: Mary Frenson is a Marketing Assistant at CheckDirector.co.uk, a new source of information on companies in the U.K. Mary is always happy to share her marketing ideas and thoughts on business issues.