Volunteer Work IS Experience to Highlight on Your Resume

If you find that when you sit down to write your resume, it’s a little shy in the areas of work experience – have no fear, there are other things you can list such as: volunteer work with a charity, professional group or association, even volunteer work at your school or your child’s school.

Every day, millions of people do important work for which they are not compensated. This work can be as complex as medical missions to undeveloped countries or as simple as tutoring the child down the street. If you are one of the many people who give of their time without financial reward, it is important that you include your accomplishments on your resume.

At a recent training summit for a large nonprofit organization, I heard several directors lamenting the lack of respect their significant volunteer positions received in the working world. I was flabbergasted to realize that these women did not feel valued for their contributions to others, which included managing hundreds of thousands of dollars and writing lengthy manuals on subjects from communication skills to regional operations.

It’s all about the SPIN!

  • Perhaps you publish your weekly church bulletin with everyone’s announcements. This means you have some writing and layout abilities, as well as numerous work samples.
  • Maybe you’re the treasurer of your neighborhood home owners’ association. If you collect $300 in yearly dues from each of your 300 neighbors, then you manage a budget of $90,000—something many people in the corporate world will never do.
  • As a class mother at your child’s school, it may be your job to coordinate an out-of-state field trip for three classrooms of students and 10 chaperones. On your resume, this task would translate to event planning and travel coordination.

Many alumni associations offer graduates the opportunity to share their expertise with current students who need assistance with career planning. These types of mentoring activities involve public speaking and interviewing—so-called “soft skills” that are valued by many employers, particularly in sales.

In addition to volunteer activities, many people’s hobbies demand skills that are sought by employers.

  • Organizing a group on meetup.com requires knowledge of social networking and event planning.
  • A personal blog can demonstrate your writing abilities, (provided the content is appropriate for the eyes of a potential employer).
  • Maintaining the facebook page for your local running club exhibits your ability to connect people through social media. Given that less than a quarter of facebook users are over 35, an older hiring manager may be looking for someone who understands the “foreign world” of Internet communications.

Most people who volunteer do so by using abilities that come naturally to them. Almost all volunteer responsibilities require some kind of skill that an employer could use. Don’t be afraid to incorporate unpaid experience into your work history. College interns do it all the time! A close friend familiar with your activities can often help you reflect on your contributions to the community. If you’re feeling particularly uncertain about how to showcase volunteer experience on your resume, a professional resume writer can assist you with marketing your skills—all of them!

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is a professional resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, speaker and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates high-impact, best-in-class, resumes and cover letters that transform job searches into interviews and ultimately job offers. For more information about professional resume writing or to read more career and job search related articles visit http://www.greatresumesfast.com or call 1.800.991.5187.

Image Credit: Volunteer in Zambia, Travel Works.  For more information on traveling and volunteering abroad visit their site at http://www.travelworks.co.uk/