Volunteer Experience on a Resume: How to Impress Hiring Managers With Volunteering

This guide provides comprehensive instructions on when and how to effectively include volunteer experience on your resume, highlighting its benefits and relevance to the job you're applying for, as well as demonstrating your initiative, interpersonal skills, and alignment with company culture.
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Astley Cervania
Updated
April 13, 2023

Well done for giving back to the community! 

Here’s a few reasons why hiring managers would appreciate seeing candidates like you with volunteer experience on a resume:  

  • It shows initiative: volunteering implies that you’re motivated enough to take action when it comes to self-growth and positive goals or objectives. 
  • Interpersonal skills: volunteer roles usually involve teamwork, which indicates that you’re able to work well with others. 
  • Transferable skills: you may have developed relevant problem-solving and leadership skills that’s applicable to the role you’re applying for. 
  • Personal values: volunteering gives hiring managers insight into your interests and values beyond work experience.

Now the only hurdle is writing about this on a resume effectively to highlight each of these different things. So in this guide, you’ll learn how to put volunteering on your resume as well as when and when not to write about it. 

When to Include Volunteering on a Resume

We’ll go through 4 times when you should write about volunteer experience. 

You Have No Work Experience

Having limited to no work experience is a common reason to write about volunteering. Not only is it effective for showing that you’ve prepared yourself for transitioning into a new career, but it also shows that you’ve developed a set of transferable skills. 

It’s Relevant to the Job Responsibilities

Volunteering experience that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for is impressive because it can be seen as work experience. Moreover, it demonstrates passion and a genuine interest in the field since you were doing unpaid work. 

Fill Employment Gaps

Volunteering is a good way to close the gaps in your work history. It helps you show to hiring managers that you were still actively working during that period. 

To Show You Align With the Company Culture

Highlight how you align with the company culture by showcasing your values. Though you may have developed relevant skills, you can also use volunteering to write about soft skills and leadership abilities

When to Not Include Volunteering on a Resume

Now, we’ll go through 3 times when you should reconsider writing about volunteer experience. 

You Have Extensive Work Experience

Prioritize relevant work experience over volunteering. Employers are more interested in your technical skills and professional work history, especially when you’re applying for a management or executive-level position

Other More Relevant Resume Sections 

Volunteer experience is ideal for when you have limited work experience in the field you’re applying for. However, you may have other things to write about that are more relevant to the job position or internship role such as:

  • Projects
  • Certifications
  • Coursework

You're better off leaving out the volunteer resume section when it's outdated or not as relevant compared to another resume section that could showcase more of technical skills. 

You Already Have 2-3 Volunteering Roles Listed

Even on a student resume, aim to list no more than 2-3 volunteering positions. This is to keep the main focus of your application on relevant hard skills that’s required for carrying out the main job responsibilities. 

The only exception here is if you’re listing volunteer work for the work experience section (if this is the case, these should be directly links to the job responsibilities).

How to List Volunteer Experience on Resume

In a nutshell, here’s what you need:

  • An optimized resume format
  • Header of volunteer job position
  • Subheaders on the essential details
  • Description of volunteer responsibilities

Let’s go through each step. 

1. Format the Resume Section Header

Use a professionally formatted resume section that makes the header and subheaders stand out. This means having:

  • Bold text for the headers
  • All caps text for the headers
  • Bold text for the volunteer position subheader
  • Lining 
  • Professional resume font

Without having a resume that’s easy to read through, hiring managers may skip past certain details. 

Here’s an example below.

Involvement section

2. Complete the Header

The header could be named as one of the following:

  • Projects
  • Involvement
  • Volunteering
  • Volunteer experience

Or as mentioned earlier, you could be writing about your volunteer role under the work experience section. 

It’s good practice to make the headers stand out so readers can easily navigate through your resume. This is why you’ll notice that all of our best ATS-optimized resumes use bold text as well as all caps text for the headers. 

3. Enter the Subheaders

Under the main header comes the subheaders. This includes the important details regarding your previous role such as:

  • Volunteer job title
  • Organization
  • Start and end date of work
  • Location

Here’s how this looks from the inside when creating a resume using Rezi

involvement section

And here’s how it looks after filling in the provided fields. 

Volunteering experience

4. Describe Your Volunteering Experience Properly to Impress Hiring Managers

Describe what you did during your time of volunteering including job responsibilities and the skills you applied. Write about it as if you were writing about a previous job in the work experience section. 

Here’s 5 of the best practices to follow when writing about volunteering to impress the hiring manager. 

Focus on the Results

Highlight the outcomes gained as a result of your efforts. Describe the job responsibilities you carried out and what your contributions led to. This showcases your skills far more than just saying what you did or the skills you developed. 

In other words, highlight your impact by showcasing what you helped the organization accomplish.

Be Specific By Using Numbers

Make yourself look good on your resume by being specific about the job responsibilities you carried out. For instance, mention the number of people on the team that you worked with – see the example sentences below and notice the difference when it comes to showing the impact you’ve made:

  • Coordinated and led a team of volunteers in organizing a fundraising event.
  • Coordinated and led a team of 15 volunteers in organizing a fundraising event that raised $10,000 for a local non-profit organization.Being specific about your responsibilities is impressive because it emphasizes the difference you’ve made and shows that you’re results-driven. 
Use Powerful Action Verbs

The first word of most or if not all your bullet points should be an action verb. Why? Because it puts you as the main focus of the sentence, meaning it puts your actions on the spotlight. 

Aside from getting straight to the point, it also adds personality to your resume and makes it more engaging to the reader. 

The only other thing to keep in mind is to not over exaggerate. Pick the right words. 

Transferable Skills 

Focus on showcasing hard skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. 

Although volunteering is a good sign of a candidate’s character, it’s even more interesting when the experience is related to the job posting in terms of technical skills. If not, no worries – it’s still good to showcase soft skills. 

Mention Resume Keywords

Include resume keywords naturally. Refer to the job description to see what type of abilities, knowledge, and traits the company desires in the ideal candidate. 

On that note, try using Rezi’s keyword targeting tool. Instead of spending hours researching the company going back and forth, Rezi will give you a list of keywords based on the company’s job description. 

Where to Add Volunteer Experience on Resume

There are 3 different places to put your volunteering experience on a resume: 

  • Volunteering resume section
  • Work experience section
  • Relevant additional resume section

Volunteering Resume Section 

Create a separate section dedicated to your volunteer work experience. Follow the same steps as discussed earlier for listing volunteering. 

Work Experience Section 

You can include your volunteer role in the work experience section by listing and describing it as if it were a normal job position. Here’s an example below. 

Experience section

However, it’s not as common to mention volunteering in the work experience section because employers expect this part of your resume to be a list of previous corporate roles. The only exception here is when you're creating a student or internship job application.

Relevant Additional Resume Section

An additional resume section could be one of the following:

  • Projects
  • Involvement
  • Extracurricular activities 

In each section, include the following details as subheaders:

  • Volunteer position
  • Location
  • Organization
  • Start and end dates of work

From there, use bullet points to describe your job responsibilities and the skills you applied. But if you’d like to put more emphasis on quantity, omit the bullet points and make a list of volunteering positions you held in the past.

7 Common Examples of Different Types of Volunteer Work

Here’s a few examples of different types of volunteer work that you could put on a resume:

  • Church volunteer
  • Community service
  • Animal welfare
  • Fundraising and charity work
  • Hospitality service
  • Sports associations
  • University societies and school clubs

Is It Worth Writing About Volunteering Experience?

Yes, especially when you have no professional experience in the job you’re applying for.

Everyone starts their career somewhere. More importantly, volunteering shows that you’re someone who takes initiative and is able to commit. It also shows that you’ve taken steps to prepare yourself for the role by developing transferable skills as well as getting experience in carrying out assigned tasks and responsibilities. 

Red Flags to Avoid When Listing Volunteer Experience on a Resume

There are some situations where volunteering can be seen as a red flag on a resume such as:

  • Including a long history of volunteering without paid work experience. This indicates that you perhaps lack the necessary skills for a particular role.
  • Including volunteer work over other resume sections that you could write about which are more relevant to the job responsibilities.
  • Showcasing no transferable skills. 

3 Resume Examples With Good Volunteering Experience

Didn’t see your job position listed below? No worries, try checking out our resume library here – we have over 300+ ATS-friendly resumes available! 

Management Student Resume

management student resume

Network Engineering Intern Resume

network engineering intern

Third Year Student Resume

third year student

Create Powerful Bullet Points About Your Volunteer Role in Less Than 60 Seconds

Generate bullet points that follow the best resume writing practices when describing your volunteer experience. 

However, to follow this process, you’ll need a Rezi account – sign up here to get started for free.

  1. Enter your volunteer job title. 
  2. Write the name of the organization you volunteered for.
  3. Mention the start and end date of your role
  4. Include the location. 

See below to see this looks from the inside.

Volunteer experience
  1. Press “Generate Bullet”. 
generate bullet point
  1. Either press “AI writer generate” to rewrite the bullet point or if you’re happy with it, feel free to use the suggestion.
rewrite bullet point

Volunteering Sends the Right Signals

Volunteer experience on a resume is generally a green flag to employers because it shows you’ve taken the extra step to help others without expecting anything in return. Not only does this show that you’re a compassionate human being, but it also hints at your work ethic. 

Outside of that, volunteering is a great way to build up your career. 

Follow the steps in this guide and you’ll have a well-written and well-formatted volunteering resume section. And if you’re struggling with writing the bullet points, Rezi’s AI resume writer is here to help.

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