Volunteer Experience: Impressing Employers with New Skills

volunteer experience

Can volunteer experience really help you get your next gig?

Volunteering between gigs tells employers that you care about something other than making money. In fact, in a survey of over 3,000 hiring managers, sixty percent said that volunteering made candidates more marketable.

But there are still do’s and don’ts while gaining volunteer experience.

Today, we’ll give you a few tips about what kind of volunteering you should do. We’ll als show how you can sell volunteer experience in your resume.

Build Skills Through Volunteer Experience

Students and other early-career individuals and those who have been out of the workforce can build modern job skills through volunteering. You learn new job skills to be sure. But volunteering also demonstrates the positive career ambitions that employers seek. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, volunteer work signals soft skills creativity, reliability, and motivation.

Volunteer In Your Intended Field

One problem new or returning job seekers face? Finding networking opportunities and getting noticed at their dream organizations. Volunteer experience in your field, or, even better at your ideal organization, can help on both fronts.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), volunteering in your field offers improved skills and more experience. It can also help you to form social connections. The study also noted that people who volunteer at organizations where they want to work have an advantage. As expected, their chances of being employed permanently (and with pay!) at that organization increase, as well.

Include Volunteer Experience on Your Resume

You don’t have to a have a separate heading on your resume titled “Volunteer Experience.” Instead, a resume volunteering section can be incorporated into a subheading titled “Experience,” rather than one explicitly listed as “Professional Experience” or “Paid Experience.”

Under this broader heading, list the skills learned or experience gained in your volunteer work. No need to separate the skills earned and accomplishments achieved in jobs.

Consider a Hybrid Resume Format

Most resumes are either chronological, listing work history from oldest to newest. Or they might be functional, highlighting skills and experiences. A hybrid resume format borrows from both structures. Specifically, it begins with a skill set listing and then moving onto a chronological work history.

This formatting method is particularly appealing in highlighting volunteer-related job skills. List skills learned in a volunteer experience in your skills section. Follow that with your long-term volunteer commitment in your “Experience” section. The best part: again, no need to differentiate “volunteering” from any other relevant resume experiences.

No matter which resume format you choose: first run your position’s job description and your resume through Jobscan’s resume optimizer. The optimizer tells you if you’re using the skill-related keywords that applicant tracking systems (ATS) look for in choosing which candidates possess the desired skill sets.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Jobscan.




???????????????????????????????About the Author: James Hu earned his bachelor’s of Information Systems and Finance from University of Washington. He is currently the Founder and CEO of Jobscan. James has also enjoyed work experiences at Boeing, Microsoft, Groupon, Kabam Games, and a start-up of his own. Having already worked in the United States, China, and Spain/Gibraltar, James truly integrates a global mindset into his career. In his free time, he enjoys water sports and backpacking. Follow James on Twitter.



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