How to Write a Volunteering Resume That Will Stand Out in 2018

How to make your volunteering resume great:

Volunteer work is a great way to build leadership and communication skills. Even though it’s usually unpaid, the best volunteering opportunities still require you to apply with a strong resume. In general, your next volunteering resume should:

  • Show why you’re the right candidate
  • Show passion for the position you’re applying for
  • Be specific when describing your skills and previous positions
  • Include more than just professional experience

Now that we covered the basics, let’s dive into more details. Aside for advice on the content, you’ll also find real-life volunteering resume examples from Enhancv users who got hired at great volunteer jobs.

Best Volunteering resume examples by users who got hired

How to write a volunteering resume

Choose the right position

When searching for a volunteering position, chances are you’ll find too many. And the more options you have the more difficult making a decision becomes. In such situations, you should always keep your future in mind. Ask yourself: “Which one of these projects would help me in my future career?” Think about the skills and type of experience you’d like to acquire and your decision will be a bit easier.
Now that you know what you’re applying for, it’s time to think about creating your volunteering resume.

Think about the organization hiring you

To be frank, too many resumes are all about the person on the resume. That may sound odd, but the resume isn’t ultimately for you, it’s for the recruiter or HR person hiring you. So think about them, their challenges and what they’re likely looking for in a hire. Make sure you take this information into account at every step of creating your resume.

Include a strong Summary

The summary section sits right at the top of your resume and it’s usually the very first thing a hiring manager or recruiter sees. It’s important to grab their attention right there. To write a strong summary, the first step is to look into the volunteering opportunity. What skills or passions would be required for it. Write down all the keywords you can spot. Then pair these with your own skills and experience and add it to your volunteering resume.
Steffany’s resume used a summary section to show why she’s transitioning from working in healthcare to pursuing an iMBA, a great example of what a summary can do.

Resume Section

Quantify your results wherever possible

The way traditional resumes taught us to describe our professional experience is old-fashioned. For years we’ve been taught to describe our experience as a list of responsibilities. Reading job descriptions which frame roles as responsibilities, it’s no surprise we automatically think our experience should reflect that. But what’s much more important for a potential employer to see is your impact.
So, instead of saying you were “responsible for organizing events,” explain how many you organized, how many people usually attended, and what the result of your involvement was. Say “Helped organize over 20 events with 100+ attendees, and received a 98% happiness response from attendees.” Recruiters really notice the difference.

Resume Section

Focus on the skills that are relevant for the role

When you’re writing your volunteering resume, keep the potential employer and their requirements in mind at all times. Do your previous positions make sense for the industry they’re in or the role they’re hiring for? You can always think of transferring your skills from one industry or a job to another. Here are some examples of transferable skills you can apply to your next volunteering resume:

  • Listening
  • Communication
  • Time management
  • Research & analysis
  • Proficiency in a foreign language
  • Problem-solving
  • Customer service
The key here is to choose 2-4 skills and describe situations you used those in. Instead of explaining what each skills mean (which anyone can find on Google), describe a situation and its outcome while you used the skill.

Top 6 sections perfect for a volunteering resume

As it is with any other resume, there are certains things hiring managers want to see. When it comes to volunteering resumes, we chose the top 6 sections which will have the biggest impact. Keep in mind that every position and project is different, so take your time when choosing the best fit for yourself.

1. Life philosophy
2. Experience
3. Most proud of
4. Books
5. Personal information
6. Passions

1. Your Life philosophy

Do you have a quote that defines you well? Something that fits to the way you think about work and life itself. If so, don’t hesitate to add it in your volunteering resume. A simple sentence like this can show so much to your potential employer. Things like motivation, attitude, and character shine through. Especially for a volunteering job this section can work really well.

Resume Section

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2. Your Experience

This is the “bread and butter” of every resume. As a volunteer, keep in mind that this section doesn’t only need to include your paid jobs. This is every professional experience you have, including volunteering, side projects, or internships.
Steffany showed her extensive volunteering experience in a section she called “global impact”.

Resume Section

3. What you’re most proud of

This section might seem a bit unusual at first but it tells employers a lot about you. When writing it, think about the moments in your life that have changed you, or were difficult to overcome. Anything from moving to a foreign country through, failing a startup, to coming out of the closet. These are the moments that have changed you or helped you to learn a lesson. When describing them, mention what skills or impact each had on you.

Resume Section

4. Your favorite books

Similar to a philosophy section, including your favorite books which have shaped your thinking is a quick way to help a recruiter understand you better. Especially, if you include books that are perfect for volunteers, such as Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists or Don't Just Count Your Hours, Make Your Hours Count. This will show your potential employers that you like to learn about volunteering, activism, and creating social change.

5. Personal information

It may seem easy enough to include personal information on your resume, but there are a few tricks you probably aren’t aware of. Here are the best practices for all:

  • Your name
Use your first and last name, leave the middle name out. Also, rename all your social media accounts with the same name you use on your volunteering resume. This way, it’ll be easier for hiring managers to find out more about you. (And trust me, they will want to check all your profiles out!)
  • Your address
It’s not necessary to include your full address on your resume - nobody will be writing you a letter. So unless they require it, include the city and state or country only.
Make sure your email is with a well known provider and consists of your first.lastname. Drop the childish names you used to create your very first email. You’ll come across as unprofessional.
  • Your personal website or a Linkedin profile
If you have a website or a good linkedin profile, include a link to it. This way hiring managers will be just a click away from getting to know you better.
  • Photo
IMPORTANT: Some countries do not allow including photo on a resume. Before you put it on, do your research and see whether it’s accepted in the country you’re applying to.

6. Your passions

When it comes to your passions section, include 2-3 of your most favorite things to do. To make it more specific, describe what is it that makes you happy when you do what makes you passionate. To keep it balanced, include a passion that’s directly connected to the volunteering job you’re applying for.

Resume Section

How to get a referral on LinkedIn for the volunteering role you want

Applicants who rely solely on their resume to get an interview have less than a 2% chance of getting an interview. At the same time, the sales industry is downsizing (in the US). As you can see, it’s important to give yourself the best shot possible at getting hired. This includes leveraging personal connections to get referred to a job.
So before you start applying for a new sales role, check your 1st and 2nd degree contacts in both LinkedIn and in any other relevant groups you may belong to. If you don’t have strong connections in the industry you’re looking to establish yourself in, start making them now!
Check out our complete guide to getting job referrals for more actionable tips.

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