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Volunteering on CV: Examples & Guide for 2024

Volunteering on CV: Examples & Guide for 2024

What’s one of the most common CV myths? That your CV should only focus on your experience. Here’s how to include volunteering - an often underestimated section - on your CV.

What’s one of the most common CV myths? That your CV should only focus on your experience.

Here’s a scenario: two CVs sit on a hiring manager's desk, both stellar, both for a single financial analyst position. Each candidate boasts top-tier education and experience.

The tiebreaker?

One CV features a volunteering section, where the candidate spent 30 hours teaching entrepreneurship in UK schools. This small detail becomes a game-changer.

If you’re wondering why, read on. If you’re well aware that the volunteering section made this key difference, but are not sure of what the best way to showcase your volunteering experience is, read on!

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Why adding a volunteering section to your CV is the best way to stand out from other applicants
  • How to properly highlight your volunteering experience on your CV
  • Why showing your commitment to an inclusive workplace by getting involved in volunteering can boost your chances of getting the job

Volunteering in university on your CV

If you were the kind of person to join all committees and societies which sounded at least vaguely exciting, you’d love to hear this could be added to your CV. It could also put you in the spotlight.

Recruiters know that volunteering can set the foundation for career success. To be precise, 34% of recent high school graduates share volunteering helped them get their first job.

In its essence, being a volunteer is ultimately making an effort to improve something and/or make an impact on other people’s lives without financial gain.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that engaging in such activities can make you more empathetic, but also more organised - because you need to juggle multiple responsibilities.

What’s more, academic volunteering also contributes to the process of gaining transferable skills. This is especially valuable for career changers or recent graduates who wouldn’t necessarily have many relevant hard skills to show off on their CVs.

Let’s look at some good examples of how recent grads and career changers have used volunteering in their CVs:

University Rep
Local Council
Represented the university in the local council and pushed forward various decisions that impacted the community
Global Shapers
Acted as the Chairperson of the London chapter of Global Shapers. Organised 7 events related to education, entrepreneurship, and gender equality which helped me gain valuable communication and organisational skills.

The area of your volunteering experience doesn’t really matter. It’s how you choose to talk about it that makes a difference.

Focus on the transferable skills you gained while volunteering. If possible, you could also link them to the job you’re applying for.

But what if you’re an experienced professional who has graduated years ago? Or maybe you’ve only volunteered as part of your job?

Workplace volunteering & DEI on your CV: A continuation of giving back

It doesn’t matter whether you have official ‘volunteering days’ or you go volunteering over the weekend. Engaging in this activity boosts your chances of getting your dream job by 27%. But why?

Firstly, volunteering with colleagues you already know can bring your relationship to another, more personal level. This promotes cooperation across teams and departments.

Secondly, volunteering lets you give back to the community for just one thing in return - your time. This shows recruiters that you’re a driven-by-impact individual.

But lastly, and most importantly, it shows you’re passionate about something outside your job. This highlights your multifaceted personality in a way no other CV section could.

And if we talk about DEI (diversity, equality, inclusion) activities, these don’t even need to happen outside working hours. They could take the form of bake sales, awareness-spreading events, and many more - all up to you.

While the activities you engage in adult volunteering could be much more different than school/university volunteering, there are some similarities. How you list them on your CV is one of them.

Generally speaking, the format of your volunteering section wouldn’t change. Here’s an example:

DEI Officer
Researching DEI best practices around the world and finding ways to apply them to our Dublin office. Activities include bake sales, inspirational interviews, and events, all aimed at spreading awareness around ways to address discriminative practices in the workplace

The approach this DEI officer chose to stick with is quite simple. To sum it up: begin with an action verb, list the activities you participated in, and describe your main goal.

You’d want to provide enough information while keeping things straight to the point.

Here’s another example, only this time it’s someone who chose to volunteer outside working hours:

Sea Turtle Conservation
Spent a month as a volunteer working with sea turtles in their nesting stage. Encouraged awareness among locals of the threatened species and how they could be protected.

This volunteering activity might not be related to the applicant’s work experience in any way. They might be working in finance, law, marketing, or just about any other industry.

And that’s totally fine. The primary goal of including volunteer work is to offer hiring managers a glimpse of your character, adding a personal touch to your CV.

But what if you haven’t done any volunteering? Can you just make up a story and lie on your CV? Well, we wouldn’t recommend that.

It’d be better to discuss your volunteering aspirations during the interview if faced with a good opportunity.

Key takeaways: Adding volunteering to your CV

The benefits of volunteering are undoubtable, regardless of whether you’re a recent graduate or an expert with years of relevant experience.

Talking about your volunteering experience can boost your chances of getting the job by positioning you as an empathetic, passionate, mission-oriented individual.

The volunteering CV section is also a huge opportunity to highlight your transferable skills, especially if you’re yet to find your first job.

And remember - using one of our CV templates would help guarantee that you submit a CV that’s both personal and professional. The perfect balance that could get you any job!

Make your move!
Your CV is an extension of yourself.
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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a CV expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He applies his deep knowledge and experience to write about a career change, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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