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How to List Volunteer Experience on a Resume in 2024

How to put volunteer experience on resumes. When to add volunteer resume work to work experience. How to list volunteer work on a resume to make employers notice.

Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Career Writer at ResumeLab
How to List Volunteer Experience on a Resume in 2024

You’re in a pickle.

You’ve got Gandhi-level achievements. But—They didn’t pay you. Don’t panic. Volunteer experience on resumes still counts as professional experience.

Here’s how to put volunteer work on resumes.

I’ll show you:

  • How to list volunteer work on a resume.
  • Where to put volunteer experience on resumes.
  • Good volunteer resumes samples you can use.
  • When to put volunteer work under work experience.

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1. How to Put Volunteer Work on Resume When It’s Major

The volunteer experience section is an element of your resume where you list the work experiences you performed freely and voluntarily. It's an excellent way to showcase your key skills, interests, and motivation.

And the most important thing:

Volunteer experience on resumes can get you hired. Deloitte surveyed 2,500+ hiring managers. Fully 82% said they prefer candidates with resume volunteering experience.

Why do volunteering resume achievements matter?

Just like regular work, they prove your skills. But how to list volunteer experience on resumes? And where to put volunteer experience on resumes?

Where to put volunteer work on a resume?

Put volunteer experiences on resumes in two places:

  • Put volunteer on resumes in work experience if it proves multiple skills the job ad wants.
  • Put minor volunteering experience on resumes in a separate section lower down.

Can you put volunteer work under work experience?

You can put volunteer work under work experience on one condition: if it fits the job you’re applying for. Does your resume volunteer work prove valuable skills the job ad wants? Then put it in your work history like a job description and add relevant resume keywords if possible.

This is also a valid strategy for job seekers creating resumes with no experience, or entry-level resumes. Volunteering allows them to show valuable, relevant experience, despite their lack of previous employements. Any teenager resume with volunteering experience will be more enticing than the same resume, without this section.

How to describe volunteer work on resumes?

To describe major volunteer work on resumes, list it like a job.

Add strong resume bullet points stuffed with professional achievements that show skills. Add numbers to prove just how powerful that resume volunteer experience was.

These volunteering resume examples show how:

Volunteer Experience on Resume—Example

Job ad wants skills in patient education, health screening, and patient interaction.

Good Example

Nursing Experience

Weekly American Heart Association Volunteer
Jan–Nov 2018

  • Conducted patient education for 10 patients per week.
  • Performed an average of 5 health screenings each week.
  • Commended by management 5x for excellent patient interaction.
Bad Example

Volunteer Work

  • Volunteer, American Heart Association.

The first of those how to list volunteer work on resume samples sizzles. It proves you’ll get the job done.

Expert Hint: When putting volunteering resume work in work experience, call it that. Say web design experience or legal experience. Then you don’t need volunteer synonyms.

2. How to Include Volunteer Work on Resume When It’s Minor

Some volunteer work isn’t central to the job. Maybe you walked dogs for a local shelter. Maybe you helped with a bake sale.

That volunteer resume experience can still impress. But don’t list it as work experience.

How to list volunteer work on resumes when it’s minor:

  • If you have lots, put it in a volunteering section below Experience.
  • If you have little, put it in an Activities section.

Either way—

Show achievements tied to skills in the job ad.

See these volunteering experience on resume examples:

Minor Volunteer Experience on Resume—Example

Job offer asks for skills in leadership, collaboration, and record keeping.

Good Examples

Volunteer resume example #1 [If you have lots]:

Volunteer Jobs

  • Church volunteer. Led team of 25 community fundraisers that raised $5,300 for charity.
  • Animal shelter volunteer. Collaborated with 18 out-of-state rescues to save the lives of 4,800+ dogs and cats.
  • Nursing home volunteer. Kept records on 153 patients for 2 years with 100% HIPAA compliance.

Volunteer work on resume example #2 [if you have little]:

Activities

  • Homeless shelter volunteer. Led 5 volunteers in cleaning and resupplying rooms.
  • [Other non-volunteer activity]
  • [Other non-volunteer activity]
Bad Example

Volunteer Experience

  • Church volunteer.
  • Animal shelter volunteer.
  • Nursing home volunteer.

The first of those how to list volunteer work on resume examples is Gates-Foundation-worthy.

It proves skills the employer wants. And why is the last volunteer work resume example ineffective? We have no idea what that candidate did when volunteering. Were they helping directly? Did they handle the fnancing side? Or maybe they developed a website? All of these prove vastly different skills. Always be specific.

Expert Hint: Don’t list every piece of volunteer experience on resumes. If you’ve got more impressive feats, save the resume real estate for them instead.

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3. What Counts as Volunteer Experience on Resume

Anything you do for free counts as volunteer resume experience.

That includes work for blood drives and soup kitchens. It also means pro bono work or helping an ailing parent. The better the cause, the better the resume volunteer experience. Use it to show accomplishments that fit the job offer.

These how to list volunteer work on resumes examples show how:

Volunteer Experience Examples

Job ad wants skills in planning, training, and leadership. 

Good Example

Stroke Rehabilitation Volunteer Work

Oct–Dec 2009

  • Helped my father recover from a stroke. He was unable to move or talk. In two months he drove his own car 2,100 miles to stay with his brother.
  • Created a plan of 4 extra therapy hours per week, including speech, writing, occupational, and physical therapy.
  • Trained him in basic tasks like reading a clock, shopping, cooking meals, and driving his car.
  • Led team of 4 siblings to take turns watching him until he was 100% independent.
Bad Example

Volunteer Position

  • Helped father recover from a stroke.

Wow.

The first of those volunteer experience on resume samples is Oprah-style.

What Counts as Volunteer Work

  • Pro Bono Work is when you voluntarily work in a professional sense. It uses specific job skills, so it’s great volunteer experience on resumes.
  • Hospital volunteer resume work can show healthcare abilities. It also proves skills for resumes, like teamwork and compassion.
  • Church volunteer work on resumes can show leadership and organization.
  • Animal Shelter volunteer resume items like walking dogs shows compassion and work ethic.
  • Nursing Home volunteer duties on resumes can show teamwork, record keeping skills, and more.
  • Homeless Shelter volunteers are good collaborators and communicators. Both are excellent resume skills.
  • Library volunteer work on resumes proves strong organization skills.
  • Helping an ailing parent can be listed on a resume as volunteer work. (See the resume volunteer experience sample above.)
  • Student volunteers can be coaches, tutors, or blood drive helpers. All show skills working toward a common goal.
  • Blood Drive volunteer resume items prove common skills like teamwork and compassion. They can also show phlebotomy and documentation skills.
  • Child Care volunteering experiences on resumes look best for child care jobs. They also show transferable communication and collaboration skills.
  • Daycare volunteer experience resume bullets work best in daycare resumes. They also prove general skills like organization and problem-solving.
  • Food Pantry volunteer experience on resumes can prove interpersonal or organization skills.
  • Goodwill volunteer on resume proves retail experience and physical fitness.
  • Hospice volunteer work on resumes can show compassion and specific healthcare skills.
  • Parent volunteer resume positions include assisting teachers, coaches, and organizing fundraisers.
  • School volunteer work builds interpersonal and collaboration skills.
  • Basketball Coaches who voluntarily work have leadership and training skills.
  • Habitat for Humanity volunteer work on resumes shows collaboration and construction skills.

That’s not all the volunteer experience in the universe. Any help for free makes good volunteer work on resumes.

Should you put community service on resumes? That term has a negative slant. It’s often given as a punishment. Call it volunteer experiences on resumes instead.

Expert Hint: :Should I add a cover letter?” By all means you should. Why? Over 80% of recruiters who participated in our study say cover letters matter to them.

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Key Points:

Here’s a recap of how to volunteer experience should be included on resumes:

  • Show volunteer resume items as work experience if they show multiple achievements. Also if they prove essential skills shown in the job ad.
  • Put volunteer work on resumes in a volunteer section if it’s minor but you’ve got a lot. That is—if it doesn’t prove multiple skills shown in the job ad.
  • Put resume volunteer experience in an activities section if it’s minor and there’s little of it.
  • When listing community service on resumes, call it a volunteer position instead. That dodges the dodgy criminal connotation.

Still not sure how to put volunteer work on resumes? Need more tips for showing volunteer experience on resumes? Leave a comment. We’re happy to reply!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Volunteer Work on a Resume

How much volunteer experience should be on a resume?

The amount of volunteer experience to include on a resume can vary based on your career stage. If you have limited experience, you can showcase a significant amount of volunteer work. As you gain more relevant experience, you should rank paid work experience over volunteer work on your resume.

Does volunteering go under experience on a resume?

Volunteering can be included in the "Experience" section of a resume if it proves multiple skills the job ad wants. But most of the time, it should go under a separate "Volunteering" subsection. There, mention the organization, your role, the dates you volunteered, and your professional achievements.

How to list volunteer work on a resume?

Provide details for each volunteer position: the organization's name, your role, and the duration of your work. Outline your achievements using bullet points. Quantify your impact wherever possible. Tailor your volunteer experiences to align with the job you're applying for.

Does volunteering look good on a resume?

Volunteering is beneficial for your resume for several compelling reasons:

Where to put volunteer work on a resume?

If your volunteer experience is relevant to the job you're applying for, create a separate section for it. Title it "Volunteer Experience," "Additional Activities," or "Community Involvement." This section typically follows your work experience section.

What volunteer experience to put on a resume?

Here are some volunteer positions that will boost your resume:

  • Roles in nonprofit organizations
  • Disaster relief or humanitarian aid
  • Environmental or conservation initiatives
  • Healthcare and medical volunteering
  • Community outreach and advocacy
  • Sports coaching or youth development
  • Animal welfare

Focus on relevance and impact when determining which volunteer experiences to include on your resume. Pick experiences that enhance your qualifications and align with the job you're applying for. Consider the resume skills the employer seeks and identify volunteer roles that prove them.

Should I include volunteer work on a resume?

When crafting a resume with no experience, creating a targeted resume that aligns with the specific job you're applying for is crucial. Volunteer work can play a crucial role in this context, showcasing your transferable skills and dedication to gaining relevant experiences.

Tom Gerencer, CPRW

Having published over 200 career-advice articles, Tom Gerencer is a career expert who covers the whole array of job-seeking topics for people at all career stages, from interns to C-suite members. His insights, commentary, and articles reach over a million readers every month. With inside knowledge of key industry players and in-depth research, Tom helps job seekers with advice across all professions and career stages. Tom holds a degree in English from Colby College.

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