Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
VOLUNTEERING / AUG. 15, 2016
version 8, draft 8

How to Include Volunteer Work on Your CV

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Volunteer work can be a valuable asset in your job search, so make sure that you include it when creating your CV. Here’s how to include it in your CV!

Being a volunteer and doing charity work are admirable activities and if you’ve ever volunteered you should be proud of yourself. But aside from the altruistic benefits of being a volunteer, you should know that being a volunteer can be great for your career as well.

In fact, some employers will view your volunteer experience as proper work experience which can be extremely helpful if you are a recent graduate who hasn’t had many or any jobs. Moreover, if you’ve been unemployed for lengthy periods of times and you’ve worked as a volunteer during that time, this can also assist you in getting a job.

But, you should be mindful of the fact that being a volunteer doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get any job you want. To get the job, you need to know how to make the most of your volunteer work on your CV, and the article below will help you do that.

Why Is Volunteering Good for Your Career?

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Before we delve into how to leverage your volunteering experience, it’s important to understand why volunteering can be great for your career. You were probably told this when you were at school, and you probably used it in your university application, but do you actually know how it can benefit your CV?

The reason employers think volunteer work is great is that it speaks to someone’s character and attitude to life in general. If, for example, you used to volunteer and you’ve tried your hand at different things it shows that you’re willing to try new experiences. It also shows that you’re self-motivated, which is an essential asset for all employees. It shows your willingness to take initiative and make things happen which proves that you have all the soft-skills an employer could hope his or her employee to have.

Moreover, volunteer work is important as it can help you acquire hard skills as well. If, for example, you used to help a charitable organisation with their accounting you can definitely use that in your past work experience section as it's relevant even if it was unpaid. So, volunteer work can help you apply for any job you want even if your paid work experience falls short of the job requirements.

How to Use Volunteer Work On Your CV

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Of course like most things you can’t just randomly add volunteer experiences to your CV and hope for the best. The way your volunteer work goes onto your CV should have a purpose so that it makes sense to the hiring manager.

Only Add Volunteer Work that Helps You Highlight Your Best Qualities

It’s important to be selective when adding volunteer work to your CV so that you come across as focused and to the point. You want it to look professional, and to do that you need to avoid including information that’s irrelevant. For example, if you’ve ever volunteered to run an event, and you’re applying for an accounting position there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to demonstrate how the two relate. So, it might be best if you don’t include it in on your CV.

The key to making volunteer work count when building your CV is to add work experience that helps you highlight your best qualities. To do that, start by going through the job description again and decide what the ideal candidate for the position would be like and jot down the skills that you should focus on. Then add any volunteer experience you have that can help you highlight those skills. This will result in a well put together CV that will enable the hiring manager to see that you are what they are looking for.

It’s also important to make your volunteering experience appear as skill-centric as possible. You shouldn’t focus on the organisations you’ve helped or which other companies these organisations work with; you should focus on what you gained from the experience. Sure, being a person who wants to help charitable causes and being an altruist is great, but when it comes to job search, competition is fierce and nobody is going to hire you just because you’re a great person. You need to prove that you can do the job and that is why you should focus on the skills you’ve acquired from your volunteer work.

Target Your Potential Employer

You probably know this by now, but you should always customise your CV according to the position and company you’re applying. This means that before you do anything else you should start by reading through the job description carefully and making a note of all the skills and qualifications required for the position. You should then figure out how your CV can cater to those needs and carefully make adjustments to your CV and the language you use so that it is compatible with the job description. Similarly, when adding volunteer experience to your CV, you should take account of the potential employer.

If for example, you are applying for a position with a company that’s interested in charities then you should make sure to include a lot about your volunteer experience (for example if you helped run a fund-raising event you can even say how much money was raised). If on the other hand, you can’t find anything that indicates that the organisation has ever supported a charity you may want to focus on the skills that you’ve acquired from your volunteer work.

It’s important to thoroughly research the employer before sending your CV because their attitude towards volunteering and charities should be reflected on your CV. There’s no point in focusing on how much you love giving if the organisation does not have the same attitude. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to volunteer, it just means that you should think twice before making something like that the focus of your CV.

Be Mindful of What You Include

It’s also important to be careful of what you add to your CV. For example, it’s always a good idea to avoid touchy issues such as religion or politics. You don’t want your volunteering work to cost you your dream job, and although you should do what you like with your spare time, it’s important that you’re careful when it comes to your professional future.

Also, make sure that you use active verbs and be specific. Don’t just include generic stuff like ‘leadership qualities’, explain how you’ve acquired those skills and make sure that you quantify your accomplishments. If you led a team, for example, say how many people were in that team as this makes your CV sound more professional.

How to Include Volunteer Work on Your CV

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To use your volunteer work so that it makes your CV seem focused and determined it’s important to list it correctly. And this means spending some time deciding exactly where on the CV you’re going to include volunteer work.

If you have experience that’s completely relevant, you can include it in the ‘Related Work Experience’ section of your CV. Even if it was unpaid work you should still list it there as it demonstrates your experience.

But, if it’s not relevant and you just want to add your volunteer work to showcase your soft skills you should make a different section, for example ‘Volunteering Experience’ and list your volunteer work there.

Remember that volunteering speaks to your motivation as a person so always include it on your CV but be mindful of how you add it as this can make the difference between getting hired or not.

Do you have any other tips in regards to how to use volunteer work on our CVs? If you do, please let us know in the comment section below.

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