Job Search & Interview

How To Include Volunteer Experience On A Resume: Tips and Examples

With hiring managers typically sifting through 100 to 200 resumes daily, standing out from the crowd can be a challenge. This is where your volunteer experience can make a significant difference. As per a Deloitte survey, a notable 82% of hiring managers favor applicants who have volunteer experience. Therefore, if you’ve spent time volunteering, it’s crucial to include this in your resume. However, it’s not just about listing it; it’s about listing it correctly.

In this article, we’ll delve into the nature of volunteer experience, and discuss when and how to effectively incorporate it into your resume to increase your chances of landing your dream job. Let’s dive in to learn more!

volunteer experience on resume

What is Volunteer Experience?

Volunteer experience, meaning the time you’ve spent contributing to a cause, organization, or project without receiving financial compensation, could range from helping out at a local charity event, participating in community service, or even working overseas on a humanitarian mission.

It’s an opportunity to develop new skills, gain practical experience, and make a positive impact on society.

Why Should You Highlight Volunteer Experience On A Resume?

Highlighting volunteer experience on a resume can be a game-changer in your job search. Here’s why:

1. Develops Leadership Skills

According to a survey, a whopping 92% of hiring managers believe that volunteer activities are instrumental in building leadership skills. When you volunteer, you often have opportunities to take charge, manage people, and make decisions, all of which are key leadership skills.

2. Provides Valuable Work Experience

Volunteer experience is akin to work experience. You apply for it, your performance is evaluated, and you gain transferable skills that are highly valued in the workplace, such as:

  • Teamwork: Volunteering often involves working as part of a team, which can demonstrate your ability to collaborate effectively with others.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Interacting with a diverse range of people during volunteering can enhance your communication and people skills.
  • Customer Service: Many volunteer roles involve dealing with the public, which can help develop excellent customer service skills.
  • Compassion: Volunteering for causes you care about shows empathy and a caring nature, qualities that many employers value.
  • Dependability: Regular volunteering demonstrates reliability, a trait highly sought after in any employee.

3. Opportunity to Learn New Skills

Volunteering can also be a platform to learn and hone new skills that potential employers are looking for. For instance, you might pick up accounting skills while managing a charity’s finances or learn about marketing while promoting a fundraising event.

4. Sets You Apart from Other Applicants

Interestingly, only 32% of job applicants list volunteer experience on their resumes. By including your volunteer work, you automatically place yourself in the top third of all applicants, giving you a distinct competitive edge.

5. Demonstrates a Commitment to Giving Back to The Community

Including volunteer experience on your resume sends a powerful message about your character. It shows that you’re not solely driven by money but are someone who values community and giving back.

Highlighting volunteer experience on your resume not only showcases your skills and experiences but also reflects your personal values and commitment to making a difference. It’s a testament to your character and potential as an employee, making you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.

Read More: How To Describe “I Am A Quick Learner And Hard Worker” In a Resume

When to Include Volunteer Experience on Your Resume

Including volunteer work on resume can be particularly beneficial in certain situations:

1. Limited or No Work Experience

If you’re a recent graduate or have limited work experience, volunteer work can help fill out your resume. It shows that you’ve been proactive and committed to developing your skills and gaining experience, even if it’s not in a traditional paid role.

2. Relevance to the Job

If the volunteer work you’ve done is relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s definitely worth including. It can demonstrate that you have practical experience in the field and have already developed some of the skills needed for the job.

3. Employment Gaps

If there are gaps in your employment history, volunteer work can help to fill these gaps. It shows that you’ve been using your time productively and continuing to develop your skills, even while not in paid employment.

4. Company Culture

If you’re applying to a company that values community service and giving back, like Patagonia, including volunteer work can show that you share these values. This can help you to fit into the company culture.

5. Non-Profit Organizations

If you’re applying for a job in a non-profit organization, volunteer work is especially relevant. It shows that you understand the sector and are committed to the kind of work the organization does.

6. Career Change

If you’re changing careers and don’t have much relevant experience in your new field, volunteer work in this field can help to demonstrate your commitment and your initiative in gaining relevant skills and experience.

7. Highlighting Transferable Skills

Volunteer work can also be used to highlight transferable skills that aren’t evident from your paid employment. For example, if you’ve developed strong communication skills through volunteering but your paid work has been more technical, including the volunteer work can help to show a broader range of skills.

When Not to include Volunteer Experience on Your Resume

While volunteer experience can be a valuable addition to your resume, there are certain situations where it might be better to leave it out:

1. Outdated Volunteer Work

If your volunteer work was a long time ago and you’ve gained more relevant experience since then, it might not be worth including. Outdated volunteer work might not reflect your current skills and abilities, and employers are usually most interested in recent experience.

2. Extensive Paid Work Experience and Education

If you have a lot of paid work experience and education, these should take priority on your resume. These are often what employers are most interested in, as they provide the most direct evidence of your abilities in a work setting. 

If including volunteer work would make your resume too long and detract from these more important aspects, it’s better to leave it out.

How To Effectively Showcase Volunteer Experience On Resume: Do’s And Don’ts

Effectively showcasing volunteer experience on your resume can significantly enhance your job application. Here are some do’s and don’ts to guide you:


  • Detail Your Role and Interactions: Mention the type of work you did during your volunteer experience, especially if it involved coordination with others. Employers value evidence of communication skills and teamwork.
  • Create a Separate Section for Unrelated Volunteer Work: If your volunteer experience isn’t directly related to the job you’re applying for, consider placing it under a special volunteering section or ‘Additional Activities’.
  • Include Key Details: Always include the position you held, the organization you volunteered for, the dates of your volunteering, and your responsibilities and achievements.
  • Tailor Unrelated Volunteer Experience: If you want your unrelated volunteer experience to stand out, tailor it to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re applying for a customer service role, you could highlight how volunteering at a community event helped you develop your people skills and problem-solving abilities.
  • Emphasize Achievements Over Responsibilities: Where possible, focus on what you achieved during your volunteer work rather than just listing responsibilities. However, if it’s hard to track achievements in some volunteer roles, it’s okay to list responsibilities. 
  • Consider Placement Based on Relevance: If your volunteer experience is related to the job you’re applying for, you can include it under the ‘Work Experience’ section. If you have a lot of paid work experience, then place your volunteer work under a separate section, such as ‘Volunteer Experience’ or ‘Additional Activities’.
  • Keep it Relevant and Recent: Focus on volunteer work that is recent and relevant to the position you’re applying for.


  • Avoid Mixing Relevant and Irrelevant Experience: Don’t mix work-related experience with irrelevant volunteer experience. Keep them separate to maintain clarity and focus.
  • Don’t Overcrowd Your Resume: If your resume is already lengthy, don’t try to squeeze in volunteer experience. It’s important to keep your resume concise and focused on the most relevant and impactful information.

Read More: How To List Skills That I Taught Myself On Resume

Practical Illustrations: Volunteering Experience Examples

Example 1: Related Experience

Suppose you’re a recent graduate with no paid work experience in software engineering. However, you do have some volunteer experience providing IT services for a local community. Here are some good and bad examples of how to include this volunteer experience in your resume:

Good Inclusion of Volunteer Experience:

Work Experience

  • IT Specialist, Local Community Center, June 2022 – Present
    • Held a volunteer position as an IT Specialist for a local Community Centre.
    • Designed and developed a user-friendly website, improving community engagement by 50%.
    • Built a mobile application to facilitate event registration, resulting in a 30% increase in event attendance.
    • Collaborated with a team of volunteers to troubleshoot and resolve IT issues, enhancing system efficiency and reliability.
    • Conducted weekly IT training sessions for staff, improving their tech proficiency and reducing IT-related issues by 40%.
  • Web Designer, Local Non-Profit Organization, January 2022 – May 2022
    • Held a volunteer position as a Web Designer for a local non-profit organization called ABC.
    • Redesigned the organization’s website, improving site traffic by 35% and boosting online donations by 20%.
    • Implemented SEO strategies, increasing the website’s search engine ranking and visibility.
    • Provided ongoing website maintenance and updates, ensuring optimal performance and user experience.

Bad Inclusion of Volunteer Experience:

Work Experience

  • Volunteer, Local Community Center, June 2022 – Present
    • Did some IT stuff.
    • Helped with the website and app.
    • Fixed computer problems.
  • Volunteer, Local Non-Profit Organization, January 2022 – May 2022
    • Worked on the website.
    • Did some SEO things.
    • Kept the website updated.

Since this volunteer experience is related to the job you are applying for, you can include this under the Work Experience section.

Example 2: Unrelated Experience But Can Tailor to The Job

Suppose you’re applying for an accounting position, but you don’t have any experience in this field. However, you do have some volunteer experience, specifically fundraising for a local wildlife organization. Here are some examples of the right and wrong ways to include this volunteer experience:

Good Inclusion of Volunteer Experience:

Volunteering Experience

Volunteer Fundraiser, Local Wildlife Protection Organization, June 2022 – Present

  • Organized and managed fundraising events, raising over $20,000 for local wildlife protection efforts.
  • Maintained detailed financial records of all donations, ensuring transparency and accountability.
  • Developed and implemented budget plans for each event, optimizing resource allocation and maximizing fundraising potential.
  • Collaborated with a team of volunteers to promote events and solicit donations, demonstrating strong teamwork and communication skills.

Bad Inclusion of Volunteer Experience:

Volunteer, Local Wildlife Protection Organization, June 2022 – Present

  • Did some fundraising.
  • Kept track of the money.
  • Helped with budgeting.

Example 3: Unrelated Experience and Cannot Tailor to The Job

Even though you can’t list them as experience, unrelated volunteer experience can still showcase transferable skills, demonstrate character traits like dedication and empathy, and reflect a well-rounded individual, which employers value. 

Suppose you’re applying for a marketing job, but you don’t have any experience in this field. During your school years, you volunteered to assist homeless individuals and distribute food, which isn’t directly related to the job you’re applying for. Here are the good and bad examples to include your unrelated volunteer experience in your resume:

Good Inclusion of Volunteer Experience:

Volunteering Experience

  • Volunteer, Local Homeless Shelter, June 2022 – Present
    • Coordinated with a team of volunteers to distribute food to those in need.
    • Developed and implemented strategies to increase the efficiency of food distribution.
    • Built relationships with local businesses to secure food donations.
    • Managed social media accounts to raise awareness about the shelter’s work, gaining experience in digital marketing.
  • Volunteer, Food Distribution Drive, January 2022 – May 2022
    • Organized and executed a successful food distribution drive.
    • Collaborated with a diverse team of volunteers.
    • Conducted community outreach to promote the drive, gaining experience in public relations and marketing.
    • Maintained detailed records of food donations and distributions.

Bad Inclusion of Volunteer Experience:

Volunteering Experience

  • Volunteer, Local Homeless Shelter, June 2022 – Present
    • Helped homeless people.
    • Gave out food.
    • Talked to businesses.
  • Volunteer, Food Distribution Drive, January 2022 – May 2022
    • Organized a food drive.
    • Worked with other volunteers.
    • Promoted the drive.

In the good examples, the volunteer experience is detailed, with specific tasks and achievements clearly outlined. This gives a potential employer a clear understanding of the skills and experience gained during the volunteer work.

In the bad examples, the descriptions are vague and lack detail. They don’t give a clear picture of what the volunteer work involved or what skills and experience were gained. This makes it hard for a potential employer to see the value of volunteer work.

Key Takeaways

  • Including volunteer experience in your resume, particularly if you’re a recent graduate, have employment gaps, or are applying to an NGO, can make you more appealing to hiring managers.
  • If the volunteer work is relevant to the job you’re applying for, include it under the ‘Work Experience’ section; if it’s not or you have extensive paid work experience, place it under a separate ‘Volunteering’ or ‘Additional Activities’ section.
  • Leveraging volunteer experience can help you distinguish yourself from other candidates, especially when you lack substantial work experience.


Volunteer experience can be a powerful addition to your resume, showcasing your skills, character, and commitment. Whether it’s filling employment gaps, demonstrating your values, or enhancing your skill set, volunteer work can make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.

The tips and examples provided in this article should give you a clear understanding of how to effectively include volunteer experience in your resume. 

Here’s hoping this guidance empowers you to present your volunteer work in the best possible light, enhancing your chances of landing your dream job.

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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