How to Present Volunteer Information On Your CV
Like many job candidates, you may be questioning whether to include volunteer experience on your CV because it is unpaid work. If you are, the answer is: absolutely. Volunteering IS work and you should take credit for all of your life accomplishments.
Just because you were not paid does not mean you should dismiss or underestimate the significance of your volunteer experience as unrelated or irrelevant to your job search. Volunteer projects and programs teach life skills, and can be just as helpful in getting a job as paid experience. In addition, by listing volunteer activities on your CV, employers will get a glimpse of your values and appreciate the fact that you are well-rounded and active in your community.
Volunteer experience would be particularly useful if youre applying for a position in the public sector, or if as part of the position youre applying to, youre expected to interact with the local community.
The main question is where to list your volunteer experience on your CV, and the technique you use depends on how relevant your volunteer experience is to the role that you are applying for.
If the work is not relevant to your targeted role, create a special section of your CV titled "VOLUNTEER WORK." If you are adopting this method, dont simply list your experience as "volunteer." Offer specific information about the role you performed.
If the volunteer role was a full-time position, state that on the CV, because there is a popular assumption is that volunteer work is generally short-lived or part-time work. You should also include the name of the organization along with the city or town, the job title (if appropriate) and dates.
EVENTS CO-ORDINATOR, July 2003
Red Cross, Canary Wharf, London
"Coordinated 35 volunteers to organize and promote a blood drive which collected 80 pints of blood over a two day event."- This tells a potential employer what you did and how successful you were at it.
If the volunteer work is directly relevant to the targeted role, your CV should be specifically targeted to the role and you should integrate any career-related volunteer accomplishments in the work experience section of the CV. Use the same format that you used for other employment sections, and wherever possible, use similar verbiage to the target job. For example, when applying for a job as a sales manager, a fundraising team leader could cite his or her volunteer experience to "plan a fundraising event that drew 2,500 attendees and raised £10,000 as evidence of ability to organize, motivate and lead. You can also highlight these special skills in the professional summary section of your CV. For example: "Excellent organizational and project coordination skills."
Your cover letter can also be used to highlight the value of your volunteer experience. For example, you could state that: "As a volunteer, I learned the subtleties of persuading people to contribute time and money to worthy causes." This can effectively demonstrate your persuasive and communication skills to a potential employer.
Finally, when describing your volunteer experience, think of job titles and headings that would be more appropriate for the career youre seeking. Never use the word volunteer when there is a specific job title you could use. For example, if you accomplished secretarial or administrative tasks, state that you worked as an "administrative assistant", rather than a "volunteer".
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