When writing a curriculum vitae, you’re not limited to listing full-time, professional work experience. In fact, CNNMoney notes that many employers rank volunteer contributions equally as high as paid work. To best highlight this experience, devote as much time and detail to volunteer experience as you do your full-time jobs. Describe the skills you used, knowledge you gained and how you can leverage this succeed in the position for which you’re applying.
Categorizing Your Volunteer Experience
You can either create a separate section on your CV or include your volunteer work in the same category as your professional work history. When grouping it with your paid experience, list it in reverse chronological order along with your other jobs. If you held a title, such as treasurer or community relations director, note this just as you would a formal title for a paid job. If you didn’t have a title, use “volunteer” instead. When listing your volunteer work separately, title the section “Volunteer Experience.” Highlight your skills, duties and accomplishments with bulletpoints.
Include volunteer work only if it’s directly related to job for which you’re applying or if you can demonstrate how it translates to the position you’re seeking. If you’re applying for a job as a medical director, volunteering for a local free clinic demonstrates your clinical skills, knowledge of a specific patient population and ability to work with patients from diverse backgrounds. Noting that you worked as a volunteer coordinator for a local food bank doesn’t illuminate your skills as a doctor. Also, if you volunteered with a religious or political organization, omit this affiliation unless you’re applying to a company with similar leanings.
Focus on Skills
Show employers that the skills you gained as part of your volunteer work qualify you for the job you’re seeking. Include a skills section at the top of your resume that describes strengths such as leadership ability, communication and anything specific to the job you’re targeting. If you’re applying for an academic position, note that during your time teaching literacy classes for adults, you learned how to create lesson plans, evaluate student progress and tailor information for students at a remedial level.
Describe Duties and Accomplishments
Just as you would for a full-time job, list the duties you performed for each volunteer position. If you helped plan a free mental health screening event for the community, point out that you determined the most effective ways to reach out to low-income residents and that you trained volunteers and fellow counselors on how to evaluate and educate participants. Also, showcase your achievements. For example, mention that your efforts attracted 25 percent more visitors to the events and five new corporate sponsors.
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