Volunteering: A Resume Booster

I have found myself abnormally busy this semester with many of my new job titles, leadership positions, classes and a pending job search. I decided to finally admit I’m human for a change and realized that I had way too many responsibilities to fully dedicate myself to an internship. To fill up what little free time I do have, I decided to begin volunteering my time with organizations that are both important to me personally and professionally. Many people volunteer their time and fail to recognize the importance of the work they are doing and how it could potentially benefit them in their career search. An blog post I found on Brazen Careerist provided great ways how volunteering may help your career more than you think:

Don’t use the title “volunteer.”

The adjective alone doesn’t convey the work you accomplished. Instead, use a title that better represents the specific duties your volunteer work entailed.

For example, if you donated your time helping at-risk students with their homework, use the title “tutor” and outline the skills you used — and gained — such as problem solving or counseling. The fact that the work you did was unpaid should appear in the job description, but first grab the potential employer’s attention with an accurate job title.

Describe your charity work in terms of achievements.

This is especially important when tailoring your resume to submit for a particular position. Frame your volunteer experience to highlight the skills most important and applicable to the job you’re applying to.

For example, did you supervise a staff or committee of volunteers? That requires a variety of skills, from time management to motivation. Did your volunteer work require you to speak publicly or write press releases and promotional materials? These skills apply to almost any position and impress employers, so make sure to draw attention to them.

Volunteer work should supplement, not distract.

Many young professionals have had numerous internships and volunteer posts or held positions in countless clubs and student groups. So it’s easy for volunteer work to overwhelm professional accomplishments on a resume. While it’s important for employers to get a full picture of your skills and attributes, be picky about the charity work you include on your resume. “A resume is meant to show a potential employer what you’ve proven you can do,” Ellis says. “It is not meant to be a recitation of every job you’ve ever held.

How do you think volunteering has helped you in your career or job search? Let us know!

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