Volunteer Work on a CV

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Is it necessary to include any time spent volunteering on your CV?

This is a question asked amongst many jobseekers, whether recent school-leavers or jobseekers with 20 years of experience. Listing volunteer work on a CV can be tricky for those who have more volunteer experience than work experience, yet also for those who have years of experience with the need to prioritise and filter what they include on their CV template.

Volunteering is a rewarding and engaging experience which is recommendable for all. The difficulty many jobseekers experience when writing a CV is determining which elements to include, so naturally it is challenging to decide whether the volunteering you did is worth listing. There are many aspects which should be taken into account when listing various things on a CV and every job applicant is different.

How to add volunteer work on your CV

Sometimes it’s not necessary to differentiate volunteer work from paid work experience, as you may find that your voluntary experience is more relevant to the job specification than other previous work history. You can list your voluntary experience under the work experience section of your CV; however, it is advisable to indicate that is was voluntary.

The work experience section of your CV should be listed in a reverse chronological order. List your voluntary work in the same format as other work experience, all the while specifying that is was voluntary.

For those who have sufficient paid work experience in the same or a similar field to the job specification, it is advisable that you divide this section of your CV into work experience and voluntary work. This presents a clearer personal profile to recruiters, helping them to understand your previous work history and volunteering in two separate, clear sections.

When writing voluntary work on your CV you should include:

  • The same details as you would for a previous job listed in the work experience section. For example, the name of the charity or organisation, you volunteer title, the length of time during which you volunteered.
  • Describe the job and the responsibilities you had, any skills or knowledge you acquired, amongst other factors of the job.
  • List achievements or personal progress such as how much money you raised.
    Outline professional skills such as leadership or communication which you had to use or you gained whilst volunteering.
  • Make sure you relate to the job specification by showing recruiters you have the skills and knowledge required. Highlight any responsibilities or skills which you had or acquired while volunteering which are need for the job.

Why include your volunteer work on a CV

Including volunteer experience on a CV can be valuable and also demonstrate to recruiters that you are hard-working and benevolent. Although volunteering isn’t a paid work placement which you can add to the work experience section of your CV layout, it is still worth including on your CV for many reasons.

Volunteer work on your cv
  1. If the volunteering was in a charity retail shop and you are applying for a job as a sales assistant in another retail shop, listing the volunteering experience provides you with experience in the field, therefore boosting your employability.
  2. Not everyone chooses to volunteer. Volunteer work can set you apart from other job applicants on a CV. It shows motivation, as well as willingness to help others and learn more. Not all job applicants have volunteer experience, so including your volunteer experience makes you more unique, and therefore employable.
  3. You gain life skills working with different groups of people, improving communication skills significantly.
  4. It can help to make a good impression on prospective employers and can also give insight into your interests. For example, if you volunteered at an animal shelter, you project your passion for animal welfare and care. This would be ideal if for example you were applying for a job at a vet, as this relates your volunteering with the field of work.
  5. Volunteering shows employers that you’re not in it for the money. Your interest in the job is enough to fuel your motivation and satisfaction.

Tips for adding your volunteer experience

When writing your volunteer experience on a CV, it’s important to bear a few things in mind:

  • Maintain the same format as the basic CV
  • Make sure you keep the work experience relevant to the job specification
  • Highlight skills and responsibilities which strengthen your personal profile
  • Be sure to reread through everything carefully at least once

Related volunteer work on your CV

When the volunteer work you completed is related to the field in which you wish to work, it is acceptable to list it under the work experience or work history section of your CV.

Ideally, any volunteer experience you list should be relevant in some way to the job description. Using the skills and responsibilities from the volunteer work, you can highlight features which make you a strong candidate for the job.

You should list the related volunteer work using the same format and structure as the rest of your CV, particularly maintaining the same format as the work experience section.

Last modified on 15 October 2020

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