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Does Volunteer Work Really Count on My Resume?

Does Volunteer Work Really Count on My Resume?

Does Volunteer Work Really Count on My Resume?

Hiring Managers, HR professionals, and recruiters all agree-

Volunteer work absolutely does count!

You simply have to present it in the right light.

They really don’t mind seeing a “gap” in employment, but they do want to know what you have been doing, and what skills you’ve been using in your volunteer work that are relevant and transferable to the job you’re applying for.

The key is to present your relevant volunteer activities as things you’ve done to keep your skills sharp while out of the workforce, or to build/develop new skills.

  1. If you’re a Mom returning to work, do not hesitate to place current and relevant skills at the very top of your resume to make your change. According to hiring managers and resume screeners, one of the biggest mistakes career changers and Moms returning to work make is putting their current volunteer activities at the end of the resume.
  2. If you’re out of the workforce now, but your volunteer work isn’t in a capacity that uses the skills you’ll want to highlight when you re-enter, focus on your future and choose your volunteer work morestrategically.
  3. Research jobs you’re interested in and take stock of the skills they’re looking for; then, construct a volunteer strategy that aligns with using those skills.
  4. Keep a file where you keep track of your numbers and results: how many people you managed, how many dollars you raised, number of hours you worked, the differences you/your group made, and the results you achieved. Include any other facts, figures, references, and information that might be useful.
  5. Focus on presenting your volunteer activities in a “business light.” For example, if you’ve been:

The President of the PTO — Cite your leadership and management skills, and related accomplishments.

In any fundraising capacity — Map to sales & marketing skills. This is where your file comes in handy.  Give them dollars raised, organizations recruited to participate, etc.

Running a school project — Highlight project management, the number of people managed, and special skills you used to get the job done.

Writing and delivering a newsletter — Highlight creative writing and marketing skills along with any graphics or desktop publishing you might have used.

  1. Finally, think about your volunteer work and how you made a difference: Did your contribution include:
  • Making an organization more money?
  • Helping an organization save money?
  • Streamlining an organization’s processes by operating more efficiently?
  • Managing and organizing, such as an event or fundraising campaign?
  • Creating written processes to smooth out transitions or future events?
  1. Be prepared for an interview with a “story” about what you’ve done and how you helped an organization run more efficiently, make more money, or save time. Remember, the work you did was important, and made a difference. Don’t undervalue it, or yourself!

Volunteer work is a great way to:

  • Get out of the house
  • Get involved in the community
  • Build your network
  • Try on new skills
  • Showcase your talents
  • Build a “bridge” to a new career.

Never underestimate the value of unpaid work. It is still work, it has definite value in the business world, and it makes a difference!

 

Linda Waters is a working Mom, career coach, and the founder of Back to Business, LLC. Located inFranklin, Massachusetts, Back to Business provides a full range of services for women returning to the workforce or seeking a better professional “fit” and more fulfilling career.  By providing powerful self-assessments, career exploration and coaching, resume and interview preparation, and professional image development, Back to Business helps women reach their goals with clarity and confidence. 

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