5 Tips to Maximize the Impact of Volunteering on Your Resume and Cover Letter

By Justine Simonin on 23/03/2020

Written by by Andrew Fennell, founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes career advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian, and FastCompany.

 

It’s easy to feel disheartened if you believe that a dose of volunteering is akin to a career gap on your resume. However, volunteering experience actually has immense power when it comes to your resume and cover letter.

 

Volunteering can, in fact, give you a whopping great edge. A Deloitte survey revealed that 92% of employers believe your professional skills are boosted though volunteering. What’s more, they are 82% more likely to choose a candidate who has volunteering experience, over one without.

 

It’s all about how you present your experience in your resume and cover letter. Here, we give you the confidence to showcase it, so that you can maximize the impact of volunteering on your resume and cover letter.

 

What Does Volunteering Show a Future Employer?

 

Before we get stuck in to the nitty-gritty of our five tips, let’s first examine why volunteering is a good thing, where employers are concerned. It shows them:

 

  • You are interested in experience over money, especially if it’s in a related role.
  • Insight into who you are and what motivates you. This is a gold mine of information for an employer who is wondering if you’ll fit their culture.
  • Broader skills, which aren’t always acquired easily in a workplace.

 

Now, let’s look at how you convey these benefits in the resume and cover letter itself.

 

Top Tips for Putting Volunteering Experience on Your Resume and Cover Letter

 

1.      Think in Terms of Skills and Experience

 

The employment section of your resume should never be a mere list of jobs done. The purpose of this section is show the potential employer that you have the skills and experience to match their role objectives.

 

Therefore, before you put fingers to the keyboard, consider what skills and experience you have gained through volunteering and how these connect to the specific role you are applying for. Many of the skills you have acquired will be transferable.

 

2.      Be Snappy

 

This is a tip for all resume writing, but carries extra weight here. As a gap year student, volunteering in conservation in South America, or a career-breaker who volunteered setting up computer networks in remote schools in Africa, you’ve got some incredible stories to tell.

 

A resume and cover letter isn’t the place for them. Keep this factual and focused on how the experience relates to your next work place. This isn’t to say you must ignore those stories. For example, if you coped with a major crisis, say so, but in minimal words. Keep it relevant.

 

3.      Use Your Cover Letter

 

While many employers value your volunteer experience, they can require a little nudge to help them see how it is valuable for them. Your chance to explain this is, succinctly, within your cover letter.

 

Look at our points above about why volunteering is good for employers. Then consider how this can hit home, for the particular employer in question. For example, does the company take its Corporate Social Responsibility seriously, and make its employees a key part of this?

 

4.      Check for gaps

 

When you include volunteering on your resume, it’s all too easy to accidentally leave gaps in your timeline. Go through and check that there aren’t any glaring gaps, and if so, plug them. Often an employer cares that you have done something with your time. If they can’t work out why there is a gap, then they will jump to conclusions.

 

For example, if you traveled after a volunteer placement, state this briefly.

 

5.      Use your references

 

If you underestimate the importance of your volunteering experience, then the recruiter will too. By putting in references, or the contact details of someone who managed you, it demonstrates that you took the volunteer role seriously. These referees can be invaluable for making you look good.

 

Whether your volunteering experience was a long-term all-consuming experience, or something you do alongside your day job, it has value on your resume and cover letter. Don’t underestimate how volunteering makes you a desirable candidate.

 

Head to our blog for more helpful tips about volunteering abroad! You can also check out our GivingWay Volunteer and Travel Advice Facebook group to connect with other volunteers and nonprofits! 😁

 

 

The views expressed in this guest post are solely those of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of GivingWay. The material and information contained on the GivingWay blog is for general information purposes only. GivingWay will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented in the GivingWay blog.