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Resume Tips for Volunteers

In an earlier blog article, we explored the advantages volunteerism can bring to individuals by providing them experience that can be applied to the work world. As such, make sure you continue to examine the motivations attached to the volunteers who are landing at your door. You’re probably seeing some people who are drawn to your volunteer opportunities in an effort to keep current skills sharp or learn new ones to advance beyond their present job. Others may be seeking management experience or want to acquire an entirely new skill set in or der to transition into a completely different field. As you work with career-minded volunteers, this is your chance to give back in return, by offering some resume tips.

Resume Tips from the Pros

For these, we turn to a wonderful article from entitled “Helping Volunteers to Market Their Experience on Their Resumes” by Mary Agnes Williams. Here are some of the highlights:

  • When applicable, rely on volunteer work to fill in time gaps between jobs.resume tips volunteers
  • Use generalized headings, such as “Professional Experience,” as opposed to “Employment History.” This allows an individual to list his or her skills without limiting them to paid positions.
  • When specifying work that was unpaid, do not feel the need to label it as volunteer. Instead, focus on the position’s title.
  • Clarify if the volunteer work is full-time or ongoing. Most employers assume volunteerism is intermittent.

Additional Ideas

Williams suggests that organizations may want to go the extra mile as an appreciation of their volunteers and host a resume workshop for them. Because, in addition to those who are volunteering specifically to gain new skills, she also points out that you may have another group of people who don’t even realize it’s acceptable to put volunteer experience on their resume. A great way to jog a volunteer’s memory to all the duties s/he performs — and to assist him or her with resume writing — is to hand out a new copy of his or her volunteer job description. Of course, managers at your agency can also offer letters of recommendation to outstanding volunteers to accompany the newly-honed resumes.

What’s Your Motivation

Ms. Williams shines a light on a third group of volunteers: those who have come to your organization motivated by things other than cultivating job skills. She argues, however, that resume writing can be a positive experience for this demographic as well. “Even if volunteers have no intention of seeking paid employment, directors and coordinators may want to consider resume writing as a group activity,” advises Williams. “This can be a win-win situation: volunteer leaders will learn more about the talents and experience of volunteers…. Whether used in job searches or not, resumes can be empowering for people of all ages and backgrounds.”

For further reading:

Mary Agnes Williams is an employment and administrative services consultant based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Read her article in its entirety here.

Headshot of Shawn Kendrick

About Shawn Kendrick

Shawn Kendrick holds an MBA from Ohio Dominican University and has over a decade’s experience in the nonprofit and business sectors. He enjoys researching and blogging for VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management system that offers online registration, email and text messaging, report generation, and much more.

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