Volunteer experience can be used effectively to emphasize certain skills and results that don’t show up in your work experience. Keep in mind that listing volunteer experience is never a requirement. Include it only when you believe that a potential employer will see desirable strengths or experience that will help you obtain an interview. When most people include volunteer experience it is only to list a title, the organization, and the year or years it took place. Providing only that information rarely grabs an employer enough to elicit a call.
Write about your volunteer experience in the same way you would write about a job you’ve had. Include your duties and successes.
In the example below, Julie wants to work for a nonprofit and wants to showcase her serious volunteer experience and commitment to help the less fortunate.
Sojourner Domestic Violence Shelter, Oakland, CA 2005–Present
Kitchen worker three days a month for a 95-bed residential facility. Prepare and serve food, including meals ready to serve and cooking from scratch. Stocked and inventoried donated food.
Center Against Sexual Abuse Rape Crisis Hotline, Oakland, CA 2002–2005
Answered rape crisis hotline phone calls. Provided emergency counseling and referrals for more than 200 victims of sexual assault. Received numerous thank-you notes from victims I assisted.
Sally was out of the workforce for several years and wants to demonstrate her very impressive results. She clearly is a person who makes things happen.
President, Volunteer Bureau of Eugene, Oregon 2004–Present. The organization recruits, trains, and places individuals into volunteer agencies and also establishes programs that serve the needs of the local community.
• Instituted the first all-volunteer Respite Care Program in the country. This
program became a model program for the healthcare reform initiative of 2005,
due to its high success rate and low cost.
• Obtained a $200,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation for expansion of the
• Developed Senior Transportation Services for the elderly and infirm to assist
these individuals in maintaining their independence with daily activities. The program provides more than 5,000 rides annually to seniors, by volunteer drivers.
• Created “Single Parents Network” for those in need of socialization. Fifty or more
people attend most meetings and socials.
• Established youth programs for junior and senior high school students that
provide safe environments for teen activities on Friday and Saturday nights. The activities are well attended by teens and the program has been highly recommended by the police department and several school districts.
• Presented a community education series focusing on “Women’s Issues.”
School Board Member, Eugene, Oregon 2000–2003. Instrumental in strengthening the district through the recruitment of a new superintendent.
Sam wants to demonstrate his organizational and project management abilities. He is clearly a person who makes things happen.
Christmas House – 2004–Present. Planned and organized Snohomish County Fire Protection District 17 Christmas House for the past 4 years. Project provides children from families in need with gifts for the holiday. Solicited donations, advertised event, and organized purchase and distribution of toys. Result: Last year over 320 children were provided with new toys and gifts. Over the past 4 years, approximately 1100 children have benefited from the project.
Stevens Falls School District – 1995–1999. Participated as a citizen on the Strategic Planning Committee for establishing the School District’s first mission, vision, values, and goals statements. Played a key role in the development of the strategic plan. Result: The mission, vision and values that were established are still in use now, ten years later.
Jason wants to demonstrate that he gets things done and can motivate people to take action.
Member of United Way Community Employment and Literacy Panel. The panel is responsible for the annual review of six member agencies that receive semiannual distributions of United Way funds. Review five to ten grantee applications annually, resulting in the award of two to three additional grants each year. These more
recently funded agencies have continued to receive funding based on the quality
of their programs. 2003–Present
Volunteer for the Minneapolis Crime Prevention Program. Coordinated outreach efforts of social workers and met with community leaders and neighborhoods.
Formed more than 60 neighborhood block-watch groups and participated in block-watch meetings to inform and educate residents how to protect their homes and neighborhoods. National studies demonstrated that statistics for crime in those neighborhoods, as well as surrounding neighborhoods, showed drops that were much greater than the drop in crime of similarly sized cities. 1996–2001
For more examples of Volunteer experience, see Appendix B