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Submitted by davis on


I'm currently searching for a new job that includes more leadership activities. I feel that that the volunteer work I've had over the last 8 years provides as much (or more) support for my leadership abilities as my career accomplishments (including some excellent references). Should I list my volunteer positions and accomplishments on my resume, and if so how?

From searching the forums the consensus seems to be to leave them off. I wanted to double check since in this case they have a direct bearing on the jobs I'm seeking.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and suggestions.

P.S. Wow, I can't believe how much useful information is contained in these forums! As a long time podcast subscriber I can see I've been missing a wealth of information. I'm more impressed with MT with every passing day. Thank-you so much Mark, Mike and everyone.

Glenn Ross's picture

Full Disclosure: I work for a non profit.

If you chaired a board of directors or a committee that met or exceeded its goals for that time period, then I think that could be a relevant example of displaying leadership skills. If you chaired a fund-raiser that exceeded its goals, that could be an example of project management. Assuming you have the space available, listing these as additional examples could show how well-rounded you are.

The volunteer position should be "on par" with the position you seek. For example, If you're going after a senior position in a large organization and you chaired a capitol campaign for a hospital or university, then it might fit. But organizing a fundraiser that met its goal of raising $2000 wouldn't.

Also, if the organization has a culture of civic involvement, then that's another reason why you may want to include volunteer experience.



asteriskrntt1's picture

Nicely said Glenn

Davis, don't forget that if you don't put your volunteer activity on the one-page resume, you still absolutely have to have your accomplishment stories for those activities ready.

You never know when the person across the table will reveal that they also share a passion for volunteering or community leadership and your being able to relate a great accomplishment story in that vein will put you over the top.


thaGUma's picture

Keep them on. If you intend progressing past the bottom rung of managment, involvement in the local community is expected (IMHO). The very fact you list voluntary positions shows you are more rounded as a candidate and have enough energy to contribute spare time to making life better for others.

In my book this is a win-win.


scm2423's picture
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I would put it on your resume. It shows energy and commitment. Also it is something that can be used to build relationships. My resume showed that I was a Beaver leader. the HR rep's son had been in a Beaver program prior in a different city prior to them relocating. He asked some specific questions about it, I think it helped build a relationship. He still asks questions about it when I run into him around the complex.

lhalleck's picture

I would put it on. My previous manager told me one of the reasons he considered me for a management position even though I did not have previous management experience is because I was a Girl Scout Leader. He figured if I could lead a troop of 6 and 7 year old girls, I could manage adults. I think that's a bit of a stretch, but I didn't argue.

jhack's picture

If it fills a time gap, then definitely.

Otherwise, I wouldn't put it on the resume. It could be seen as a distraction from work, and while it may occasionally yield results (as above) it may just as often shut doors - although you'd never know that.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

I think it comes down to two things, time and context.

Might the person reading it think that the volunteer activity might take up enough of your time that it might interfere with needed flexibility for the job. If the job you are applying for means that sometimes you have to work late (i.e. pretty much every job) then the recruiter is likely to view negatively any activity that requires you to leave on time a lot of the time. For the same job, however, the recruiter is less likely to be worried is the activity means you have to leave on time once a month as there's less likely to be a clash.

Context is important as well. How does this volunteer activity relate to the job you're applying for?

* Might there be a conflict of interests (by day biomedical researcher, by night PETA activist)?
* Is there a suspicion that you might use company resources in this activity so directly or indirectly harming the company? True story, one company I worked in IT support for we found that one of the guys in the finance department was using company systems to do the accounts for 3 small charities. Unfortunately the way he was doing it meant that their data (including personal details of their service users) was landing up on our servers and putting us in breach of the Data Protection Act. He was sacked and I got to spend a long weekend tracking down and clearing out the data.

On a more positive note:
* Do you get to practise skills or develop/keep fresh knowledge that might be useful to the company?
* Does it help you maintain a professional accreditation at no/reduced cost to the employer?
* Will it help to improve the image of the company? One of the new 'buzzwords' is "Corporate Social Responsibility", companies improving their image by encouraging their employees to do volunteer work. Some will even provide tangible support.


davis's picture
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Thanks for all the feedback. It sounds like I'll take it job by job depending upon whether the specific accomplishments seem relevant.