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  3. Check out these tips on putting your volunteer experience on your resume
Check out these tips on putting your volunteer experience on your resume

Check out these tips on putting your volunteer experience on your resume

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • Extracurricular activities vs. volunteer experience on a resume
  • What are the best volunteer examples for a resume?
  • When to include your volunteer experience on a resume
  • When NOT to include your volunteer experience on a resume
  • How to list volunteer experience on a resume: 3 Scenarios
  • Key takeaways

Your volunteer activities go a long way in making a difference in your community, giving you a sense of purpose–and possibly helping you land your dream job. Check out our blog on how to tailor your resume to effectively showcase your volunteer experience.

Recruiters and hiring managers all over the world probably review dozens of resumes every day. If you really want to stand out among all other job seekers, you need to add that extra “zing” to your resume. And what better way to do that than by sprinkling it with some volunteer experience?

In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into:

  • Extracurricular activities vs. volunteer experience

  • Volunteer activities that look good on a resume

  • When and when not to list volunteer work

  • Examples of volunteer experience on your resume

Extracurricular activities vs. volunteer experience on a resume

Before proceeding any further, it’s important to distinguish between extracurricular activities and volunteer work. Extracurricular activities include tasks done outside of your academic routine such as a college education. These involve sports, debates, theater, music, dance, part-time jobs, and student body memberships. The goal of these activities is to help you get into college and advance your professional career.

Volunteer experience, on the other hand, involves doing things to make a positive change in the society and assisting those in need of help. Some examples include working at a shelter, a senior living facility, with children groups, and with people with disabilities. The goal of these activities is to give back to the community. 

What are the best volunteer examples for a resume?

When it comes to volunteer work, there’s no good or bad. If the intention is to help someone, then it’s the effort that counts. However, if you’re unsure what type of volunteer work would look good on your resume, then here are a few examples.


There are plenty of nonprofit organizations out there that need donations and contributions to pursue a noble cause. If you’ve happened to help one of these organizations raise money, then that’s something you should consider putting on your resume.

Fundraising is not just for nonprofits but also for large corporations looking to raise awareness and funds as part of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative. Furthermore, there are several job roles (such as marketing managers, community advocates, and event coordinators) that require experience in event promotion and fundraising, and volunteer experience counts. 


Looking after seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals with special needs along with assisting them with daily tasks is a rewarding experience. Caregiving helps you develop empathy for others, which is a key soft skill for several types of jobs, especially managerial positions. If you’ve volunteered at a local shelter, soup kitchen, retirement home, hospital, or half-way house, you can add this experience in your resume.   


Mentoring includes a wide variety of activities, such as counseling troubled individuals and coaching a children’s sports team. The ability to mentor and coach others, especially in times of crisis, is a crucial soft skill that’s needed for different job roles. It helps you develop active listening skills, empathy, and compassion.


Many people take up volunteer teaching jobs at far-off locations. This is an amazing opportunity to learn about different people and cultures, expand your horizons, and develop the ability to get along well with others (agreeableness). By adding this volunteer experience to your resume, you’re letting the reader know that you work well with diverse teams and are open to challenges.

When to include your volunteer experience on a resume

It’s generally a good idea to talk about some of your volunteer activities on a resume, even if the employer has not expressly asked you to mention it. These activities will let the reader know that you possess the necessary soft skills and temperament needed for the job. 

In the following cases, you should definitely consider adding volunteer experience to your resume:

  • You have recently graduated from college, are looking for an entry-level job, and/or you don’t have a great deal of work experience

  • There’s a significant career gap in your resume that’s hard to justify

  • You have a past criminal record and you’re looking for a fresh start

  • You’re applying for a job role at a nonprofit organization

  • Your potential employer expressly asks you to mention volunteer experience on your resume

  • The nature of the job requires you to include your volunteer experience (For example, if you’re applying for a marketing coordinator role and you need to showcase your fundraising skills)

When NOT to include your volunteer experience on a resume

Despite the benefits of volunteering, there are a couple of cases when you should reconsider adding your volunteer experience to your resume. Here are a few such instances.

  • Your potential employer has clearly stated not to mention volunteer work (This happens rarely, if ever)

  • Your volunteer experience is outdated (For example, if you worked at a local soup kitchen 15 years ago, it’s likely not relevant enough for the present job)

  • Your volunteer work cannot be verified and doesn’t add any value to your resume (For example, if you served as a substitute math tutor for your neighbor’s kid, it’s probably best not to list it)

  • You have sufficient work experience and education

How to list volunteer experience on a resume: 3 Scenarios

When it comes to adding your volunteer experience to your resume, you have multiple options depending on the circumstances outlined below.

1. When adding volunteer experience is necessary

These cases include your employer asking you to state your volunteer experience, you have insufficient job experience, there’s a gap in your resume, or you’re applying for your first job right after graduation. In this case, you’ll have to treat your volunteer work as actual job experience in your Professional Experience section.


Let’s assume you have worked at a local hospital for kids. Here’s how you can mention this in your resume:

St. Patrick’s Children Hospital, Cleveland, OH  March 2019 - October 2020 Volunteer

  • Managed all documentation and filing tasks

  • Maintained accurate records and provided them to staff members as needed

  • Entertained kids during weekly playgroup activities every Wednesday

2. When it’s not a requirement, but you still want to stand out

If you have sufficient work experience, some space left in your resume, and you need that finishing touch to outshine other job applicants, you should consider adding a separate section to your resume titled Volunteer Experience

Your volunteer activities should be listed in bullets. This format would also work if you have volunteered at multiple organizations.


Volunteer Experience

  • Assisted in daily meal preparation at Agatha’s Soup Kitchen in Brooklyn, NY

  • Developed an online platform to help adopt stray dogs at Dimitri’s Animal Shelter in Brooklyn, NY

  • Served as a volunteer English tutor at North Parkway Medium School in Cancun, Mexico

3. When you don’t have enough space in your resume

If you have enough work experience and it’s difficult to fit in your volunteer activities, you can add them to your regular job accomplishments in a subtle manner. The objective is to briefly mention your volunteer experience without pushing your resume to more than three pages.


Let’s assume you’re an IT professional and you’ve taught coding to children while working at a particular organization. The third bullet below shows how you can mention this volunteer activity as part of your regular job description.

IBM, San Jose, CA April 2022 - Present Program Director

  • Developed a comprehensive systems training program for 400 new hires

  • Slashed programming errors by 97% by designing a new data analysis solution

  • Mentored and taught coding to 250 children in Nairobi, Kenya

Key takeaways

  1. When you’re applying for a job and you want to stand out from other job applicants, consider adding some volunteer experience to your resume.

  2. When mentioning your volunteer experience, it’s important to distinguish these activities from your academic-related extracurricular activities.

  3. There are different ways you can add your volunteer experience to your resume, depending on the circumstances. The goal is to keep your resume under three pages total.

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