How to list volunteer work on a CV

If you have minimal professional work experience, listing volunteer work on a CV can be very helpful. Here’s how to list volunteer work on your CV.



Table of Contents

  1. Volunteer work on a CV
  2. Why putting volunteer work on a CV is important
  3. When to list volunteer work on a CV
  4. How to list volunteer work on a CV
  5. FAQ: Volunteer work on a CV

Volunteer work on a CV

Whether you have lots of work experience or none, volunteer experience can be a great addition to any CV’s experience section. A volunteer position can help you put yourself above other job seekers, especially when it comes to an entry-level position or a position that places a lot of emphasis on helping your community. How do you list volunteer experience on your CV, and why is it important? Here’s what you need to know.

Why putting volunteer work on a CV is important

Volunteer work is a big deal. Many hiring managers say they prefer someone with volunteer experience over someone without that experience. If you list volunteer experience on your CV, you could get a job more effectively than a CV with no volunteer experience. A recruiter is more likely to look at a job application with volunteer experience.

Additionally, volunteer work can show off skills you may never have thought about. Depending on your specific volunteer work, volunteer activities can showcase adaptability, empathy, a desire to help your community, and knowledge of certain skills like fundraising. These skills look great on a job application, especially if your potential employer has already indicated that they’re looking for these skills.

When to list volunteer work on a CV

Volunteer work is almost always a good idea to list on a CV. It’s even better if you don’t have a robust work experience section. The key skills you learnt in those years of experience can absolutely help you out. This makes it great for people going through a career change into a new industry, people who are still in high school or just graduated, and recent graduates from college. Just because it’s not paid work, that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant experience.

However, if it’s been more than a few years since you worked at this volunteer job, especially if you have more work history you can rely on, you may want to rethink including it on your CV. Although the skills you built throughout the volunteer experience section are great skills that you can use for many job titles, relying on volunteer work you did over five years ago for a job search today can play negatively into your job search.

How to list volunteer work on a CV

There are typically two options for listing volunteer work on your CV.

The first option is to create a separate section. Instead of putting your volunteer work in the work experience section, you would put it in a special volunteer work section. This can be helpful if you have paid and volunteer work that you want to highlight, especially if they’re very different fields. If you’re applying for a healthcare job and you want to put your volunteer work at an animal shelter on your CV, it’s probably best to create a section for that volunteer work.

The other option is to include this experience directly in your work experience section. If you’re looking for a new job and you don’t have a lot of experience, this can be a great way to compensate. Community service and working for nonprofits both build skills that can help you in your new job, which means they’re relevant in a variety of CV formats.

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important that you know how to list volunteer work effectively. The CVHelp CV examples section can help you learn how other people are writing about their work history, including volunteer work. Remember that the skill set you build will be quite wide, but volunteer work more frequently helps you build your soft skills more than your hard skills.

FAQ: Volunteer work on a CV

Q: What kind of volunteer work looks good on a CV?

All volunteer work will look good on a volunteer CV. It’s all professional experience that showcases you care about other people. However, if you have volunteer work that’s relevant to your job, that will always be the best place to start. An aspiring veterinarian, for example, might choose to list volunteer work at a local shelter.

Q: How do I highlight volunteer work in my cover letter?

Highlighting volunteer work is important in both your CV and your cover letter. Just like you should use the CVHelp CV builder to create a CV you’re proud of, you should use the CVHelp cover letter builder to build an equally great cover letter. Plus, these tools can give you cover letter and CV tips to help you improve your CV overall, even more than just adding volunteer work to it.

Q: Will I be asked about volunteer work in job interviews?

If you list volunteer work on your CV, the hiring manager may ask about that work when reviewing your skills section or relevant experience. Before you go into your job interview, think about how you want to discuss each job in your CV, and how it can apply to the job you want, so you’re not surprised if the interviewer wants to talk about your volunteer work.


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