Take your CV up a notch by including volunteer work.
From customising your cover letter to leveraging your LinkedIn connections, the job search remains a full-time role in itself. So how can you capture attention and acquire the competitive edge? One key option to consider is volunteer work.
Volunteer work proves a vital addition to any CV: It can accommodate gaps in employment, provide access to invaluable connections and convey commitment to community causes that creates a favourable first impression. But what is the proper way to incorporate volunteer work into your CV? Well, whilst some experts believe it best to allocate it to a separate section, others suggest including it alongside employment history. With this contradiction in mind, this article aims to cut through the confusion of how to add volunteering to your CV and provides several actionable insights on how to showcase your skill set to every potential prospect. Let’s take a look.
The value of volunteering experience on a CV
Volunteer opportunities abound in every field of endeavour; from presenting a program on hospital radio, to managing the social media accounts for a charity, there really is something for everyone! Thus, you can easily find work that fits you both personally and professionally.
The benefits of including it on your CV are numerous. It can reassure prospective employers that you’re the right cultural fit for the job and company, for example. Also, if you have a considerable gap on your resume from your last role, volunteer work is a perfectly beneficial buffer to fill the interim; any prospective employers are likely to be suitably impressed that you utilised the period between jobs to gain additional skills and organise your time effectively ‒ both of which are invaluable in a work environment where a talent for time management and dedicated drive are vital for success in any endeavour.
Additionally, in today’s competitive arena, companies want to know that your motivation extends far beyond the perks of a paycheque. Passion is infectious, and by learning how to put volunteer work on your CV, you demonstrate that the passion you profess is fully authentic, rather than simply a means to an end.
Finally, the skills developed during volunteer work remain equally transferable to the world of employment. From communicating with people of all ages to developing problem-solving skills, volunteering provides hands-on experience that can complement existing qualifications and achievements.
Resources for volunteer work: What are my options?
The internet is a treasure trove of resources to help you source an opportunity that enables you to pursue your particular passions whilst making a notable difference to your community and CV alike. Sites such as Do-it and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations provide a wealth of information on all aspects of volunteering, including policy, events and regional volunteer roles, as well as share online forums where you can contact past and present volunteers to gain an insider’s view into what volunteering involves and how it helped them find suitable employment.
Looking for something more local? Newsagent noticeboards often feature a diverse collection of voluntary community roles, from assisting at a polling station to helping children learn to read. Still undecided? Find a cause you’re passionate about, do some research and take that leap of faith! Your chosen cause will undoubtedly find your sense of initiative inspiring, and, in most cases, will be more than happy to provide you with a glowing reference for your volunteer CV to help you secure your dream career down the road.
How to include volunteer work on CV
Once you’ve finished volunteering, you’ll want to showcase your experience in the best possible light on your CV. Although it’s tempting to provide as much information as possible, brevity is often the better option. First and foremost, incorporate as many relevant keywords within your description in order to increase your visibility to employers in the industry you’re targeting. Irrespective of industry, any volunteer experience should also be featured on your CV as a standalone role; choose a role title that encapsulates your assets, followed by a brief description of your corresponding responsibilities. If you received any awards or other notable recognition for your work, then highlight them as priority. Talking up our achievements may not come naturally to us Brits, but remember: Your CV is your calling card for your future career, so you need to flaunt your greatest selling points.
Need any additional assistance with leveraging volunteer experience on your CV? Learn more about TopCV’s professional CV-writing services to help.