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Does Volunteer Work count as “Work Experience” on a Resume?

Does Volunteer Work count as “Work Experience” on a Resume?

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Volunteering is a generous act of dedicating one’s time to a cause. This may be out of goodwill, wanting to gain experience in a new area or a mix of the two.

The term “volunteer work” quite literally contains the word “work,” so should this be included in the work experience section on a resume?


Does Volunteer Work Count as Work Experience on a Resume?

Volunteer work can count as work experience on a resume. For those with little experience, it is a good idea to include volunteer work. You may also include volunteering in the skills section. It is not necessary to include volunteering in the experience section if it was short-term.

Volunteer work may be included in the experience section in any case, but it is best done by those who have little professional working experience.

Employers value professional experience more than volunteer experience because the stakes are higher, and there tend to be stricter expectations. 

If you have enough relevant professional experience, it is not recommended to include the volunteer experience unless it is extremely relevant or impressive.

Because the experience section should always be in reverse chronological order, including a volunteer experience may push a professional experience further down the resume, which comes off as less impressive. 

Once you have decided that the volunteer experience is relevant, format it in a way that best highlights your skillset. Check out our tips for how to include volunteering on your resume in the best way!


What types of volunteer work should be included on a resume?

Volunteer work that is related to the field that you are applying to should be included.

It is also a good idea to include volunteer work from which you have gained a valuable skill. For recent graduates or those with little experience, you may include any type of volunteer work to fill space.

The best types of volunteering to include are recurring, such as weekly or monthly activities. This shows dedication and consistency as an employee.

Any experiences that include language skills, appointment setting skills, call/email skills, or technological skills such as programming languages are valuable assets.

On a resume, relevance will always be key. Volunteering can be included as experience on a resume, but you want to try to make it seem as relevant to the job you are applying for as possible.

Identify key skills, traits, or responsibilities you had during the volunteer experience, and highlight those specifically. 


What types of volunteer work do not count as experience on a resume?

Technically, you could re-word any type of volunteer experience to sound impressive on a resume. However, you should be careful when including experiences such as those done for immediate or extended family members, one-time events, or experiences that were overly simple.

Favors done for the family such as dog-walking, mowing lawns, or doing laundry, tend to be things that are expected of any person. Thus they are not impressive on a resume.

Try not to include these types of experiences. If you are struggling and thinking there’s nothing to put on your resume, try including other things first. 

One-time events are also to be avoided on a resume unless they are extremely relevant. Employers want to see continued dedication to a job, and like in the instance of a one-month job, it’s best not to include this if you have other things to include instead.