Volunteering Resume : All You Need to Know

One might think that writing a resume for volunteer position is easy because the hiring process won't be as competitive and scrutinized. However, that is not true. Depending on the size of the organization, nature of the volunteer work and the scale at which the work is being done can affect the whole process to great deal.

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Volunteering resume requires a good work when you are aiming to contribute somewhere remarkable.

volunteering resume

Why Invest Time in Volunteer Resume?

Some small scale scenario might not even require for you to have a resume however when you want to work for a big organization or contribute in a big scale initiative, you will most definitely need a carefully curated resume.

Especially when the volunteer work is sensitive and requires special skills and training, you will not have any option but to provide a good volunteer resume. For example, you want to work with an NGO providing counselling to children or an organization distributing medicine in rural areas, you will need proper training to qualify as a counsellor and a background that qualifies you to distribute medicines.

If you are here, you already understand the importance of writing a good volunteer resume. So read this article for all you need to know about volunteer resume. You can also check out our resume examples.

volunteering resume

Tips to Keep in Mind

While writing a volunteer resume requires different theme and information altogether, there are some basic tips that you need to keep in mind while writing a resume. These are some of the basic and simple yet defining characteristics of a good resume.

Visual Appeal

Visual appeal of a resume is in the fonts and line spacing. The font sizes of heading and details should have sensible difference. The font style should be simple. Line spacing should be just enough, if it is too much your resume will look empty and if it's not enough, your resume will look stuffy and chaotic. Determining the visual appeal is not difficult, just take a look at your resume and decide if it looks easy on your eyes or not.

You also need to make sure that any tables you use or the bullet points, are all within proper margins of the page. Make sure that the font colors, table outline colors and everything else is one ink only.

Content Flow

Another basic yet important aspect of a good resume is the way the content flow is established and maintained. Your sections and details should not be presented with no context and chronology. You need to establish a flow, usually the reverse-chronology flow is chosen by most people. You begin with your latest volunteer experience and walk back to the beginning.

Contact Information

As a volunteer you will be required to be easily reachable. Your contact information should be at the top and more importantly, accurate. Do not make any mistakes with this section. You should mention your contact number, e-mail id and LinkedIn profile link. You can also mention your address.

What You Need to Focus On?

As a volunteer, you may have some relevant experience, education and certifications/achievements. You need to focus on all of them. And skills are also not to be forgotten. Let's go over each section now so you can understand how to write everything in most optimized way.

Summary Section

Any resume has a summary of profile, job seekers give a summary of their impressive achievements, overall experience and skills in the summary section of their resume. Your resume for volunteer work should have your skills that are important for volunteer work, your relevant experience and any impact and difference you have made as a volunteer.

In addition, you need to highlight your passion for volunteer work, service to society and your willingness to invest all that is required. You should reflect that you have all that is required- volunteer qualities, time, energy and knowledge.

Education Section

Usually education always has learning aspects of real life and human values such as helping people, serving public and so on. You may have had medical education or engineering, you can always interpret your learning experiences from the perspective of serving to public. You can relate it to your decision to volunteer.

If you have studied a social work or such course then that becomes highly relevant, you can elaborate all you learned and how it inspired to become a volunteer and serve the society.

Even if your education was not directly relevant to the volunteer work or volunteer position you are applying for, you can still write how somewhere along the journey, during education, certain things steered you in the direction of volunteer work.

Experience Section

First of all, if you have no volunteering experience or even a professional experience, you can still elaborate your relevant experience of being helpful and of service to society, people around you or even individuals in your life or class in school/college, in your resume's volunteer experience section.

In your volunteer resume, experience section can make a big difference and it can make your resume stand out from your fellow applicants' resume.

For example, you can talk about how you helped your faculties with a book fest or how you were in the organizing committee of the cultural fest of your college and how you contributed and helped everyone.

Now, if you do have professional experience but no volunteer experience, you can talk about how your daily duties and responsibilities of job steered you or led you to volunteer work. You might have helped a colleague when they were stuck somewhere and needed help. You might have volunteered to organize an event at your company or contributed to the corporate social responsibility-activities, sponsored by your company.

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. -Shakespeare

In best case scenario, you have done volunteer work before and you have, for your resume, volunteer work experience to showcase. You should take the reverse-chronology approach in case you have multiple experiences of volunteer work experience.

You should try to use numbers i.e. how many people you helped. While details of what particular contribution you made are important, you should try to highlight all that was achieved and the results of the volunteer work that you did along with the collective results achieved by your fellow volunteers.

There are various kinds of volunteering work

  • Church volunteer work
  • Food/necessities distribution volunteer work
  • Education volunteer work
  • Bake sale volunteer

and many more, important part of elaborating these experiences is what you learnt and how you contributed.

A hiring manager that is looking for a volunteer would want to know your capacities and they are likely to get an idea of your capacities from reading what you successfully did and achieved. Did you meet your goal of the volunteering initiative? Did you make a significant difference for the target group of people for whom you volunteered? Was your contribution long lasting and meaningful?

👉Emphasizing once again, make sure you quantify your achievements, use numbers to increase credibility. Also ensure you reflect your awareness of what it means to be a volunteer and how much volunteer work means!

💡Do you know which country has the highest rate of volunteering participation? It's Sri Lanka! 46% of Sri Lankan population chooses to participate in volunteer work😱. Source: https://www.rosterfy.com/blog/25-impressive-volunteer-stats-volunteer-statistics-rosterfy#:~:text=Which%20country%20has%20the%20highest,%25)%20than%20men%20(21.8%25).

Skills Section

Skills section is pretty simple when it comes to volunteer work. While you may need specific skills such as counselling, generic or even specific computer (MS Office or) software knowledge, language proficiency and so on.

📌Most volunteer positions require some basic human skills such as-

  • Compassionate behavior
  • Leadership
  • Self-motivation
  • Dedication and commitment
  • Flexibility
  • Willingness for sacrifice
  • Effective Communication
  • Patience
  • Language Fluency
  • Teamwork

Some of the other requirements would be being able to convince people to co-operate, fundraising, teaching, data entry (for record keeping or tracking data collection and such), following directions, giving speech and being exhaustively understanding with everyone.

Among all, make sure you emphasize your communication and socializing skills. you cannot achieve results without being able to talk to people, connect with them genuinely and convince them. Your language proficiency, knowledge of local culture and socializing skills will be extremely important.

These skills are more important than everything else. You should also reflect these skills in other section of your resume for volunteer work. Your professional skills can help you lend a regular job with a pay but to get a volunteer position, you need to showcase your human side, your compassion and kindness.

Certifications Section

You need to have separate certifications section because many volunteer positions require certain education or experience, or at least some training and/or certifications.

⚠️For example, you cannot go in the field and start counselling people without a proper training and certifications. You cannot advice people on medication and health concerns without a medical training, education and certifications.

Apart from being absolute necessity, certifications also provide you with credibility of being capable of delivering your knowledge with skills as part of your volunteer work.

Certifications also help you get results with people because they feel at ease and confident when taking help from you. Someone who needs counselling, is more likely to be receptive and at ease, when they are counselled by a trained person with proper certifications and qualifications.

Hobbies/Interests Section

volunteering resume

Your usual resume for various jobs may not require hobbies/interests section but your volunteer resume can benefit from the same. You can elaborate your hobbies and if you are interested in volunteer work, it is likely that your hobbies will also reflect some relevant skills and passions for volunteer work.

Hobbies and interests' separate section will also make you look like a person who is lively, perhaps a people's person and good to have around, it will make you look interesting as well. You may want to list and highlight the relevant hobbies.

For example, if you are a voracious book reader and you are applying to volunteer at a book fair or books distribution initiative, you are likely to be selected because your hobby and the work you are applying for are closely related which will ensure your good performance.

Cover Letter

When you are applying for a volunteer position, your factual details are important however more important is the kind of person you are. Now, in your volunteer resume, you have experience, education, skills sections along with summary section. Although, that might not be enough to reflect all your human qualities.

Writing cover letters will give you the necessary space to properly elaborate the aspects such as your volunteering experience, your learnings from the volunteering experience, the kind of person you are, your passion, dedication and commitment for the cause you will be working for as a volunteer if selected and so on. Your resume sections may not be enough for good lengthy elaboration.

Your willingness to voluntarily work for the mission of the organization and to invest your energy and time, should be reflected with great emphasis. This is something that you will not find in any job description.


In conclusion, the important aspects of a volunteer resume are-

  • Relevant elaboration of education and experience
  • Reflect how you got inspired
  • Emphasize your passion and desire
  • Focus on your skills section

Apart from this, there is one more thing. While it is not optional to include all the relevant details and sticking to certain criteria of resume format, you can take the liberty of being a little creative. You can use a format that is less formal and a little artistic.

Your language can have a bit of informal tone while maintaining professionalism. Sometimes, when you volunteer, you work with children or women or disabled and all you need is to be compassionate, humane, light-hearted and fun. Being a bit liberated and relaxed instead of strictly professional, can come handy in these scenarios.

Although, make sure you don't cross any lines, maintain a good balance and reflect your sincerity and commitment for the volunteer work as well. The hiring manager should feel that you will be a perfect fit for their organization.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I'm a student with no certifications. Can I still volunteer?

Yes, society is in need of as many volunteers as possible and you are likely to find something that is suitable for you even without any certifications.

Do I get paid for volunteer work?

Volunteer work- terms mean you are working without an expectation of monetary or material compensation or reward. However, some organizations do offer minimal pay or stipend or material compensation to volunteers.

Does volunteer work make any difference for my career?

Absolutely! You can always add your volunteer experience to your resume for professional job. It will impress the hiring manager and highlight your willingness to be of service, helpful and kind to people. Hiring managers may not require all that but will always appreciate it in their potential employees.

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