Job Search Question Of The Week: How Should I Include Volunteer Positions On My Resume?

Oct 18 2011 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

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At the end of my Resume Revolution complimentary webinars (enroll at, I open up the floor to job search questions … from you.

This was an interesting job search question asked by G.M. during a recent webinar:

“I have a question about how to position volunteer boards on my resume and LI profile. I sit on a BoD for a non-profit agency, and have been invited to fill a (volunteer) position on a prominent committee at a local teaching hospital.”

The biggest question you should ask yourself about volunteer experience is: “Is it relevant to the job I’m applying to?”

If the volunteer experience is relevant to your next position, you would be wise to feature it prominently, and focus your reader’s attention to it.

So if you’re on the board of a non-profit hospital, and you’re applying for a job in hospital administration, it’s easy to where the board position could be relevant.

But what if you’re looking for a job at a manufacturing company?

If you want to use volunteer experience to beef up your resume but it’s not obviously relevant to the position you seek, you’ll want to find individual accomplishments and/or experiences that are relevant to your target position.

For instance, if you seek a finance role, you’ll want to focus your reader on how you led projects that cut costs. If you’re looking for a marketing role, you’ll want to expand on projects or committees you led that developed new products/services, revenue streams, or added revenue.

Your experience can be relevant because of common industry, or it can be relevant because of what you did while in the position and what types of problems you solved for the organization.

However, you may also have volunteer experiences that aren’t relevant to your next target position and don’t have aspects that will be important to your reader.

Keep in mind the WIFT concept (What’s In it For Them): If your experience isn’t relevant to your reader, then don’t emphasize it just because it’s important to you (WIFM – What’s In it For Me). To learn more about WIFT see .

So if the volunteer position on the prominent committee isn’t relevant to your next job, you can certainly still list the volunteer position. Just put the position in a place that gets less attention, in a volunteer or community service section of your resume, after education.

This isn’t saying that the experience is any less worthy, but if it’s not relevant to your next employer, don’t include it in places that will get a high degree of employer notice. You want your employer to notice the types of experiences that will make them think you’re perfect for the job, right? Chances are, your role on the condo board or PTA probably aren’t going to be relevant.

But if you want to use this experience as a “gap filler”, make sure it’s WIFT … and not just WIFM.


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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