What Volunteer Experience Reveals About You to Employers
People who volunteer share positive personality traits without even realising it. The problem is, lots of people have volunteer experience but not everyone thinks it’s worth mentioning on their CV.
Does volunteering count as work experience?
Volunteer experience very much counts as experience, as even though it isn’t paid work―you’re still gaining valuable skills and knowledge. According to research conducted by Deloitte, 82% of hiring managers are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience, and 85% of those are willing to overlook other CV flaws when a candidate includes volunteer work.
Volunteering illustrates a lot about your character, both as an individual and a professional―and this can be the thing that pushes you out of the CV pile and into a new position. Here are the top five things volunteer experience reveals about you to potential employers.
1. It shows that you’re passionate
For many sectors, showcasing your passions on a CV can seem like overkill, but that’s not always the case. Employers are constantly on the lookout for people who will fit into their culture. And if you share similar interests to the rest of the team, it can only help to increase your chances of getting an interview.
For the charity sector in particular, passion is a vital skill because it shows you’re willing to work hard and dedicate yourself entirely to the organisation’s cause. The more of a connection you have with their mission, the more attractive a candidate you become.
Including volunteer experience on your CV can demonstrate whether you’re a hard worker or a creative person, whether you’re ambitious or prefer tasks to be assigned to you. You’d be surprised about just how much it reveals to hiring managers.
2. It shows that you have a growth mindset
If you like to volunteer, it’s a sign that you never stop learning. Generally, volunteer experience helps with developing new skills and even discovering new passions. You’re learning new things not only about yourself but also about the world around you. Volunteering can even allow you the chance to travel, which opens you up to new cultures and experiences you may not have come across before.
Nowadays, modern organisations look for candidates with a growth mindset. They want employees who are dedicated and hardworking. People with this type of mindset strive to learn, they see problems as opportunities and they persist despite obstacles.
3. It shows you like to spend your time proactively
Volunteering signals that you’re a proactive person and you like to spend your time wisely, investing it in something you love or care about. Few people are willing to do things for free and your potential employer will appreciate it. If you’re applying for a job at a non-profit organisation, this is a key trait to showcase on your CV.
4. It shows you have more than just role-related skills
Your volunteer experience doesn’t have to align with your current position―in fact, sometimes it’s better if it doesn’t. Whether it’s cooking for those experiencing homelessness, taking care of social media for a non-profit or working in a charity shop, you need to develop certain skills and knowledge outside your normal skill set. The fact that you’re actively doing this proves you’re eager to learn new things.
Volunteer workers don’t succeed because of their professional skills. To persist, they need ambition, personal drive and strength to drive change. These are the skills everyone would love their team members to have.
5. It shows you have connections
It’s amazing how many people you can meet while volunteering. They all have different life stories, experiences or ways of dealing with life setbacks. Volunteering can help you to build lasting personal and professional relationships and improve your networking abilities.
For an employer, having volunteer experience suggests that you’re well-connected and you’re good at communicating in a variety of situations. These skills are pretty much the basis for any position.
So, how do you highlight volunteer experience on your CV?
Now that you know the why of showcasing volunteer experience, it’s time to talk about the how. There are a few vital details you should incorporate to help hiring managers get a good taste of the work you’ve done as a volunteer. These include:
- Where you volunteered
- The program you volunteered for (with a link to their website if possible)
- When you volunteered and for how long
You should position your volunteer experience in a volunteering section on the first page of your CV. You might have heard that recruiters and hiring managers spend around 6 seconds reading a CV, which often means they only check the first page.
As you can imagine, if you were an active volunteer for a month almost ten years ago, this won’t have as much of an impact as something you’re doing right now or for a longer period of time. When it comes to describing your responsibilities, it’s the same as with your professional employment. Mention the impact you had and the results from your involvement.
And don’t forget to add your volunteer experience to your CV and LinkedIn profile. If you still need additional inspiration, you can have a look at to help get you started.
Ready to get out there and start volunteering and learning about the charity sector? Explore the different volunteering opportunities and see what strikes you.
Looking to put your skills into practise? Browse paid opportunities in the sector.
This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.
Tatiana Rehmova works in Media Relations and Content at Enhancv. She's a glass half-full kind of a girl and a believer that everything happens for a reason. She loves writing, spotting inspiring stories, and building meaningful relationships.