What Volunteering Reveals About You to Employers

4 minute read

As an employer, I’ve skimmed hundreds of CVs, and what often makes me stop and read a bit closer is the ‘volunteering’ section. People who volunteer share several positive personality traits without even realising it. The problem is, lots of people volunteer but not everyone thinks it’s worth mentioning on their CV.

According to research conducted by the professional service network Deloitte, 82% of hiring managers are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering 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 volunteering 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 that will fit into their culture. And if you share similar interests to the rest of the team, it can only help to higher your chances for an interview.

For the non-profit 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 of 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.

What Volunteering Reveals About You to Employers

2. It shows that you have a growth mindset

If you like to volunteer at a non-profit company, it’s a sign that you never stop learning. Generally, volunteering 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 even allows you the chance to travel, which opens you up to new cultures and experiences you may not have come across before.

Nowadays, modern companies 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

Even if you feel that your employer doesn’t appreciate all the extra work you put in, trust me, they do. Every employer I’ve ever talked to told me the same thing: they love a go-getter.

If you’re volunteering, it 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. And if you’re applying for a job at a non-profit organisation, this is a key trait to showcase on your CV.


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4. It shows you have more than just role-related skills

Volunteer work doesn’t have to align with your current position – in fact, sometimes it’s better if it doesn’t. Whether it’s cooking for the homeless, taking care of social media for a non-profit or collecting garbage in the mountains, 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.

As an employer, I know that 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. Personally, my network has grown quite a bit thanks to volunteering. It helped me build lasting personal and professional relationships and improved my networking abilities.

For an employer, volunteering 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.

What Volunteering Reveals About You to Employers

So, how do you highlight volunteering 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

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 “real” experience. Mention the impact you had and the results from your involvement.

The last piece of advice I’d give you is to position your volunteering section on the first page of your CV. As you probably heard, recruiters and hiring managers spend around 6 seconds reading a CV, which often means they only check the first page.


Ready to get started?

Ready to get out there and start volunteering and learning about the non-profit world? Explore the different volunteering opportunities and see what strikes you. And once you’ve gotten out there, don’t forget to add it to your CV and Linkedin profile. If you still need additional inspiration, you can have a look at CV and resume examples to help get you started.

Have you been volunteering yourself? What skills have you acquired? Let us know in the comments!

Tatiana Rehmova

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.

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