A reader writes…
If I volunteer in the community, should I include that in my résumé?
Hands down, no question about it, you should DEFINITELY include volunteer work in your résumé. In fact, sometimes the skills, experience, and responsibilities associated with your work as a volunteer will be more relevant than that of your previous jobs. Just because you were not paid to do something does not make it any less relevant or credible.
For those of you who are just starting your job search and do not have an employment history, you will want to list your volunteer work under the category “Work Experience.” For others, you may want to include a separate section called “Community Service” (or something similar). You should probably present your Community Service as secondary in importance to your Work Experience, in this case.
The key is to present the information in such a way that it documents and supports your career goal. In other words, you want to feature the skills and experience (whether paid or unpaid) that make you unique – and that ultimately emphasize to employers why YOU should be selected for the position.
My friends at Monster.com posted a detailed article on “How to Leverage Volunteer Work on Your Resume.” It includes several pointers that I think you’ll find interesting and helpful!