3 Practical Tips to Make your Volunteer Experience Standout on Your Resume (and help you earn your dream job)

Alexandra Nemeth

Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Storytelling at MovingWorlds

Finding and earning your dream job is no easy process. But if you take the time to give back to your community, then your service might just give you the edge.

In a recent study, we found that volunteering experience on a resume helps people get their dream job.

“…many recruiters (and anybody related with recruiters) will appreciate volunteering as well as their professional experience.​​” – Krisno Dewanto,  IPR Consulting Company

Why does volunteer experience make your resume stand out?

Long story short, volunteering makes you a more interesting candidate. It shows you have more experience, that you take initiative, and care about things other than yourself.

More specifically, managers recognize that people with relevant volunteer experience, like Experteering overseas or at home, helps build key skills like problem-solving, leadership, grit, innovation, and emotional intelligence to name just a few.

“International experience (of any kind, personal or professional) leads to a greater life experience, which then leads to a greater awareness of needs. In my experience, candidates who have these things then have a greater ability to innovate.” – Monica Parker, President, SearchPoint Partners

It is important to note that not all volunteer experiences are created equal. Your volunteer experience will only help your resume and be valuable in interviews if it tells a good story. We previously wrote tips about how to make sure your volunteer experience makes a real impact and helps you get ahead.

How should I share my volunteer experience on my resume?

To leverage your experience correctly there are a number of things you should be doing while abroad that will give you the best material for your resume and interview. With the help of Janine Davis, Principal of Fetch Recruiting, Jane Finkle, Principal of Career Visions Inc. and Katie Kross, author of Profession and Purpose, we’ve been able to put together an outline of proper steps to make sure your experience stands out.

First: While it is OK to have a separate volunteer and interests section on your resume, if you did skills-based projects, DON’T put it in that section. Instead, add it under you actual work experience and call it “Experteering Project” or “Pro Bono Consulting”.

Second: Frame your volunteer work in this format: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. You can read more about this STAR technique here.

Third: Be clear about your responsibilities and what you accomplished. Provide metrics as much as possible. Highlight areas you went above and beyond, and include soft-skill highlights, like how you trained or mentored others around you.

Here is a real sample:

Experteering Project: Innovation Consulting Project with the American Cancer Society
2010 – 2011

  • Served on a task force with senior leaders across the organization exploring systems and processes to make the nonprofit more innovative to accelerate progress towards its mission
  • Led discovery interviews with internal staff and volunteers, as well as external “Examples” of innovative companies, including Amazon, SalesForce, and Google
  • Developed a proposal to adopt “lean startup thinking”, including process to support budgeting and staff evaluation changes to foster innovation
  • Our subgroup’s work was integrated into group’s overall proposal that was delivered to CEO and Board for signoff, which led to the creation of an innovation team and budget for the ACS

While we are the first to say that volunteering should be engaged in as unselfishly as possible, the truth is that, if you engage in skills-based projects, it will help you refine your career direction, and make you stand out during the hiring process.


In fact, we wrote an article on Huffington Post about why it’s OK to be Selfish in Your Service. However, if you want to help, shutup and listen, and then read these tips in WhyDev and Devex about important factors to consider in choosing an ethical volunteering project.

If you do engage in service to get ahead, we hope these tips will help you make your resume truly stand out, and that you find the career of your dreams!