Young woman in a business suit with glasses, focused and holding a pencil, reviewing volunteer experience on resume on a clipboard

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links.

From pursuing your passion to giving back to your community, volunteer work has a great deal of value. But volunteer work also comes with an added bonus that’s a little more self-serving: it can enhance your resume. 

Here, we’ll explain when it’s a good idea to include volunteer experience on your resume and show you how to use unpaid work to help you land the paid position you want. 

Should you include volunteer work on your resume?

If you’re wondering whether volunteer work belongs on a resume, you may have heard conflicting advice on the topic. Some say your resume should be limited to professional experience only. However, this discounts the real value volunteer experience can add to your overall qualifications. The key is choosing what’s relevant and appropriate to include at what point in your career. 

Putting volunteer work on your resume is fitting if you:

Are a student or recent graduate

While it’s understood that you might have little work experience at this stage of your career, showcasing volunteer work helps employers see that you’re dependable and you spend your time in meaningful ways.

Have been laid off

While stigmas are thankfully changing, a recent layoff can give prospective employers pause. Putting volunteer work on your resume communicates that you’re doing something productive with your time and keeping your skills sharp while you look for your next professional opportunity. 

Have extensive volunteer experience relevant to your field

If you’re a biologist and you’ve spent the last five years volunteering somewhere like your local marine wildlife center, it’s an absolutely valuable experience to include on your resume. 

Are looking to change careers

Volunteer work doing something that’s adjacent to the role you want can help you gain practical experience and hone new skills that will aid in your transition. 

Have relevant skills in an unexpected area

For example, your time volunteering as a Spanish tutor could make you a strong candidate for a bilingual role in the business world. Putting this experience on your resume will bring this capability to a hiring manager’s attention. 

Are in an industry that values volunteerism

Some industries, such as healthcare, nonprofits, and education, emphasize and encourage volunteer work. If this is the case for your field, putting it on your resume can tip the scales in your favor when you’re looking for a job.

Reasons to include volunteer work on your resume

There are many benefits to including volunteer work on your resume. Here are some of the biggest ones:

Though volunteer work isn’t paid, make no mistake that it is work! It requires tangible skills, many of which may apply to the job you want. Volunteer positions show employers that you have real-world experience performing duties similar to those you’d be doing in a paid job, like organizing documents, overseeing projects, working with people, etc. 

Demonstrate soft skills

Volunteering can help you perfect soft skills like communication, creativity, and teamwork, which employers highly value. As you’re applying for jobs, use the various job descriptions to decipher which soft skills are most important in the role and find related examples to highlight from your volunteer experience. 

Highlight adaptability

Unlike a paid job, which typically comes with formal onboarding and training, volunteer work often requires you to learn on the fly and wear many hats. Volunteer roles show employers that you’re adaptable and won’t shy away from learning new things. 

Exemplify strong character

Working without pay to support a cause you care about is admirable. Recruiters are always working to discern a candidate’s true character, and having volunteer experience on your resume is a concrete example of your values in action. Plus, it’s great to talk about if you’re asked a question like “What are you passionate about?” during a job interview. 

How to include volunteer work on your resume

1. Decide where to put it

You have a few options here. If you’re using a traditional resume format, your resume will be separated into sections like education, experience, and skills. Your first option is to include volunteer work in the ‘experience’ section alongside paid jobs. This works best if the volunteer roles are directly relevant to the job you’re applying for (i.e., in the same industry or with the same duties) or if you’re a recent grad without any work experience. 

Your second option is to create a dedicated section for volunteering. This works well if you have a lot of volunteer experience to showcase or if the work isn’t directly tied to the position you’re seeking. 

Your third option is a combination of the above. List very pertinent volunteer work under ‘experience’ and less pertinent work under another section like ‘volunteering,’ ‘skills,’ or ‘community involvement.’ 

We’ll show examples of all of these formatting options below. 

2. Give yourself a title

No, don’t make one up. The point here is clearly communicating that this is a volunteer role, not a paid one. Ideally, use the title to give some context to the type of work you were doing, like this:

Volunteer camp counselor

Community development volunteer

Mentorship program coordinator (volunteer)

When in doubt, simply using ‘volunteer’ as your title works, too. 

3. Include the name of the organization and your service dates

This is specifically for if you’re including volunteer work in your ‘experience’ section since you want it to flow seamlessly with any paid jobs that are also listed. 

Looking for a professional resume writing service to do the heavy lifting? We suggest using BeamJobs!

4. Summarize key responsibilities

Here’s where you can really make your volunteer work shine. Don’t stop short of merely saying you volunteered with an organization. Give tangible examples of your duties and call out any noteworthy achievements you made. 

Use action-oriented language, like:

Compiled and organized records for a database of more than 500 donors

Cleaned up 200+ acres of parkland over a two-year period

Coordinated with local business owners to raise $10,000 for multiple myeloma research

5. Incorporate keywords from the job posting

This is key to making your volunteer experience relevant to hiring managers (and deciding whether to include it in the first place). 

Take a close look at the job posting and identify the important keywords–we have a complete guide on how to find the right keywords to use here. These are things like skills, credentials, and duties that recruiters and resume screening software will be looking for when deciding who to interview. Once you’ve listed the top keywords for the job, work them into your volunteer descriptions. 

Examples of volunteer work on a resume

Example 1: Volunteer work in experience section

Madeline Wu

Falls Church, VA

[email protected]


Empathetic and dedicated RN with five years of experience caring for patients in fast-paced, high-stress environments. 


Clinical care



IV management

Care plans



Registered Nurse – Falls Church Medical Center, December 2019 to present

  • Provide high-quality care to 10+ patients a day
  • Evaluate, record, and monitor medical conditions 
  • Interface with physicians, family members, and patient advocates to ensure a clear and detailed care plan

Nursing Network Volunteer – American Red Cross, June 2018 to present

  • Act as an on-call emergency response nurse during crises and natural disasters
  • Plan and execute two annual community blood drives 
  • Assist in volunteer training and education


MS in Nursing, George Washington University

Example 2: Volunteer work in dedicated section

Ria Vasquez

Sedona, AZ

[email protected]

Professional Experience

Accountant – Finn & Bradley, February 2022 to present

  • Led a team of six accountants and assistants in performing budget analyses and forecasting
  • Made recommendations to aid in strategic decision-making, including advising on two acquisitions totaling over $10M in assets
  • Prepared, reviewed, and filed timely and accurate tax returns

Accounting Assistant – Quest Manufacturing, July 2018 to January 2022

  • Managed over $1M in annual accounts payable on 25+ accounts
  • Made recommendations to improve billing efficiency, resulting in a 13% increase in timely payments
  • Prepared financial reports, maintained accurate records, generated invoices, and processed payments


Accounts payable

Accounts receivable 

GL reconciliation





BA in Accounting, Arizona State University

Volunteer Experience

  • Animal rescue volunteer, Sun Valley Humane Society
  • Youth counselor, Sedona CARES
  • Phone drive operator, Feeding America

Example 3: Volunteer work in two different sections

Marco Booth

Augusta, GA

[email protected]


Dependable, detail-oriented construction worker seeking to leverage my leadership and project management experience in a site manager role


Site Worker – HBA Homes, July 2020 to present

  • Worked as part of a six-person team on residential renovations, including bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor living spaces, and entire homes
  • Followed project directions regarding timelines and site resources to ensure work was completed on schedule and within budget 
  • Aided in coordinating 5+ subcontract crews

Construction Volunteer – Habitat for Humanity, September 2018 to March 2020

  • Completed numerous construction tasks, including framing, roofing, flooring, and cabinetry
  • Ensured work was completed in compliance with all relevant building codes
  • Worked efficiently as part of a team using strong communication skills


  • Demolition
  • Carpentry
  • Machinery operation – bulldozer, backhoe, forklift
  • Drywall
  • Painting
  • OSHA compliance

Community Involvement

  • Active member of the Richmond County Home Builders Association
  • Volunteer, 2022 + 2023 Savannah River Cleanup

Including volunteer work on your resume can showcase your skills, dedication, passion, and involvement, setting you apart from other candidates. Whether you need to make up for lack of professional experience or you want to supplement your existing workforce skills, highlighting volunteer experience demonstrates commitment and professionalism, which are attractive qualities employers look for in a job candidate.  

Looking for more help crafting the perfect resume? We have an entire library of resume samples and recommendations!

Home / Career Advice / Resume Advice / How to Include Volunteer Work on Your Resume (With Examples)
Pete Newsome headshot


Pete Newsome is the founder of zengig, which he created after more than two decades in staffing and recruiting. He’s also President of 4 Corner Resources, the Forbes America's Best Staffing and Recruiting Firm he founded in 2005, and is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance. In addition to his passion for staffing, Pete is now committed to zengig becoming the most comprehensive source of expert advice, tools, and resources for career growth and happiness. When he’s not in the office or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his career knowledge and expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Finding Career Zen & Hire Calling podcasts. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn