How to Promote Your Volunteering in a CV
18 January 2016 at 9:22 am
More than just building character, volunteering can add extra value to a CV especially when promoted the right way, writes Not for Profit recruiting expert Philip Mayers.
Volunteering for a Not for Profit is one of those very rare perfect examples of a win-win-win.
The volunteer gains new skills and experience, the NFP receives free “labour” and – most important of all – the individuals (or causes) the NFP supports are the ones who benefit from services the NFP might not have been able to otherwise provide.
Most people don’t pursue volunteering just because it “looks good on the CV”. They do it for a wide variety of reasons; a connection to the organisation, a passion for the cause, a friend invites you to come along, it’s fun, you have spare time and get sick of watching TV, you want to learn new skills, you want to meet new people. The list is as long as your arm.
There comes a time, however, when your expertise as a volunteer becomes a real asset. You’re proud of the contribution you’ve made and you’ve learned a whole range of new skills. So how do you let people know about your new skills in a way that can help you to get your next job or move into the NFP sector?
There are many styles of CV, but most of them only refer to volunteer experience in a solitary line on the last page.
“Volunteer at XYZ Youth Services” tells the reader very little.
You need to do much more than that, especially if you’re on the job market. Retrenchments are becoming more common nowadays, and people between jobs are finding more free time to undertake volunteering – gaining experience that can be extremely valuable.
If you’re between jobs, why not offer to volunteer for a project that will give you experience in successfully managing a task from start to finish, that will keep your skills honed, earn you kudos from an appreciative NFP that will be delighted to serve as a referee, and make you feel positive about yourself at a time when things might seem challenging?
So, how do you get the message across in your CV?
When referring to volunteer experience in your CV, make sure you include the following:
1. Give a brief but impactful statement about the organisation for which you’ve been volunteering.
2. Describe your role as a volunteer, and how you contributed towards the organisation’s programs.
3. Point out new experiences, competencies or skills that you’ve gained.
4. Note particular achievements of which you are proud.
5. Tell them how this will help you in your regular job.
6. Obtain a written reference to confirm the great work you’ve done.
You can also interweave this information into your general skills and strengths, and include your volunteer achievements in your work achievements.
More than just building character, volunteering can add extra value to your CV in a very special way. Take a fresh look at your CV, and consider a new way to let people know that you’ve had much wider experience than just your daytime job.
About the author: Philip Mayers is the Director of Dakin Mayers & Associates. He has recruited over 600 Senior Executives in health, community services, education and fundraising. He is committed to the sector and has served on a number of Boards including the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Royal District Nursing Service. He has a BA, LLB and is a chartered Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI).