When You Should List Volunteer Work On Your Resume

There’s one section of your resume that usually gets left behind or de-emphasized: unpaid work experience. However, perhaps it’s time to take a new look at all the volunteer work that you do. According to the latest research, corporations and other employers may be very interested in what you’re doing to make your life meaningful outside of the workplace.


A researcher and professor of organizational psychology at Wharton, Adam Grant has some thoughts on this topic that are causing companies and employers to reconsider their position on extracurricular activities. Adam regularly advises companies like Google on how to maximize their employees’ job experience and how to get the most from their employees in terms of efficiency and productivity. His latest book, “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success,” argues that the biggest unused motivator for people is their sense of service to others. In other words, framing the work we do in terms of service, rather than our personal gain, actually boosts productivity. If companies can redirect their employees’ outlook from “How much am I making” to “How much am I helping the community,” then they will have more productive and efficient employees who are happier in their jobs. Volunteer work is a great way to cultivate this mentality.

Now, how does this research fit into your resume? Not only should you feel good about your altruism, you should highlight these contributions on your resume. Volunteer work lets your employer know that you’re able to give back while presenting an opportunity for you to discuss how you plan to apply the same kind of meaning to your work in the office. In addition, for those with large gaps in their resume, such as stay-at-home moms who are trying to get back into the workforce, volunteer work is a great way to showcase how you developed your skills outside the traditional work realm.

So if you aren’t volunteering, get out there and give back. Your resume and employer will thank you for it. And if you already more, make sure your resume reflects your good deeds. Chances are your next employer will value you more for it.


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