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Volunteer Experience – Include It In Your Resume

10 Feb, 2012

Volunteer Experience – Include It In Your Resume

If you are reentering the job market and have relevant volunteer experience, be sure to include it. It counts!

A recent client wanted to reenter the job market after taking time off for children. Her earlier career had been in residential real estate and Xerox equipment sales. Her new job target was non-profit development. How did we position her for a development position in the non-profit arena? We focused heavily on her recent, highly relevant volunteer work.

In the resume profile, the client was described as a professional with over five years of volunteer leadership experience raising funds for a non-profit organization and two private schools. Because she was born and raised in the city in which she lived and graduated from a state school, we emphasized her extensive network of contacts in the city and the state.

The experience section of her resume focused on her volunteer work rather than her earlier sales positions. The client had been approached by a board member of an adoption agency to form a junior board to help raise funds for the organization. Below is the description we used after her title of Founder/President of Junior Board:

Handpicked by director of development and member of board of directors to establish and lead a junior board to increase awareness of the organization and raise additional funds. Recruited 10 initial members for board that grew to 20+. Played key role in formulating board’s focus and bylaws. Directed monthly meetings and built members’ passion for and understanding of the organization through guest and staff speakers.

That brief description demonstrated several important factors. The client had been carefully selected by a board member, so obviously the board member knew she was up to the job and that she possessed the leadership, networking, and relationship building skills necessary to establish a strong board. It also showcased her ability to build enthusiasm for the organization’s mission-a key attribute in development work.

Following the job description we created a few bullets that highlighted her achievements:

  • Led board in first annual fundraiser that generated $75,000+ in 2007 and $125,000+ in 2008; helped establish fundraiser’s budget and solicited corporate and silent auction sponsors.
  • Awarded first-ever “Open-the-door” award given only to those volunteers who exceed all expectations.

These achievements gave quantifiable results and demonstrated how much the organization appreciated the efforts of this client. She had demonstrated a commitment to excellence as a volunteer, a quality that would surely transfer to a paid position.
Also included in the experience section was the client’s participation on a private school’s capital campaign committee. We highlighted the fact that she was the first volunteer to attain 100% parent participation, information that would certainly catch the eye of a potential employer. In addition we included her membership on her high school’s chapter board, her leadership of its three-day fundraiser, and her participation in the school’s annual fund telethons.

This client had also served as swim team representative for her children’s swim team. Why was this important to include? She co-managed six swim meets and recruited and directed up to 50 parents per event. This experience reemphasized her organizational, coordination, relationship building, and recruiting skills-all important in development work.

Did this approach work for the client? Yes! When the adoption agency heard she was interviewing at other non-profits for a development position, they created a position there for her!

Whether or not you are reentering the job market, if you have relevant volunteer experience, be sure to include it. It might be the deciding factor in your selection for the position!

Betty Williams

Want to learn more about this career professional? Check out a full list of career articles, contact information, and biographical info by visiting her Career Experts member profile. LEARN MORE

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