How to Write a Volunteer Resume [+Example for 2021]

25 March
9 min read

You’ve found something you believe in.

You want to help as much as you can.

But first, you need a resume that highlights your best attributes. 

Well, allow us to help you with this resume guide for all volunteers!

Specifically, we’ll dive into:

  • A job-winning volunteer resume example
  • How to create a volunteer resume that hiring managers love
  • Volunteer-specific tips and tricks to make your resume stand out

Now, before we move on, here’s a volunteer resume example, created with our very own resume builder:

volunteer resume sample

Follow the steps in this guide to create a job-winning resume of your own! 

How to Format a Volunteer Resume

Here’s a fact for you:

Your resume isn’t the only one on the recruiter’s desk.

In fact, they have a TON to get through, which is why recruiters tend to skim-read as they go through the pile of resumes.

This means you need to make your information clear and concise. 

You can do this by using the best resume format for volunteer resumes. 

The most common resume format is “reverse-chronological”, so we’d recommend this format for your resume…

reverse chronological format volunteer

There are two other popular formats that you could try:

  • Functional Resume – Choose this format if you have many skills, but don’t have any real experience. Essentially, this format is ideal for volunteers who are seeking a role they have never held
  • Combination Resume – As the name suggests, a combination resume is a combination of “Functional” and “Reverse-Chronological”. As such, this format is perfect for volunteers who have both skills and experience

Once you’ve decided on the format, you need to get your resume layout right.

For a professional resume layout, here’s what we recommend:

Margins - the margins are set automatically according to recruiters in the editor.

Font - Pick a font that stands out, but not too much. 

  • Do: Ubuntu, Roboto, etc. 
  • Don’t: Comic Sans

Resume Length - Don’t go over the 1-page limit. If you’re having trouble fitting everything into one page? You may want to view these one-page resume templates.

Use a Volunteer Resume Template

You have a number of options when it comes to resume writing tools.

Now, Word may be your first choice, but we invite you to reconsider.

You see, building your own resume in a text-editing tool can result in massive formatting issues. 

The alternative is to use a volunteering resume template by choosing from one of the templates here.

This will ensure your resume looks professional at all times. 

What to Include in a Volunteer Resume

The main sections in a volunteer resume are:

For a resume that stands out, even more, try adding these optional sections:

  • Awards & Certification
  • Personal Projects
  • Languages
  • Interests & Hobbies

It’s now time to go through each of those sections, and explain how to write them...

Not sure which sections to use for your resume? Check out our guide to What to Put on a Resume.

How to Correctly Write Your Contact Information

The tips in this guide will help with creating the best volunteer resume possible.

But those tips are worthless if mistakes are made in this section.

For your contact section, follow these rules:

  • Full Name
  • Title - Make this specific to the role you’re applying for
  • Phone Number - Quadruple check this! 
  • Email Address - Make sure to use a professional email address (firstname.lastname@gmail.com)
  • Portfolio Link or personal website
  • (Optional) Relevant Social Media - e.g.: LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, etc.
  • (Optional) Location - Applying for a job abroad? Mention your location.

Correct Example:

Stephen Johnson, Volunteer. 101-358-6095. stephenjohnson@gmail.com

Incorrect Example:

Stephen Johnson, Volunteering Viking. 101-358-6095. 123johnson123@gmail.com

How to Write a Volunteer Resume Summary or Objective

The volunteer industry is just as competitive as any other employment opportunity.

In fact, most volunteering jobs have hundreds of applicants applying to become a volunteer for the greater good. 

As such, just telling the recruiter how passionate you are won’t cut it. 

So how do you catch the recruiter’s attention and stand out?

You need to show your value straight away!

You can do this with a resume summary or objective, which are attention-grabbing paragraphs that sit at the top of your resume. 

summary for volunteering resume

Although the two are very similar, there are a couple of differences… 

A resume summary is a 2-4 sentence summary of your professional experiences and achievements.

Volunteer Resume Summary Example

Experienced and passionate volunteer with 5+ years of experience in helping various foundations with their aspirations. Notable highlights include managing an event with 2,000 attendees, scoring 99.5% positive feedback rates, and raising $67,302 revenue when leading a bake sale.]

A resume objective is a 2-4 sentence snapshot of your professional goals and aspirations.

Volunteer Resume Objective Example

A hard-working volunteer seeks a chance to make a difference with The National Trust. Experience includes working as a temp events volunteer during the summer term. Able to handle a variety of tasks, including greeting the public, preparing activities, and operating POS systems.

So, which option should a volunteer in your situation pick? 

All volunteers have their own specific background, but generally, resume summaries are the best option for those who have a relevant job history, whereas an objective summary is the best option for those with little to no work experience. 

How to Make Your Work Experience Stand Out

Regardless of the type of charity you apply for, they all have one thing in common…

They want to see your work experience.  

Sure, your core skills are important too, but experience always wins. Start with your most recent experience, and then work backwards. Here’s a winning work experience structure…

  • Position name
  • Company Name
  • Dates Employed
  • Responsibilities & Achievements

In practice, it should look this:

Event Volunteer

National Trust

01/2019 – 03/2020

  • Prepared for a 2,000 person event in 8 hours – this involved setting up trails, preparing craft activities, and ensuring complete information and signage
  • Provided a warm and friendly welcome at all events, which resulted in a 99.5% positive feedback score
  • In charge of running the cake sale, which resulted in $8.302 revenue for the foundation

As shown above, you want to show some impressive achievements, not minor tasks.

So, instead of saying:

“greeted visitors”

Go for:

“Provided a warm and friendly welcome at all events, which resulted in a 99.5% positive feedback score”

So, what’s the difference between the two?

The second statement goes into more depth about how your presence had a positive impact on the event and the foundation. This clearly shows that you’re someone who should be hired immediately. 

What if You Don’t Have Experience?

Maybe you’re a recent university graduate with no job experience?

Or maybe you have worked many jobs, but never volunteered for a charity?

Don’t worry, we have the solution.

All you need are a few core skills and a desire to learn.

And this can be shown with school projects or experiences from related jobs. 

For example, if you’ve ever worked as a customer service representative, you can talk about any crossover skills and experiences. Just like a volunteer in a public-facing role, you were friendly and dealt with various concerns. 

If you’re a recent graduate, you might want to check out our guide on how to make a student resume!

Use Action Words to Make Your Volunteer Resume POP!

Flick through a bunch of volunteering resumes, and you’ll notice one thing.

They all include these same words. 

And since you want your resume to stand out, we recommend using power words instead.

Here is a list of power words to make your achievements stand out:

  • Conceptualized
  • Designed
  • Devised
  • Determined
  • Drafted
  • Formulated
  • Introduced
  • Initiated
  • Launched
  • Originated
  • Spearheaded

How to List Your Education Correctly

Welcome to the education section!

If your experience section isn’t the best, your education is where you need to shine.

Simply list out your education entries, like this:

  • Degree Type & Major
  • University Name
  • Years Studied
  • GPA, Honours, Courses, and anything else you might want to add

Example:

B.A. Nursing Management  

University of Chicago

2017- 2020

Courses: Anatomy and Physiology, Nursing Care, Mental Health, Sociological and Psychological Aspects of Healthcare, Approaches to Research

GPA: 3.9

Before we conclude this section, here are some of the most frequent questions we get from volunteers (and their answers!):

What if I haven’t finished education?

  • Whether you’re still a student, or finished school years ago, you should mention the years/courses studied so far in your life

Should I include my high school education?

  • Only include your high school education if you haven’t gone on to further education

What is more important, education or experience?

  • Experiences always come before education

Need more answers? Check out our guide on how to list education on a resume.

Top 10 Skills for a Volunteer Resume

When the recruiter is reviewing your resume, they want to see that you’re skilled enough to complete the work they require.  

You see, the resume reviewer will have been given a brief regarding the desired job skills. 

As such, the skills section should reflect the needs of the job.

Need some inspiration?

It’ll depend on the specific volunteering job that you’re applying for, but here are some of the most common and desirable skills:

Hard Skills for Volunteers:

  • Data Entry
  • Point-of-Sale Systems
  • Microsoft Office
  • CPR Certified 
  • Phone Desk Operation

Soft Skills for Volunteers:

  • Communication
  • Leadership 
  • Teamwork
  • Strategic thinking
  • Empathy

Looking for a more comprehensive list? Here’s a mega-list of 100+ must-have skills.

Other Resume Sections You Can Include on a Volunteering Resume

Now, there’s a good chance that the other candidates will have similar volunteering experiences to you.

But if this is the case, won’t your resume look the same as all the others?

Well yes. That’s why we recommend adding a few of the following sections to make your resume stand out. 

Awards & Certifications

Your volunteering work will impress the recruiter.

But don’t leave things there.

Have you completed any courses to improve your skills?

Have you ever been awarded for your duties?

Be sure to mention everything that you’re proud of. Well, only if it is relevant to the volunteering position. 

Awards & Certificates Examples

  • Sales Training: Building Your Sales Career – Coursera Certificate
  • Best Business Pitch Award – University of Texas
  •  Learning How to Learn – Coursera Certificate
  • CPR Certification

Languages

Your resume shows the assets you can offer to the foundation.

Even though being bilingual may not be an essential skill, it is another asset that your future employer can call upon.  

If this relates to you, and you have space in your resume, definitely include a languages section.

Make sure to split the languages by proficiency:

  • Native
  • Fluent
  • Proficient
  • Intermediate
  • Basic

Interests & Hobbies

The recruiter should now be interested in hiring you.

But before they do, they will want to know more about your personal side. 

As such, it can be a good idea to talk about your hobbies and interests.  

If you’re not sure which hobbies & interests to mention, you can read our guide! 

Include a Cover Letter with Your Resume

You’re a volunteer because you want to make a difference.

Resumes are great for showing your skills and experiences, but you want the foundation to know WHY you want to volunteer for them. 

Cover letters show that you want to work with THIS specific charity.

As such, a cover letter can significantly boost your chances of obtaining the position.

Here’s how to get the structure right:

volunteer cover letter structure

And here’s what to write in each section:

Contact Details

Your personal contact information, including full name, profession, email, phone number, and location.

Hiring Manager’s Contact Information

Full name, position, location, email

Opening Paragraph

Your introduction should be strong enough to hook the hiring manager, so mention:

  • The volunteering position you’re applying for
  • Your experience summary and top achievements as a volunteer (or most relevant)

The Body

Once you’ve got the hiring manager hooked, you can go through the rest of your background. Some of the points you can mention here are:

  • Why you want to volunteer for this specific foundation
  • Anything you know about the culture
  • What are your top skills and how are they relevant for the job
  • If you’ve ever volunteer before 

Closing Paragraph

This is where you:

  • Wrap up any points you missed in the body paragraph
  • Thank the hiring manager for their time
  • End with a call to action. Something like, “I’d love to further discuss how my experience as an X can help the company with Y”

Formal Salutations

Use a formal closing, such as “Best regards” or “Sincerely.”

View our how-to write a cover letter guide for extra guidance.

Key Takeaways

Congrats!

Followed the steps in this guide? Then you’re in the best position to get that role you’re applying for.

Before we finish up, let’s quickly go through everything we’ve learned:

  • Select the right formatting for your resume. Try the reverse-chronological format, and then follow the best practices in regards to the layout. Remember, keep your resume needs to look professional
  • Use a resume summary or objective to immediately catch the recruiter’s attention
  • For the work experience section, talk more about your achievements, instead of your daily responsibilities
  • Write a compelling and convincing cover letter