Pump up your Resume with Volunteer Work

I met some stellar candidates this week.  They were in various stages of their job searches.  Some were just starting to think about looking. Others were deep in their search journey.

One of the things that struck me was that most of them had left community work and extracurricular activities were absent from their resumes.

They had focused so much on getting their experience and skills right that they had not considered the activities and responsibilities that they take on outside of their core work tasks.

Being a gourmet cook or an elite triathlete is laudable that’s not the sort of thing I am talking about.  We usually remember to put those types of activities on our resumes.   It’s the under the radar, “it was just part of my job” things that I think we are missing.

One of the candidates sits on a special philanthropic committee at his company.  That says a lot about him. It says a lot that about his standing in the company he would be selected for that role. It also has a different decision making level that his regular work and that’s relevant also.

One of the other candidates sits on industry working groups that advocate and deal with industry wide issues. That gives him a much wider view on his industry than the average person might have.  Employers notice that.

These sorts of activities are often overlooked as recognizable achievements either because we don’t see their value to an outsider or we just consider it to be part of the role.

Try this:  look at your calendar for the last couple of weeks.   Which activities and meetings were not directly related to your day to day responsibilities?  Maybe you are on your local United Way board or maybe you help organize a charity ride/

The fact that you are willing to lend your time to these activities and more importantly, that you are able to balance those things with the rest of your life are the things that really make you stand out as a candidate.

They also give an interviewer additional material to probe and provide a platform for you to display knowledge and responsibility that other candidates would not have.

So make sure you are getting the full value out of all that you do.  You just never know when that clown school committee work might come in handy.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Pump up your Resume with Volunteer Work

  1. I very much agree to the recommended addition to a resume. The fact is that you mentioned the hiring company noticing these and understanding the meaning of these positions. Sadly many recruiting professionals do not understand the meaning behind a volunteer position such as you mentioned. Its often overlooked. Too much focus is on paid job experience. Don’t get me wrong I am not a huge fan of volunteering 30 hours a week since many companies miss use this to increase profit margins by free labor. So I say yes to it but, with caution to where and what you volunteer and how much weight it hold in the real world. Realistically volunteering takes time and work so it should be looked at as if that person has a paid position.

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