3 Ways to Strategically Highlight Your Volunteer Experiences

At last night's Strategic Volunteering Networking Hour, we enjoyed a fantastic workshop with Girls Incorporated of Greater Atlanta CEO Heather Rocker.  She shared her ingenious tips for how to take your career to the next level through volunteerism.  Check out this article Heather wrote on the subject for Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine.
Now that you have insight into how to use volunteering to jumpstart your professional development, we'd like to share ideas about how to strategically highlight your experiences to help further your career.
Remember back in high school when your teachers and parents would put the pressure on you to volunteer? Reasons included making sure your resume looked more appealing as a prospective applicant to higher education institutions and helping you gain experience and skills that you may not have learned from school. Volunteering and its personal and community benefits are just as important now as back then, and now as you’re looking to apply for jobs in the real world, it’s never been more vital to continue volunteering and highlighting the skills you’ve gained from those experiences.
The economy and current job market have given us the chance to be creative and resourceful in how we gain relevant professional experience. When we volunteer with an organization, especially if we’ve become long-term volunteers or board members, we gain a host of skills and knowledge that could benefit our career in the nonprofit sector. Here are three ways you can highlight the skills you acquire through volunteering:
• List relevant volunteer experiences on your resume.
Resumes aren’t just for highlighting your previous paid jobs and internships. If you had a significant volunteer experience that’s relevant to the focus area of the organization you’re applying to, or held a volunteer position that utilized the skills outlined in a job posting, put the experience on your resume. Employers will notice the position and be more intrigued by the experiences you’ve been immersed in outside of your typical work life.
• Share a volunteer experiences during a job interview.
On a similar note, be ready to talk about the volunteer experience should an employer ask about it during your job interview. It’s always good to have specific professional experiences and examples in mind when you’re about to go into an interview, so think of some relevant volunteer experiences that you could share with a prospective employer. For example, share what you learned in problem solving and leadership while serving on a local nonprofit board or how you have experience in project management and partnership building as a long-term volunteer leader.
• Highlight your volunteer experiences on LinkedIn.
In the past year, LinkedIn has begun to recognize volunteer skills as relevant work experience on users’ personal profiles, and many recruiters are going onto LinkedIn to headhunt prospective applicants. It’s important that you list your volunteer skills and the causes and organizations you support. LinkedIn is also a great place to have visible recommendations from leaders in the organizations you’ve served with and have others endorse the professional skills you possess.
What are some other ways that you’ve highlighted your volunteer experiences? Please leave a comment to share!