This guide provides tips on how to showcase your volunteering experience on your CV and shows you how to include volunteering on your CV. It is for people who have volunteered already, as well as those who want to volunteer in the future.
How to maximise volunteering experience on your CV
If you are looking for a job, you might not have much paid work experience yet. Perhaps there was a gap in your employment, while you raised children or studied. Or maybe you are seeking a career change. Volunteering is a great way to gain skills and experience to improve your employability.
When writing your CV, it helps to connect the professional experience and additional key skills you’ve developed through your volunteer role to the job you are applying for. You may also want to think about the transferable skills and abilities gained through your volunteering.
Including volunteering experience on your CV helps the employer understand your professional skills, abilities and experience. It also communicates that you are someone who actively strives to learn and grow. It shows that you make wise use of your time, feel passionate about a cause, and make an active contribution to your community. It can help reassure your prospective employer that you are the right fit for the job and their organisation.
Time and time again, research shows that employers are more likely to choose a candidate with volunteering experience. If it’s described well, your volunteering could be the thing that makes your CV stand out from the crowd.
Before writing your CV - keeping a record of your volunteering
As time passes it might become harder to remember some of the details about your volunteering. While you’re volunteering, keep some notes that will help you when it’s time to write your CV. The following may be helpful:
- Duration of volunteering – start and end dates
- Name of the organisation where you volunteered and its website
Contact details of your Volunteer Co-ordinator/line manager (ask them in advance if you wish to give their name as a referee)
- Notable achievements and performance – times when you excelled in your role
- Details of training courses attended and any qualifications gained
- Any awards, positive feedback or endorsements you received from managers or clients you helped.
Where to include your volunteering experience on your CV
Include it in your professional experience section
The professional experience section on your CV usually includes three to five of your most recent and relevant jobs. If you have limited or no professional experience, consider adding volunteer positions to the professional experience section under a category heading like "Related Experience". Format your volunteer role using the same structure you used for previously held paid jobs, but identify the role as 'volunteer'.
If your volunteer role demonstrates a skill that is key to the job you are applying for, then you could place it under a functional heading such as "Fundraising Experience,” “Event Planning Experience" or “Administration Experience”.
Create a separate section for unrelated volunteer experiences
If you have volunteer experiences that are unrelated to the jobs that you are applying for, include a brief ‘Volunteering’ section towards the end of your CV. Include volunteering experiences if they might set you apart from other candidates or provide a helpful context for employers. Most organisations look favourably on staff who contribute in a positive way to the community.
How to describe volunteer experience
Explain the purpose of the volunteer role and the key responsibilities. Be clear and concise and avoid jargon. Do not assume that the person reading your CV understands the context to the role.
Write about your achievements, if possible with facts and figures, for example, the amount of money raised or number of clients supported. If relevant, include brief examples of achievements that will inspire the reader.
List any awards, nominations or special recognition you’ve received. If you have obtained qualifications, training or membership of any professional bodies, you could reference these to help showcase your knowledge and commitment.
It is a good idea to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for. Think about how your volunteering experience relates to this particular job. Include keywords from the job description and person specification that connect your volunteer experience back to the role.
Examples of skills gained from volunteering
Often in job descriptions employers look for specific skills, such as problem solving, communication, teamwork, stakeholder management, adaptability, leadership and time management. Volunteering experience can help to demonstrate these essential skills.
Below are some popular volunteer roles with examples of the skills that you might gain. Please note that this list of skills is not exhaustive, as each volunteer role is different.
Examples of demonstrating volunteer experience & skills gained on your CV.
You can choose to highlight the skills gained from your volunteering experience when you describe the responsibilities (see examples 1 and 2 below), or you can include them separately (see examples 3 and 4).
Example 1 - Youth Empowerment Board Member
Responsibilities: Member of the Youth Empowerment Board, a group of young people who consider local issues that affect Tower Hamlets and take an active role in creating positive change in their neighbourhoods.
- Chaired group discussions to develop a proposal for regeneration in a local estate; motivated members to share ideas and encouraged them to have open discussions.
- Conducted research to identify key issues faced by estate residents and drafted a questionnaire using online survey tools.
- Successfully delivered presentations to groups of local residents that received 100% positive feedback.
As a result, the estate residents were inspired to start a regular litter-picking group, and held regular inspections to report fly tipping and graffiti.
Example 2 - Volunteer Befriender, Deafblind Charity
Responsibilities: Supporting vulnerable adults and disabled older people in the community who are isolated and housebound.
- Engaged in non-judgmental, friendly conversations with clients on a weekly basis for a year.
- Provided gentle coaching so the client could access support and friendship from other sources.
- Helped to create and carry out a survey aimed at reducing loneliness and isolation amongst older people. This was completed by 60% of the participants and resulted in changes so that clients’ needs were better met by the project.
- Successfully completed training on communication and guiding techniques to support deafblind people.
Example 3 - Food Club Volunteer, Food Bank
Responsibilities: Supporting the Food Bank to distribute food to vulnerable families in the borough to alleviate food poverty.
- Ensuring safe storage of food and completing daily checks to keep food safe.
- Packing and distributing food to members and families arriving on the day.
- Coordinating a weekly rota system for 10 volunteers to deliver food to vulnerable families.
- Providing information to a diverse range of people about services offered in the centre as well as signposting to local services.
- Nominated for the Mayor of London Awards 2020 for engaging and supporting the local community during the coronavirus crisis.
Skills gained: Time management, people management, coordination, communication skills, customer service, food safety and hygiene
Example 4 - Classroom Assistant Volunteer
Responsibilities: Supporting children aged 7-10 years in the classroom to develop their creative writing skills and build their imagination and self-confidence.
- Gained hands-on classroom experience, helped children to build confidence and provided one-to-one and small group attention.
- Supported students with a range of abilities including special educational needs and disability (SEND)
- Assisted with managing group dynamics and challenging behaviour.
- Supported the facilitator to prepare learning materials and lesson plans and successfully organised 6 sessions for schoolchildren to write creative stories.
- Received appreciation and thank you card from the children for supporting them to achieve their goals.
Skills gained: Teaching assistant skills, lesson planning, time management, patience, creative thinking, coaching.
Examples of CV templates
Below are links to examples of CV templates you can use to refresh and re-format your CV.
Need help with writing your CV?
The Council’s free employment service for Tower Hamlets residents provides support for people at all levels of work, skill or experience. You can access employment support tailored to your needs, including basic skills or advanced training, access to work experience, apprenticeships or graduate schemes, CV help, interview preparation and more. Read more.
Run by Tower Hamlets Careers Service, Young Workpath supports young people aged 13-19 (or up to 25 with special educational needs or disability) to help them reach their goals for the future. Their advisors offer help with getting into training, education or work, including with CVs and interviews. Find out more.
Idea Store Learning
Idea Store Learning works with partners across the borough, including WorkPath, to deliver a range of unique English, Maths, Digital Skills and Employability programmes that will support your path to employment. This includes bespoke short courses such as CV workshops, interview skills, and communication in the workplace. All of their employability, vocational and functional skills courses are free. Read more.