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Beefing Up Your Resume with Volunteer Work

Interesting article in today’s Boston Globe about gaining relevant experience through volunteer work.

Key points:

  • Don’t volunteer just anywhere doing anything; look for an opportunity to use existing skills or build new expertise.
  • Invest time volunteering to determine if a new career path is right for you – you get to literally “try before you buy.”
  • Take your commitment seriously – fulfill your obligation.

Good examples in the article included a woman doing volunteer records research for a nonprofit social agency and a former financial analyst who’s now assisting in a middle school math classroom. Both are seriously considering a permanent career switch that requires additional education – they’re very smart to get their feet wet and see if they really like the new field!

Yes, you can certainly put this experience on your resume. No, you don’t have to volunteer that you’re not getting paid for it. It might make up the very first “experience” segment on your resume or might appear towards the end, under “extras” such as professional affiliations. It depends how central it is to your current goals, perhaps how long you’ve been doing it, what your current employment status is, and other factors. Still, it can be relevant, solid, and meaningful experience that you can showcase as a prime qualification for your new career.


  1. Excellent points, Louise! It’s very smart to consider volunteer opportunities not just to remain consistent through periods of unemployment, but to also “test the waters” for a possible career change – and that strategy would work equally well for an individual who’s employed or unemployed.

  2. Louise says:

    Laurie, great point about doing this whether you’re employed or unemployed. I guess it came to the forefront (became “newsworthy”) as a result of current high unemployment.

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