Volunteer experience can help you get a job

In some non-profits (and other companies), unless you have worked there as a volunteer or intern, you aren’t likely to get a full-time, paid position. Even if the organization doesn’t have an official hire from within policy, volunteering might entice the hiring manager to give your resume a second look.

In the February, 2012 issue of Real Simple magazine (page 100), Laura Vanderkam wrote an article, “How volunteering helps you land a job,” which reiterates how important volunteering can be on your resume if used appropriately. Unfortunately, the article isn’t available online.

Vanderkam suggests listing specific skill-building volunteer activities on your resume. Look objectively at what you did. Did you organize a fundraiser? Recruit volunteers? Train them in assisting you with the event? Organize, recruit and train are all keywords that hiring managers like to see on a resume. Be sure to include as much detail as you can such as what the event raised, hoe many volunteers, time, etc. It cannot be said enough having skills and using them are two different things. Hiring managers want to know you can the use skills you highlight and transfer them into a new position.

Don’t discuss your volunteer work in an interview, unless the interviewer bring it up. “The employers who find the service to be relevant will ask you about it,” Vanderkam states in the article. “But some won’t feel that way about any unpaid work. In such cases, it’s best to stay quiet.”

Vanderkam also cautions against listing volunteer activities for polarizing organizations. Yes, you might have organizational, recruiting and event planning experience from staging a protest at a local business, but you might not want to cite that if you are applying to a Chamber of Commerce.

Additionally, Vanderkam suggests not listing activities that relate to being a parent, such as the PTA. “Researchers have found that women who cite volunteering related to motherhood on a resume are less likely to be called back for an interviews than those who list a neighborhood group.”

Have you listed volunteer activities on your resume?

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Where to put Education on your Resume

I recently received this question, “How should I answer the question about education if I’m applying for a job before I graduate?”

The spring semester is a great time for students to update their resumes, even if they aren’t graduating in May. Any resume template will leave you a space for education and many employers require this information on an application.

Most resume advice suggests listing your education like this:
NAME OF SCHOOL, location
Degree, Date (or anticipated date)
Major
Minor
GPA (if above a 3.0.)
If your GPA is not above a 3.0, is coursework in your major above a 3.0? If yes, consider listing it like this:
3.5 Major GPA. Note: this may raise some red flags. Have a conversation with your adviser or some one in the field you are applying for to see if this is necessary (sometimes it is).

As for where to put education in your resume, that depends. Are you still in school? If yes, list your education first unless you have significant experience which directly ties to the position you are applying for. Did you just graduate? Same as above. If your degree is a requirement for the position you are applying for, you may want to list it first. It all depends on what you want to highlight. Remember to tailor your resume for each job you apply for. To summarize, read the job ad closely and make sure your resume reflects the keywords and requirements listed in the ad.

You can always include relevant courses and course work if your experience is slim or non-existent. Additionally, if you have any honors or awards, find a way to list that under education or under another section, perhaps titled Honors and Awards.

Another way to list your education and include the relevant course work.

NAME OF SCHOOL, location
Degree, Date (or anticipated date)
Major
Relevant Course Work:
Minor
Relevant Course Work:
GPA (if above a 3.0)

This article from St. Could University lists several ways to add your education to your resume.