Posted April 23, 2015 by

Build Your First CV with Volunteer Work

Team of young volunteers picking up litter in the park

Team of young volunteers picking up litter in the park. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Building your first CV can seem like an overwhelming task, especially if you do not have much or any work experience. The common thought is that you need work experience on your resume to get a job, but you need a job to get that work experience. It seems like a catch twenty-two situation. However, if you have completed volunteer work all is not lost. For first time CV creators, volunteer work can be the key to highlighting your experience and qualifications. Most employers understand that recent graduates have not had much time to gain paid work experience. Also, it is understood that in certain fields it is necessary to focus on your education, which leaves little time for a job. If you have volunteered throughout your high school or college years (or both), you could actually have amassed more work experience than someone who has worked part time at a paid occupation.

Volunteer Experience is Work Experience

If you have little or no paid work experience to list on your CV, it is crucial to highlight your volunteer experiences. Your volunteer work is still work, even if you did not get paid. You still had a job to do, a title possibly, and responsibilities that you were held accountable for. List your volunteer experience the exact same professional way you would list past work experience. Make sure to specify the duties you performed for the organization or charity, and give yourself the appropriate titles. If you volunteered at a church handling their accounting books, do not list your title as “volunteer”, list your title as “bookkeeper”. Highlight the length of time you worked for the organization. Also make sure to list any skills you developed or learned while completing your volunteer work.

Make Volunteer Work the Focus of your CV

Never be afraid to showcase your volunteer work. Especially if volunteering is something that you are passionate about or have been doing for a long time. When a possible employer sees volunteer work, they recognize that you are a person who is self-motivated and has a sense of community mindedness. These are both very admirable qualities in an employee. Employers appreciate the fact that you continued to work in your position, to better yourself and your community, without the benefit of receiving a paycheck. If you are targeting a specific business for employment, it is also helpful to do your research. Certain businesses have their own community and charitable focuses. Does any of your past volunteer work correlate with theirs? If so, make sure to mention that thoroughly in your CV.

It is not impossible to build a highly successful resume or CV with only volunteer experiences. When you put together a professional CV that looks and reads correctly, you will automatically get your foot in the door. Once the future employer sees that you have experience in working, paid or not, you will be well on your way to gainful employment.

Amy Cowen is a passionate writer who often provides career advice for students and job seekers. She writes for Aussiewriter and hopes to run her own team of writers someday.

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