Updating your resume: a familiar (if not well-loved) task for all working professionals. Making changes to your resume can be a daunting to-do on its own—but trying to add in your pro bono experience effectively presents a brand-new challenge.
We can help with that! After hearing volunteers asking how best to go about the process, we created this guide to why, where, and how to best include your pro bono experience on your resume.
Why should I add pro bono to my resume?
Because your pro bono work is awesome! Pro bono is about getting nonprofits the specialized infrastructure support they’re looking for to continue their mission. But there are also benefits for the skilled volunteers that work with them to do pro bono too.
Sharing the work you’ve done pro bono can:
- Show that you care about social causes.
- Demonstrate your ability to collaborate well with others.
- Manage projects outside of your professional roles.
- Say a lot about who you are, what you care about, and what you’re great at (professionally and interpersonally).
Where should I put pro bono on my resume?
That all depends on the format or template you choose.
Do you have a section for volunteer work? Volunteering through Taproot requires three years of experience with the professional skills needed—this factor sets it apart from many other volunteer projects and shows the diversity of volunteering work you’re committed to.
Do you have an area for listing your consulting or freelance experience? Think of your volunteer work as consulting on a pro bono basis. You can opt to list it on your resume like a consulting or freelance work, just be sure to note that it was pro bono rather than paid.
Are you between jobs? If you see your pro bono service as a continuation of your work experience, add it to your work history instead. Including “pro bono” or “skills-based volunteering” in the description is an easy way to point out that the project was done on a volunteer basis.
How do I talk about pro bono on my resume?
Think in numbers. Try to quantify your experience doing pro bono as much as you can and include any specifics on the impact that your work has made. If you helped with donor strategy, for example, include how many new donors the organization was able to reach with the assistance of your expertise.
Pro (Bono) Tip: Not sure about how the impact of your work has been felt by your pro bono partner? Check in with them! Ask the organization you worked with for an update on how implementation has been going and any post-project successes so far.
Highlight your ‘soft skills’ too. While ‘hard skills’ like subject matter expertise are required in pro bono work, ‘soft skills’ are essential to a team’s success as well. Volunteers jump in and hit the ground running with new projects, navigate personal dynamics with a brand-new team of people, make the most of often-limited resources, and find opportunities for success in challenging situations. These softer skills can be harder to quantify, but if you’ve demonstrated them through your volunteer work, share those details on your resume!
Point out your leadership and organization work. While every project is different, in general skills-based volunteering always calls for the ability to get things done and manage your own time. Think back to your work and consider how you managed the project on your end. Did you lead a group of volunteers, pitch your solution to the nonprofit’s board, or set up the project’s timeline and deliverables? If you demonstrated leadership skills in your pro bono work, make sure to include those details!
Pro (Bono) Tip: Not sure about the leadership or ‘soft skills’ you might have used as a volunteer? Check out our latest resource Pro Bono and Inclusive Leadership for inspiration. It describes how six colleagues at Deloitte developed important inclusive leadership traits through pro bono.
What else can I do to highlight my pro bono service?
We’ve only covered your resume here, but there are lots of ways to share details about your pro bono service in a professional way! Here are just a few:
- Consider asking a team member you worked with if they’d be willing to be a professional reference for you in the future.
- Think about adding your volunteer work to your LinkedIn profile or portfolio site where you can get into more detail about your experience.
- If you’re actively looking for work, look for opportunities to include details about related pro bono projects you’ve done in your cover letter too.
Your pro bono work is every bit as relevant to your career as the details of your work history, education, and business skills. We hope this guide helps you find some ways to share your volunteering experience on your resume and beyond!
Ready to take on another pro bono project… without leaving the house? Sign up for Taproot Plus to get started.