Updating your resume: a familiar (if not well-loved) task for all working professionals. Updating your resume can be a daunting task on its own—but trying to add your skilled volunteering, or pro bono consulting, experience presents a new challenge.
We can help with that! We created this guide after asking volunteers for advice on why, where, and how to best include your skills-based volunteering experience on your resume.
Why should I include skilled volunteer work on my resume?
Because your volunteer work is awesome! You’ve helped nonprofits continue their missions by providing specialized infrastructure support. But there are also benefits for volunteers to share their skills and talents.
Listing your skilled volunteering work on your resume can:
- Demonstrate your ability to collaborate well with others
- Highlight your project-management and problem-solving skills outside of professional roles
- Show that you care about social causes
Where should I include skilled volunteer work on my resume?
That depends on the resume 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 qualification sets skilled volunteering apart from many other volunteer projects.
Do you have a section 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 consulting or freelance work, but be sure to note that it was volunteer or pro bono support rather than paid.
Are you between jobs?
If your skilled volunteering service is 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 emphasize that the project was completed on a volunteer basis.
Think in numbers.
Try to quantify your volunteer experience and include specifics on the impact that your work made. For example, if you helped with donor strategy then include how many new donors the organization obtained with your assistance.
Pro (Bono) Tip: Not sure how your work impacted your nonprofit partner? Ask them! Ask for an update on how implementation has been going and any post-project successes so far.
Highlight your “soft skills.”
While “hard skills” like subject matter expertise are required in skills-based volunteer work, “soft skills” are essential to a team’s success as well. Volunteers jump into unfamiliar projects and hit the ground running, navigate personal dynamics with a 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, include those details on your resume!
Point out your leadership and organizational skills.
While each project is unique, skills-based volunteering requires an ability to complete tasks and manage your time. Think about how you managed the project. 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 what kind of leadership or soft skills you used as a volunteer? Check out our resource Pro Bono and Inclusive Leadership for inspiration. It focuses on how six colleagues at Deloitte gained important leadership skills through pro bono service.
Don’t forget to add to your LinkedIn profile!
Think about adding your volunteer work to your LinkedIn profile or portfolio so you can add more details about your experience. Here’s how and where you can add to LinkedIn:
- LinkedIn Profile > Add Section > Volunteer Experience
- Organization: Taproot and [insert nonprofit name]
- Role: Taproot Skilled Volunteer
- Cause: [insert issue area]
- Description: I volunteered through Taproot with [insert nonprofit name] providing support in [insert skill area and activities from project description].
What else can I do to promote my skills-based volunteering service?
We’ve only covered your resume here, but you can share details about your service in a variety of ways! Here are a few examples:
- Consider asking a team member you worked with if they’d be willing to be a professional reference.
- If you’re actively job hunting, look for opportunities to include related volunteering projects in your cover letter, too.
Your skilled volunteering experience 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!