9 Lives for Women Blog

No Good Deed Goes Unnoticed | April 4th, 2012

In answer to the frequent question, “Does my volunteer work count on a resume,” I always tell women yes, yes, yes!  Now Linkedin has made it even easier to showcase this experience.

First of all, you’re on Linkedin, right?  Even if you’re not being paid for your work now, some day soon that may change.  Linkedin is a networking must for just about anyone hitting the pavement for a job.

If you’re already on Linkedin you may not have noticed the “Volunteer Experiences and Causes” section.  Just under the first section of your profile, you’ll see a “NEW” button.  Click that button and you have a ready-made format to list major causes that you believe in and all your significant volunteer achievements.

Take a look at this Fast Company article from September, 2011:  “Volunteering Will Save Your Career Or Put You in a New One”.  There’s truth to that title, as long as you describe your volunteer experiences in bottom line business terms.

My decade of recruiting experience, however, tells me that the title of this article may be a bit overblown.  There will not be any across-the-board preference for candidates who have “done good deeds”.  There will be certain hiring managers who share your commitment to a particular cause—or perhaps a woman who has served on non-profit committees will know the amount of work and smarts they require.  In these cases your volunteer work could give you a definite leg up.

A Linkedin representative is quoted in the Fast Company article, noting that volunteer work can be “the next level of assessing if someone is worth hiring”.  In other words, when several candidates seem to have equal experience and education, volunteer work could be a differentiating factor.

Ultimately volunteer work shows that you are a well-rounded person who is willing to put yourself out there for people who are well beyond your inner circle.  Job hunting is not unlike the college application process when admissions officers like to see that applicants do more than study and hang out with friends.  Employers know that the more you do, the more you know, the more people you meet and, collectively, the more you bring to their table.

  • Describe your volunteer work in business terms and showcase it on your resume.
  • Make sure that you have a robust Linkedin profile and list your volunteer experiences and causes.
  • Determine who you want to know or meet, and find out if you’re both involved with the same or similar non-profit organizations or support the same causes–and use that information to open doors and break the ice.
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