Build Your First CV with Volunteer Work

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / March 24, 2014


Not only does volunteer work serve humanity and the world, helping people who need it and contributing to your community, but choosing to volunteer will yield countless personal benefits as well. Depending upon the work you do, volunteering will likely give you first-hand experience and develop a new skill set; volunteering will empower you and make you more aware of the world around you; and your personal commitment to service will appeal to potential employers, as well as demonstrate to them your abilities, leadership, and skills. If you haven’t yet had a paid job or experience in a field you’d like to pursue, volunteering will help you build a CV to get your foot in the door.

New Skills

Volunteering can potentially provide you administrative experience, as well as applied experience in the field. As a volunteer, you will often work with a team, so you’ll be able to develop your ability to coordinate with others, along with improving your interpersonal communication skills. You will also likely be responsible for independent work, requiring you to demonstrate initiative, the ability to meet deadlines, and competence in completing various assignments, both simple and complex. The opportunity to apply your new skills in the field will allow you to improve upon them, which will not only be an asset to you and your CV, but will build your confidence, making you more assertive and ambitious.

Community Development

As a volunteer, you can better the environment, through taking part in a recycling program, planting trees, or picking up litter; you can help support your fellow citizens by spending time with the elderly or taking care of children; you can educate, through tutoring or improving literacy; you can become a mentor and role model to the youth by being involved in after-school programs; you can assist the less fortunate by organizing a food drive or building houses. There are so many great opportunities to volunteer, so many ways to serve your community. And you will only grow through the experience.

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Personal Growth

If you’ve never before had a job or career, volunteering will be your first professional experience. You may feel intimidated or unprepared when stepping into this role, working with a team and being responsible for completing tasks on target and on time. However, asserting yourself as a volunteer won’t be scary; it will be beautifully life-altering. As a volunteer, you will be made aware of your community’s needs, and you will develop empathy, which will improve the way you relate to others. Volunteering will build your confidence and increase your knowledge, making you a better candidate for future employment.

The knowledge you glean from volunteering is infinite. By working with non-profit organizations, volunteers learn about how a business is run and about how the government operates. You’ll be made more knowledgeable about the resources available in your community, thus, you’ll be able to take initiative in solving community needs. And, along the way, you will discover what is most important in life. You will feel a sense of purpose. Your priorities may even change as you become more involved in the world around you.

Network Building

As a volunteer, you will meet many people from different backgrounds and different walks of life. Your fellow volunteers will be some of the best people you’ll ever meet, because they, too, wish to change the world for the better. The communal ideology ingrained in those who choose to volunteer will allow for easy friendship and because of the diversity of those who are attracted to volunteer work, often you might connect with someone with whom you would otherwise have never crossed paths. Volunteering brings people together, and that’s a positive thing for both your personal and your professional life.

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The connections you make through volunteering will build you a network of contacts. You learn from these contacts, and you can also request a character reference in the future, if you need a recommendation. This network may even put you in touch with other job and career opportunities.

Volunteering and Your CV

Volunteers are more employable, as they’ve taken the initiative to acquire some practical experience along with the theoretical experience provided by education. Presenting this information properly in your CV will give you a leg up when you’re trying to get your foot in the door. So let’s walk through the steps of including volunteer work on your CV.

The most effective way of highlighting your volunteer experience is to include it amongst your paid work, as their importance is equivalent. Your paid employment may even have less relevance to the job for which you’re applying, so if your CV is in chronological order, simply include your volunteer experience amongst your paid employment. However, make sure to note on your CV that it was unpaid volunteer work. Also, if this volunteer work was fixed-length (such as a three-month internship), mark it as such.

The information you should include about your volunteer experience:

  1. Note the name of the volunteer organization, your title and the duration of your work.
  2. Highlight your responsibilities, your tasks, and your acquired skills.
  3. Outline your achievements, such as the progress of your project or money raised.
  4. Tailor your CV to the job placement to which you’re applying. Highlight the achievements and skills which correspond to the potential job placement.
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Kate Funk is a passionate coach and writer. She is a part of a team of experienced writers at, that provides students with quality essays, which help them improve their writing skills.

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About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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