As military spouses dealing with frequent moves to exciting and new locations, we’re often faced with potential gaps in our resumes. So, you ask yourself, what can I do to keep my expertise current, learn new skills, and add to my resume? The answer is easy. Fill your soul and your resume at the same time by volunteering!
The most important fact to remember is that experience gained through volunteering shouldn’t be put at the bottom of your resume under “Volunteer Positions.” When you volunteer, you are working. You have made a commitment of time, resources, and energy to complete a mission. Don’t short-change yourself, your accomplishments, your skills, or your time spent helping others.
Place your volunteer experience in with your “paid work” experience. If you are writing a skills-based resume, include the skills you learned or utilized while volunteering. If you volunteered with several organizations or projects, you may want to group and categorize them to keep your resume at an appropriate length. Looking for a helpful guide? “Making Volunteerism Work for You” is a great resource.
One question I am asked regularly is, “What if I volunteered with an organization that my employer may disagree with? Should I include it on my resume?” My answer is that it is completely up to you. If you don’t feel comfortable including it, then don’t. You can still find a way to incorporate your skills without listing specific organizations. It’s all about what you are comfortable presenting as a reflection of you.
Remember, just because you didn’t collect a paycheck for your work doesn’t make it less valuable. The skills you learned or shared, and the impact your work had on a person, project, or organization are invaluable. Volunteering may fill your soul, but it also fills gaps in your resume.
Have you used volunteer experience to fill gaps or enhance your resume?