Volunteering is a great way to help improve your community. It’s likely something that you had to do while you were in the military, but all of your “volun-told” experiences don’t have to be for naught.
If you’re trying to find a way to set yourself apart from the rest of job applicants but don’t have a ton of experience in your chosen field, consider highlighting your volunteer hours on your resume.
This can include anything you did while in the military or outside volunteer activities. Showing potential employers that you’re passionate about an issue and willing to work (for free) for it helps indicate that you’re open to new experiences and you’re engaged with your community.
Related volunteer work can be combined with work that you did in the military to showcase your particular expertise in a specific area. Maybe you were in charge of coordinating proctoring tests at your installation, or maybe you organized a quarterly clean-up of your post or base. Tell employers about that. Not only does it show initiative on your part, but it also helps to augment the fact that your civilian might be a little lean.
If you have little to no civilian work history, think about the organizations you lent you time to and ask yourself what about that organization was appealing? Maybe you’re passionate about the VFW and routinely volunteer with the organization. Highlight that! On your resume, treat the experience as if it were a paid job. Be sure to add the organization name, location, your title, dates, and accomplishments.
If you can’t find a way to relate your volunteer experiences with your job goal or potential industry, you can still incorporate it on your resume in a separate category like “Community Service” or “Volunteer Work.” Most hiring managers and organizations tend to look favorably on job applicants who contribute in positive ways to their community.
If you didn’t volunteer much while you were in service, that’s okay too. Now’s a perfect time to start! Not only is a great for your community, but it also has the potential to benefit your career. A volunteer position can be a great networking opportunity and might turn into a full-time position. See our content on networking and why it plays a vital role in helping you transition into a civilian career.
Just because you aren’t compensated for something doesn’t mean you don’t have a talent for it. So use it to your advantage. List your volunteer experience under the employment history section just like any other job and be sure to highlight any transferrable skills you’ve acquired as they apply to your target industry.
Remember transparency though and don’t try to pass off volunteer hours as paid work.
Most importantly, it’s helpful to do a little research about your potential employer and highlight the relevant volunteer experience. This is always a good thing to do because it helps you fine tune the resume you’ve worked hard to build to stand out from the rest.