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A lot of my experience in my field (programming) is volunteer or contractual work. For example, for a couple of years I volunteered at my university to mark assignments, on a couple of occasions I've done guest lectures. As for paid work, tutoring was the norm. Considering the difficulty in verifying a self-employed position, is this kind of experience disregarded when a potential employer is peering through resumes/CVs?

A somewhat related addendum: I own a business unrelated to my field. Putting this on a resume shows some regard of leadership, accounting, etc and other clerical skills that would be useful in any occupation. However, it is considered self-employed and has the same aforementioned issues. Is it worth putting this on a CV? Of course it's wise to put it on a CV/resume, but I'm not sure if it would make as large an impact as I would like to believe.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., Jan Doggen, gnat, jcmeloni, Garrison Neely Aug 12 at 23:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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How does marking assignments or doing guest lectures help advance your programming skills? Unless an activity builds you as a character ( charity work, ect ) or builds your professional skills its best to leave it off the resume. Having your own business shows you have specfic skills and would fit in both the character and profession skill category. –  Ramhound Mar 28 at 17:39
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@Ramhound, to me, doing a guest lecture shows I have an advanced command of the subject material pertaining to that specific course, otherwise I wouldn't be lecturing. As for the marking, you are absolutely right, although I feel it shows some form of commitment into the discipline. That may be a stretch, however. –  riista Mar 28 at 18:45
    
I don't know what level you were teaching, what you were teaching, but I am not sure if I agree with you that knowing how to present material to students shows an employer you know how perform the job they want you to hire you for. You should have it on your resume, but if it does not improve your character or promote your professional skills its best left off. I am not saying its worthless, don't get me wrong, a resume has a very specific purpose and you shouldn't forget what it is. –  Ramhound Mar 28 at 20:37
    
@Ramhound - having your own business also typically makes them ask how much time you put into it. They want you to work for them, not hang around the office while you run some other company. So, you have to be careful with this. IMO, it has always helped me, but I do have to assure them that it won't take time from the job they will be paying for. –  Jasmine Mar 28 at 22:27
    
@Ramhound, it's not so much the actual presenting, but the fact I was asked to guest lecture. It was at the university level, and this is only really done if the presenter has either previously received high marks in that course, or who a great command of the subject material. It doesn't matter that I did guest lectures, but I imagine it matters that a professor requested I do so, as it shows I'm competent enough to teach others. –  riista Mar 28 at 23:50

3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Considering the difficulty in verifying a self-employed position, is this kind of experience disregarded when a potential employer is peering through resumes/CVs?

When I review a resume/CV I seldom disregard anything that is written. So, from my point of view - No, it's not disregarded.

That said, volunteer work generally has less resume impact than work you are being paid for.

Being paid typically implies an obligation to complete the work, to complete it in a time period controlled by an employer, and to complete it to a quality level controlled by an employer.

While you may do your best, often volunteer work isn't required to meet those same standards, and thus is less impactful resume-wise. Those of us who have contributed as volunteers and managed volunteers have seen how some folks are "all in" while others are not. It's hard to distinguish between those based on a resume.

On the other hand, both volunteer and contract work can be a rich source of references. It's a good thing to have a supervisor on a volunteer project say glowing things about your work ethic. Working hard while not even drawing any pay is a desirable attribute for an employer.

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+1 - The references will be the key. –  JeffO Mar 28 at 17:33

The paid contractual work wouldn't be disregarded, in my opinion. It's still employment. The volunteer stuff wouldn't be verified as actual employment but would go towards your competency in the relevant field and as evidence of your passion for the subject.

The unrelated business might raise a concern or two though, mostly around the time it might take from your prospective employment, and whether it would cause you to lose focus. I would have strong explanations for these concerns ready when you go to interview, as you'll have to convince the interviewer that your business will not be your primary concern.

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I'd expect that almost unequivocally, no it's not disregarded at all. Especially if the alternative is: "May 2011 - Feb 2012: Relishing in the freedom of unemployment while occasionally job-hunting". In other words, they want to know you're doing something to keep your skills sharp.

I would add that it could even be seen as a bonus as a sign of initiative - not many people have it in them to support themselves in that manner.

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