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How should relevant volunteer work be shown on a resume? Should I list these activities in the "Professional Experience" of my resume? Should I have a separate section?

A couple examples may provide some aid for answers:

  • I'm a software and web developer and have voluntarily developed and maintained a web sites for organizations in which I have been active outside work. Currently, I maintain a couple sites like this and have done others in the past. How would I show that on my resume if I were to apply for a software or web development job?

  • In the past, I have held some leadership positions within some of those organizations, organizational officers such as Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President, and President, as well as serving on a committees and Boards of Directors. How would I list that if I were to apply for a managerial position?

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Your resume should only contain the most vital information. You should lump leadership positions together if it was within the same organization. You should lump your developement work for organization to the best of the best. –  Ramhound Dec 5 '12 at 14:15

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

If the work is directly applicable to positions you're applying for, consider it to be 'professional experience'. Doing the tasks you mentioned is no different than a paid job, and no one would likely take offense (and may appreciate) at knowing details about that experience.

Something to remember about resumes: they're more often fodder for interview questions and conversation. If you'd like to discuss the experience, put it down.

For some items (like being a group treasurer, for instance) it's better to list that in a 'community activities' section if it is not directly applicable to the position you're applying to.

EDIT: I'll also add that you shouldn't feel the need to list every single activity on your resume - add a web page address, LinkedIn profile, StackOverFlow Careers link, etc. in your contact information - if you list it, someone will use it for interview prep.

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I like most of what you say. However, do you really think a "Community activities" section is appropriate? This seems kind of like "hobbies" which it seems is usually considered a no-no for someone with relevant experience. Also, I once saw a resume with 2 pages of "Community activities" and wondered if the person would actually make time to do his job. –  GreenMatt Dec 3 '12 at 4:50
    
A short one (with only a description) is always nice to know if relevant. As an employer I would be interested to know that someone was the "Treasurer of the Delphi Users Group" (or whatever) because it shows a level of engagement above and beyond other peers. I would not make such a section long, or include activities like "2nd Chair in the Yak Horn Orchestra". Never make the activities section more than a sentence title and description. If I want to know more, I'll ask. –  Chad Thompson Dec 3 '12 at 5:11
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One caveat, though: people reading your resume expect you to have one employer at a time, so if you mix these into the "professional experience" section, where they'll presumably overlap your paid jobs, it could get confusing. That's why, when it's been relevant for me, I instead listed them in an "Other Experience" section after "Professional Experience". –  Monica Cellio Jan 28 '13 at 22:41

I have similar experiences on my resume, Right under my professional experience I have added a section where I have mentioned all such thing in "one line" and add a link to it:

1) I am president of a non profit organisation working on....

2) Link to my gitHub / Sourceforge projects - Add one liner intro.

3) Link to my blogsite + add link to comscore (to show unique visitor stats etc)

Such things do matter to a lot to employers these days (and if it doesn't they would just ignore it).

I have been to interviews where we have spent 30 mins just talking about open source projects and how can I improve them, or how can I use them for that company.

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I have a section on my resume titled "Volunteer Experience". It lists the organizations I've worked with and job descriptions, just like my professional experience. I've had multiple interview questions directly address this experience. The hiring managers at my last two positions both cited my volunteer work as a positive in making the hiring decision.

I would also recommend coming up with an interview-friendly way to describe the organization you are working with. For example, I was on the executive committee running an anime convention for several years and gained a lot of valuable leadership experience. However, many interviewers/resume readers may not know what an anime convention is, or they may perceive it negatively. I described the con as a "Japanese culture and media conference."

Your volunteer work is valuable, especially if you are trying to break into a new field or work your way out of entry level.

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