I am an 18 yr old college student who is living with a family(not related in anyway though) who has willingly taken me in due to my difficult circumstances. However, they are economically struggling as well, which is why I spend my time helping out their jobs. As I consider writing my resume and applications to several colleges, I am not quite sure how I should describe the "jobs" that I have worked.

One job is a janitorial job. The pay is based on the area cleaned, not the number of workers. The other is a cashier at the family business. Because my "brothers" are still at school during the shifts, I fill in for them.

I have not received money for these and do not plan to.

On college applications, I am asked to list any jobs I've worked, and I want them to count toward my experience, but I did not get paid. My income is 0, so when I'm also asked to report my income, I wonder if it will come off as unusual.

  • How should I represent jobs where I did not get paid on applications? Whether college applications, work, etc.
  • Why do you feel the need to explain pay or lack thereof when seeking regular employment?
    – NotMe
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 23:12
  • Schools aren't going to care what you did or didn't get paid. What they're interested in is your experiences and what those demonstrate about you.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 0:11
  • 2
    If you did the work, you did the work. Whether cash changed hands is immaterial. If you insist on looking at it as a transaction,it was a PIK (payment-in-kind) transaction where you worked as cashier and janitor in return for food and shelter. Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 0:59
  • Hi Jack, welcome to the Workplace. I edited your question to clarify what you are looking for and make it on topic (and edited your answer into your question). If this changes your intent too much feel free to edit and update your question. Thanks!
    – enderland
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 3:09

2 Answers 2


The most important thing is whether your bosses will vouch for you. They need to be able to give you a written reference or agree to be a referee (someone the employer or school can contact to verify your experience). If you explain to them why (for college, future employment) most bosses will be more then happy to do so.

As for your CV, if you have filled in for any significant period of time (a few months or more), list it under employment but note that it was unpaid. The line between employment and volunteering is becoming less distinct, anyway.

Digressing from the question, remember that people reading your CV are interested in your aptitude and attitude, usually through the lens of your experience and skills. While these jobs may not sound the most exciting, they are learning opportunities, even if it is about turning up on time, following instructions and working within constraints (time, area or money).

Take being a cashier for the family business as an example. You do not say what the business is but you have likely dealt with difficult customers, done stock takes for and end of financial year, dealt with theft or product damage (shrinkage) and stocked shelves (why is product X at the front of the store and Y at the back?).

Years ago I was one of the interviewers for a college program intake. There was on student that had worked at a fast food restaurant for many years while at high school that otherwise had few achievements or other differentiators. He was able to explain not just what he did (such as the ingredients in a burger) but why (mayonnaise between the cheese and bun so they will stick). It showed he was motivated and interested in more than just doing the job.


If you are worried about the lack of income being seen as unusual (they might not notice or care), put these jobs under "volunteer experience" or put a little note on your resume behind these jobs saying "(unpaid)".

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