Volunteering and social responsibility/charity work is widely encouraged here in the UK as part of ones' professional development - and recruiters/firms/career advisers expect people to list this experience on ones' CV/Resume and even online profiles like Linkedin.

My only concern is if the causes might be in conflict with general neutralism, or could be debatable (i.e. the majority of people do not agree with the cause).

For example, I volunteer with an organization that helps immigrants/refugees from a country that is war-torn (Many people in the country are against immigration).

I also volunteer with an organization that advocates strong reforms in health policy e.g. abolish alcoholism, smoking, prostitution etc. (Many people in the country favor freedom of booze and, well, you know what).

At what point could listing these things in ones' resume/CV and online profiles damage ones' career?

  • 1
    Expect and require are not the same. If you think it would reflect negatively then don't include it.
    – paparazzo
    Dec 1, 2014 at 15:34
  • 2
    Well, look what happened to Mozilla co-founder and former CEO Brendon Eich. He supported (financially) a certain controversial ballot measure in California years ago and was hounded into resigning shortly after being named CEO.
    – James Adam
    Dec 1, 2014 at 16:06

3 Answers 3


I think there is a risk - but it should be possible to mitigate it.

The key is to emphasise why the skills you use in volunteering are useful to the business. For example, if you volunteer at a cat shelter and your job is feeding the animals - that's probably not going to help you get a job in accountancy!

So, what are the aspects of your volunteering which will help get a job?

  • Fund-raising
  • Negotiating
  • Working with large teams
  • Applying for Government grants
  • etc

If you can show the hiring manager that your skills are relevant, they're less likely to care that they don't personally support your charity.

If the skills you use are not relevant to that specific job, leave it off your CV.

Now, on to the tricky part - what to do if the employer is opposed to the particular charity?

Firstly, unless your charity has a really bad reputation, they're unlikely to care much. The majority of people aren't anti-immigration and - to be blunt - you probably don't want to work for someone like that.

Secondly, show that it is a legitimate charity and briefly explain its mission.

Froggy-Feet (Registered Charity #123456) is a voluntary organisation dedicated to keeping frogs healthy. Its patron is the Earl of Downton.

Finally, remember, your CV is an advert for you. If you think that your quest to abolish alcohol is going to make it harder for you to get a job at a pub - leave it off.


Your question is way too broad. "Damage your career" with whom? No matter who you volunteer for, someone is going to take it badly, act on it and occasionally make you pay a price for it. If you choose to do good, there will be an actual cost and a potential cost associated with it. It's up to you to decide whether you find these costs acceptable to you. I agreed to work with a highly talented professor to fight human trafficking - Neither him nor I expect to be making friends in the human trafficking community. And sometimes, really bad things can happen to you when you get in between someone and what they think is "their" money.

At what point could there be damage to your career? Anything is possible. You could get totally involved in a noncontroversial cause. But your prospective employer - say a management consultant - has a policy of keeping a low profile when interacting with their clientele, and your volunteer involvement is high profile. Or your next employer might be concerned that you are not as available after hours as other candidates.

If you choose to let your fears dictate who you want to volunteer with, the number and variety of fears is practically infinite. You are asking what can go wrong. This is life, anything can go wrong.

I don't think any less of you for having fears. Fear has been with me all my life, and Fear has been the best friend I ever had. I always listen to Fear but often enough, I forge on ahead and do what I think needs to be done :)


Personally, I don't think it matters much which cause you volunteer for, unless it's something very politically or religiously motivated. And even then it should be very radical for someone to outright ignore your work application.

For example (and this is a bit of an extreme case), if you volunteer for a communist party by raising funds and picketing, you should be discrete about it, unless you know that the recruiter who will interview you, also supports this cause.

Spending your time to help those in need (like immigrants or homeless), should definitely be a positive point on your résumé. If you feel like it might be an issue, you could consider re-writing it without lying. For instance, instead of "helping immigrants", you could rephrase it to "helping homeless" or "helping children".

What goes on your public profiles, can end up being important these days, so you might want to do the same rephrasing there as well.

  • Reading between the lines given both areas the op is active in I would bet that this is the case.
    – Pepone
    Dec 1, 2014 at 23:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .