Do you include Voluntary Involvement in a résumé these days, and if yes, how much do you include and what is appropriate?

In our book ‘How To Write A Résumé That Blows Away Your Competition’, we recommend listing the last two years only, and including the duration (dates), the name of the organisation and a brief summary of your role within the organisation.

This needs to be evaluated for your particular circumstance. To give an example:

A person committed and volunteered their time for twenty years to St John Ambulance – albeit, five years ago. Regardless, I would recommend listing this because:

1) It is an accomplishment in itself;

2) Demonstrates a commitment and dedication to the person’s community; and

3) Valuable skills would have been gained – first aid, communication, counselling, etc.

Sample 2:

A stay-at-home Mum is returning to the workforce. She has now been “unemployed” for five years. Within this time she has regularly volunteered at her children’s local school, providing assistance to teachers in the form of reading classes, etc. In this instance, I would consider including it under Employment History, rather than Voluntary Involvement. Although it is voluntary work, it shows continuity in regards to employment dates and initiative in contributing to her community. In doing so, she has also gained valuable skills which are attributable to the roles she will be applying for.

Sample 3:

In the instance of an executive, I sometimes rename this section to “Relevant Industry Experience” or similar. This may include voluntary board roles, speaking engagements, etc. which should not be listed under Employment History (it would only confuse matters).

The Voluntary Involvement section is essential for those whom have been unemployed for a long period of time, or for those thinking about a change in career direction.

If you are unemployed, or thinking of changing your career, I would highly recommend voluntary commitment of some kind. It has been proven that working in a voluntary capacity bodes well for your future employment prospects – and you gain some valuable experience too, both work and life related! Voluntary involvement can be a win-win situation and should never be disregarded. It can also be a great networking tool!

To find out more about the wonderful benefits of voluntary involvement, as well as opportunities to volunteer, visit