Volunteering: A Great Way to Boost Your Resume

Career Blog

Published: July 17, 2018 by Evelyn Hudson

If your resume is looking a bit sparse but you don’t have the time to dedicate to a formal internship, consider volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community while adding some important lines to your resume. You can also add volunteer experiences to your LinkedIn profile. Even if your volunteer experience is outside of the LIS field, it is still great to use in an interview.

On a personal note: While I was applying to library jobs, I volunteered at my local public library. This refreshed my memory on the Dewey Decimal System and helped me get to know the people who worked at the library. During interviews, I brought up my volunteering and it made me stand out from other candidates because I was giving up my free time to benefit the community.

Finding Opportunities

Finding volunteer opportunities is just like looking for a job or internship. Handshake is an excellent place to start. All you have to do is put “volunteer” and your location in the search box and many opportunities will appear. Remember that it is also possible to volunteer remotely, so try leaving location blank and see what you get.

You can also directly contact the organization you would like to volunteer for. For example, if you want to help out in the public library, see if your local library has any volunteer opportunities. Even if the organization you are contacting doesn’t normally accept volunteers, you can always create the perfect opportunity for yourself by designing your own volunteer experience with the organization.

Updating Your Resume

Add your volunteer experiences in a separate section on your resume to make it clear that you were not paid for this work. You should still list duties as you would for a regular job to show that you did important work. If the volunteer experience went particularly well, you might ask your supervisor to write a letter of recommendation for you or serve as a professional reference. Even though you were unpaid, this person can still evaluate you as a worker.

Applying Volunteer Experience During an Interview

If you volunteered at a library, then you can tell the interviewer what you learned working there and how it directly applies to the position you are applying for. If you volunteered at an organization outside of the LIS world, that is still great to bring up. LIS jobs require so many different competencies that almost any volunteer experience can be applied. For example, if you volunteered in a soup kitchen, talk about how that made you aware of the struggles of the homeless population and how you might help that population in the library. If you helped at a summer camp, talk about how you honed your teaching skills and how that will make a difference at the reference desk. This will help you to come across as competent and a generous person—two qualities that any employer would look for!

Have you used volunteer experience to land a job? Share with us in the comments!

New LIS Jobs in Handshake

African Library Project – Youth Program Outreach Coordinator     African Library Project

Public Services Librarian     Worcester Public Library/ City of Worcester

Don’t forget to explore job openings outside of the public and/or academic libraries in Handshake. Consider searching on topics such as taxonomy, research, data management, digital asset management, and similar terms that may reflect your particular LIS skills or area of emphasis.


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