Volunteering in the community can be an amazing experience. It can be rewarding - personally and professionally. But, should you include volunteering with faith-based organizations on your resume? The key to that question depends on what you did as a volunteer, your other professional experience, and what types of jobs that you are applying to. Here is what you need to know about how and when to include church volunteering on your resume.
Why Volunteer Experience Gets Included On Your Resume
It is important to first remember why you include volunteering on your resume before deciding whether to include a specific type of volunteering on your resume. People include volunteer experience on their resumes throughout their careers because it adds to their overall message and story. Including volunteering on your resume helps you to stand out to hiring managers by displaying your passions, skills, and work ethic. The fact that these experiences are unpaid does not matter. Instead, the value of experiences as a volunteer can be much greater for your career.
The reason why and where someone may choose to include volunteering experience on their resume can vary. For example, the person may have volunteered while they were staying at home to raise their kids. Or, the person volunteering may have strategically decided to join a board to expand their professional network and skills. The reasons to volunteer with an organization in the first place can vary greatly. Similarly, the decision to include that information on your resume can also vary.
But, religion and politics can be quite divisive. And, you don't want to give a potential employer any reason to reject your resume by including something on your resume that they may not agree with. So, the decision to include any volunteering for church related or political organizations on your resume should be intentional. Here is how to include the details about your church-related volunteering on your resume.
When to Include Faith-based Volunteering on Your Resume
Including volunteering with your church on your resume isn't always the right decision. Here are the times when including faith-based volunteering on your resume makes sense:
The first question that you should ask is whether church-related volunteering is relevant to your current job search. Remember that the purpose of sending your resume to the employer is to demonstrate that you meet the qualifications for the open position. So, when thinking about your church volunteering, is it relevant to the job that you are applying to? If so, then you should include it on your resume.
When deciding whether the experience is relevant, make sure that you think about this question as an outsider. The organization or its committee that you volunteered with may not be commonly recognized. Or, people may have opinions about what it is that they do (for better or worse). Keep in mind the potential opinions of outsiders when deciding whether the specific volunteering that you did is relevant to the job and company that you are applying to.
Fills in the Gaps
Even if the church volunteering isn't directly relevant, you may still want to include it on your resume if it helps to fill in the gaps in your career history. Including these details can help to tell what you have done between jobs if there was an extended break. Or, it can help to provide additional examples of your skills, motivations, or work ethic that are relevant to your current job search. Thus, it can make sense to include the details about your church volunteering on your resume when it helps to provide a more complete picture of you as a candidate for the jobs that you are applying to currently.
Demonstrates Secular Skills
Include details about volunteering with a church or faith-based organization when it can illustrate the secular skills that you haven't been able to use in another context. For example, do you sit on a board at your church? That can be a great example of leadership and financial management. Or, do you regularly volunteer at your church's food pantry? That can be a great example of compassion, dedication, and people skills. Thus, including these experiences on your resume can be a strong addition to your resume.
There are also times when volunteering is expected by candidates to demonstrate their commitment to service. This is most common for people pursuing jobs in non-profit or government service. Although these job searches will not require faith-based volunteering, the people reviewing the applications will be looking for volunteering on the resumes of the candidates. If you are only volunteering with your church, then you should include the details about this experience on your resume if you are also looking for a job in non-profits or with the government.
The other time when volunteering can be expected on someone's resume is when they are in school or newer to the profession. Employers will be looking for volunteering experience of any kind to determine the skills and experiences of the person. In this case, you can and should include all of your volunteering on your resume to help demonstrate your skills and achievements that may be relevant to the jobs that you are applying to - even if you have only volunteered with your church or other faith-based organizations.
Space on your resume can also dictate when and how much volunteering should be included. No matter how great the volunteering experience with your church, you should only include it on your resume if there is room for the details. If you have a two-page resume, then volunteer work should be included on the second page. If your resume is only one page, volunteer experience can go at the bottom of that page under other achievements or relevant skills and abilities.
How to Include Church Volunteering on Your Resume
If including your church volunteering on your resume is right for you, then you need to put it in the right place on your resume. The following is a step-by-step guide to including faith-based volunteering on your resume the right way.
Pick a Spot
After deciding the faith-based volunteering is relevant, you need to pick a place where that experience should go on your resume. You have 2 options to include this information:
- Professional Experience Section. You could decide to include your church-related volunteering in your career timeline - even if it wasn't paid. This strategy makes sense for people that took time away from working or that are just starting out. This enables you to provide a unified timeline where people (and the applicant tracking systems) do not have to jump around to figure out what you were doing at different times.
- Volunteer Experience Section. Alternatively, you could create a separate section on your resume to list out your volunteer experiences. You would do this if you have no gaps in your work history. This section typically comes after the professional experience and it may be at the bottom of your resume.
Include the Details
Next, you need to include the details about your volunteering on your resume in a way that makes sense for the section that you will put in it. If you are including the volunteering in your professional experience section, then this entry needs to look similar in form and level of detail as the other entries in this section. If you are adding another volunteer experience section, then you need to include the right level of details that the space permits on your resume.
You may also need to give yourself a job title for your volunteering experience. Do not overstate your experience or contributions. But, pick a job title for your church-related volunteering that does help your current job search. Keep it accurate without being overly specific. And, make sure that you include timeframes for the volunteering to show the people and ATS when you did this volunteering.
Finally, make sure that you are including relevant keywords in your volunteering entries on your resume. You will want to include skills, systems, and details under these entries. The keywords that you pick to describe what you did as a volunteer with your church should connect with your overall message.
If your job search is faith-based, then you should include the relevant phrases or concepts from your faith on your resume. This could be information about the types of services or programs that you supported. It could also be about the people that you served or the committees that you served on.
However, if you are not pursuing jobs with a religious organization, then you should remove any faith-based terms from your resume. Instead, you can focus the details of your church volunteering on the skills that you used. This will help the potential employer to understand what you did without getting bogged down in details that may not be relevant (or helpful) to your application.
Want to make sure that your resume includes all of the right volunteering details and that it stands out? Get your free expert analysis of your resume today.