Pump up your Resume with Volunteer Work

Pump up your Resume with Volunteer Work
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About the Author

Laura Machan

Laura Machan

Laura Machan is a Partner, Recruitment Solutions for a major human resources consulting firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Although she has been recruiting for quite a few years, she still gets a big thrill from calling someone to set up an interview and an even bigger thrill when she hears a happy dance as she tells them when their new job starts. Laura lives with her family in Oakville, where she has lived for over 25 years, and is a significant contributor to the Canadian Federation of University Women - Oakville and Women in Nuclear, Golden Horseshoe Chapter.

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I met some stellar candidates this week. They were in various stages of their job searches. Some were just starting to think about looking. Others were deep into their search journey.

One of the things that struck me was that most of them had left community work and extracurricular activities off their resumes.

They had focused so much on getting their experience and skills right that they had not considered the activities and responsibilities that they take on outside of their core work tasks.

Being a gourmet cook or an elite triathlete is laudable that’s not the sort of thing I am talking about. We usually remember to put those types of activities on our resumes. It’s the under the radar, “it was just part of my job” things that I think we are missing.

One of the candidates sits on a special philanthropic committee at his company. That says a lot about him. It says a lot that about his standing in the company in that he would be selected for that role. It also has a different decision making level than his regular work and that’s relevant.

One of the other candidates sits on industry working groups that advocate and deal with industry wide issues. That gives him a much wider view on his industry than the average person might have. Employers notice that.

These sorts of activities are often overlooked as recognizable achievements, either because we don’t see their value to an outsider or we just consider it to be part of the role.

Try this: look at your calendar for the last couple of weeks. Which activities and meetings were not directly related to your day to day responsibilities? Maybe you are on your local United Way board, or maybe you help organize a charity ride.

The fact that you are willing to lend your time to these activities and more importantly, that you are able to balance those things with the rest of your life are the things that really make you stand out as a candidate.

They also give an interviewer additional material to probe and provide a platform for you to display knowledge and responsibility that other candidates would not have.

So make sure you are getting the full value out of all that you do. You just never know when that clown school committee work might come in handy.



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