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  1. #1

    I'm not sure if a certain "volunteer experience" really counts.

    When I was about fifteen years old, my Mom would participate in a certain volunteer service, and would take me along with her. She was the one who signed up, not me. From time to time, I would be asked to perform one task or another. But from what I remember, the vast majority of my time there was spent looking after my younger brother, who has autism. I had to primarily focus on this, so that my Mom could concentrate on serving at the volunteer event, without having to worry about what was happening to my brother.

    So now, do I list that as an experience on my resume, and more importantly, do I list it on an application. One application I'm filling out specifically says to include volunteer work in the section for work history. I'm afraid that it would be misleading to list that event, but also misleading to not list it. It's so "on the border-line." I'm concerned, because the application is a legal document, which must be true and complete to the best of my knowledge.

    Yet I also don't want to have to detail the actual situation that I described above, because in my opinion, it doesn't seem like something that would look very good to most employers (although I guess I could be wrong about that). And there may be a lot of cases where there's not even room to explain all that on an application.

    I would appreciate any advice on this.

  2. #2
    Resident Expert ResumeWriter's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Springfield, OH
    I have a blog post that touches on this subject, although doesn’t seem to address your particular situation — but here’s the link for future reference.

    Does Unpaid Work Count?

    For you, I suggest —

    Talk with your mom to learn if you helped with more work-related projects as part of the non-profit. For example, did you help stuff envelopes, meet and greet people, serve as a runner, help with moving event supplies? Your mom can likely shed light on some tasks you helped with that you might not remember performing.

    For the application, it’s acceptable to list volunteer work into the work history section — but make it perfectly clear the position was a non-paid position. Use “volunteer” as the job title or something like “assistant” with “volunteer” in parenthesis. When writing about your role as a volunteer, you’ll start sentences somewhat like this:

    Supported volunteer efforts by....
    Assisted the non-profit’s goal of raising...

    I hope this helps, Radius.

    Teena Rose

  3. #3
    Thanks for your response.

    It is true that I did do some things to help. My concern is that the majority of time was spent looking after my brother, so that my Mom could focus on her tasks at that event. So if I list that I volunteered for a specified period of time, but the majority of that time was not spent volunteering, is that misleading?

  4. #4
    Resident Expert ResumeWriter's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Springfield, OH
    You're right, Radius. This is definitely tricky. You may just want to leave out of your resume and applications. The role is iffy to define -- and rather than get cornered by a hiring manager trying to seek more definition about this position, excluding the role may be the wiser option.

  5. #5
    Hi Radius,

    May I ask how old you are? How much relevant work experience do you have? Education?

    I am curious why you are even considering listing this volunteer experience. Generally I only recommend that job-seekers list volunteer experience if it is very current, if it is directly related to the job for which they are applying, or if they have very limited work experience. Do you fit into any of these three categories?

    If so, I would recommend dressing up this volunteer experience. It's more important that you can skill-sell the experience you gained from it than being able to recount the various duties (or lack thereof) you had to do.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Expert bburkeconsulting's Avatar
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    Mar 2015
    Washington DC Metro Area
    @ Brett -- my question exactly.

    This is not a concern if you're talking about a seasoned professional.

  7. #7

    Red face

    Agree, if this person is a professional with a solid employment record and skills, then it is not a concern. However, it appears as though this person is more junior level. This may or may not be relevant depending on the career level and experience of the individual asking the question.

    My only thought would be this:

    If the contribution was meaningful, and can be developed and presented in a way that truly adds value to a professional profile, then it should be included.

    If not, it should be left off.

    I realize that is somewhat open for interpretation, but it is more of a question of looking at value and how this experience fits into the overall professional profile to determine its appropriateness.

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