Salute to Spouses Blog

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Volunteer Work is Work Experience

You have organized the unit mandatory fun day and the spouses’ luncheons.

You have worked with dozens of Cub Scouts every week for an exhausting year.

You have taught Vacation Bible School, handled the finances for the FRG and took notes during the PTA meetings.

You have put in hundreds of volunteer hours over the years. Now, do yourself a favor. Put all that experience on paper. It can help you find a job.

When my husband’s orders took us overseas, I was excited at the prospect of finding a new job. New challenges. New co-workers to meet. New experiences.

After six months of searching, I was over it. And entrenched myself in volunteer work, nearly 40 hours a week worth, for four different organizations.

I managed organizations of 100+ people. I handled finances in excess of $50,000. I planned, organized and executed a week-long event for over 300 scouts.

Sounds like work to me.

And it is.

At our next duty station, after four years out of the actual workforce but with hundreds of volunteer hours under my belt, that is what was at the top of my resume. And those experiences are why I was hired at my current, paying job.

Your volunteer work is you, at work, exercising your soft and hard skillsets - managing people, data, events and even equipment. Non-profits rely on the expertise of volunteers who can give not just their time, but their abilities.

On your resume, when you list volunteer work, don’t just list the organization. Bullet point each of your responsibilities and accomplishments as well as any accolades you receive. And do not be modest. Were you an integral part of a fundraising campaign? How much did you raise? How many more volunteers did you sign up? How many people attended your events?

Employers know volunteer work can be hard work. Show them what you’ve done. Show them what you can do for them too as a paid employee.

And those organizations you worked so hard for? Ask your supervisor there to be a reference. If you were a volunteer the non-profit relied on to get the job done, they will be happy to tell a future employer that. 

And if you are out of work and need work experience? Find a non-profit to volunteer for, and see it as a job, not just a volunteer thing you do once in a while. Commit to the cause and the tasks that organization needs completed. Do your best work, see the project through, consider it to be your job. You will gain work experience, resume fodder and will probably have a great time.

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

Salute to Spouses Scholarship Recipients