Volunteer experience

Should you include volunteer work on a resume?

October 20, 2011: 11:26 AM ET

With many talented workers experiencing stretches of unemployment, employers are taking a harder look at unpaid experience. Here's what to include -- and what to leave out.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis, contributorResume Job Hunting

FORTUNE -- Scale Computing chief executive Jeff Ready recently was interviewing job candidates for a position whose duties included coordinating all-hands meetings at the Indianapolis-based manufacturer. One prospective employee's resume included her experience planning an annual fundraiser for a local charity, several years in a row.

"To me, that experience was awesome. She had done it for four to five years; she obviously liked doing it, or she wouldn't have done it for free," says Ready.

The volunteer work stood out because her resume described the event planning experience and how many attendees were involved, making it clear that it was a substantial amount of responsibility. "You've got that four or five-second opportunity to say something that's going to grab my attention," Ready says. "In that case it was that I'm the lead event planner for the big charity event."

Increasingly, corporate bosses like Ready are taking note of job candidates' volunteer efforts. They recognize that in the recent recession, talented employees may have had stretches of unemployment that they filled with unpaid work. A recent LinkedIn (LNKD) survey found that 41% of hiring managers consider volunteer experience equally valuable as paid work. More

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