How to Describe Work and Volunteer Experience

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

careertrend article image
Jupiterimages/ Images

When interviewing for a new job, you want to present as much relevant information about your experience to your potential employer as possible. Most of the time, this means telling your boss about past paid positions you've held. If some or all of your experience comes from volunteer positions, you will want to highlight this for your interviewer, as well. The goal is to show management that you possess skills that will benefit the company.

Describe previously held positions. Most interviewers will ask you to describe your last job, or your last several jobs. Be sure to tailor this response to the position for which you are applying. For instance, if you are applying for an accounting position, be sure to highlight your experience dealing with money, spreadsheets and accounting or financial software.

Redirect questions about past employment to highlight relevant volunteer experience. Often a potential employer will only ask about the paid positions on your resume. When this happens, explain that you have gained valuable experience through volunteering. For example, if an interviewer asks you to describe an achievement at your last job that you are most proud of, you might answer, "My proudest moment actually is from the volunteer work I do, where I was able to raise $3,000 for autism awareness by hosting a 5K race." Volunteer experience shows future employers that you have more to contribute than can be detailed on a resume, and that you are motivated to succeed even without a financial incentive.

Follow up with a letter. Following up with a letter is a good idea under any circumstances, even if it's simply to thank the interviewer for his time and to reiterate your interest in the position. If you left the interview feeling like you didn't get to tell the interviewer everything you meant to, the follow-up letter is an extremely valuable tool. Try to tie the missing information to something that was said during the interview. For example, if during the interview, the employer told you the work involved leading a team, describe responsibilities you may have had as a Girl Scout leader or in coordinating volunteers at the hospital.