How to List Volunteer Work as a Military or Foreign Service Spouse


As military and foreign service spouses, you've probably done unpaid work at some point in your life. Maybe you volunteered for the unit or organization your spouse is associated with or helped out at a local nonprofit. Many of you hold positions on committees or in organizations.

While this work is not paid, it's no less important than paid work. Forget about distinguishing between the two when it comes to telling your work history. Think of them as one and the same. If you must list salary on an employment application or it's requested for a federal resume, include that information, but for all other purposes, paid and unpaid work is equal. Below are different types of unpaid work and how to include it on your resume.

Outside of Work

Once you're far beyond school years, you can be more strategic about the portrayal of your volunteer experience. If you hold leadership roles in the community, you may want to create a section after Work Experience entitled Community Leadership and list the details of your roles. For other types of volunteer work, simply list it under Additional Information at the bottom of your resume; include the organization and your role. If you haven't volunteered for an organization within the past few years, it probably doesn't make sense to include it.

Taking Time Off

There are many reasons for taking time off work – having children, caring for elderly relatives, or moving due to a spouse’s relocation. If you've taken on volunteer work during this time (anything from work in schools to religious organizations), include it as you would any job under Work Experience. Be sure to put together a few bullets to describe the work you did and its purpose or impact.

Changing Careers?

If you're switching careers to the nonprofit sector or anything that requires a volunteer base, it's even more important to showcase your unpaid work. You might consider putting a Volunteer Experience section directly under your Career Profile at the top of your resume to ensure it's not missed when you submit your application. An employer needs to know that you understand that world in order to break into it.

Military spouses and foreign service spouses should always remember to include these types of work on their resumes, it can help fill gaps in careers, or show flexibility to a potential employer. For more tips on including volunteer work on your resume, check out our Facebook page this week!