View Full Version : Putting non-work activities on your resume?

8-5-11, 1:48am
I'm going to update my resume (I've not done it in a few years), just because of the current merger and moving to the new office.

How many of you put volunteer activities/leadership positions on your resume? Mine are all religious-related. I've heard it's a major no-no to put that sort of thing on your resume. However, I've got some significant things.

*President (and webmaster!) of local denominational organization, will end up holding office for four years
*Significant organizing skills. I can do anything from planning someone else's wedding at the drop of a hat (which I've done!) to organizing all sorts of events to serving as the secretary for my cycle of theological classes AND now being secretary for the program that's going region-wide.
*I've also done an intense 2.5 year course (theological, course work pretty equivalent to grad school, roughly on par with an M.Div, aside from no thesis and no Greek classes) at the same time as working full-time. I've had to give presentations to class on a regular basis that have significantly improved my public speaking skills (I get extremely nervous, but I'm much better than I was).

This is all in addition to my journalism degree and newspaper experience (20 years ago now - wow!) that always impress people.

Anne Lee
8-5-11, 6:44am
The only info I have on my resume is work related. I'm in the environmental education sector so things like being on the city park and rec board is relevant but my volunteer positions at church are not.

8-5-11, 6:54am
The danger of putting your extracurriculars on your resume, is that you can be discriminated for this information. Even if there is a positive bias towards your religious activities, an HR person or hiring manager can refuse to look at your resume just for fear that you'll sue if not hired. And then there are those who may be anti religion, or are concerned that you're going to try to convert on the job (I know your denomination doesn't do this, but not everyone does), or think you might not be a team player or be one of those "holier than thou" employees who just have to comment on all the "trangressions" of other employees.

Not saying any of this is right, but its a reality.

I wouldn't necessarily hide this in the interview, but I don't think it belongs on the resume.

Float On
8-5-11, 8:36am
I would do two resumes. One including all the extras and one straight forward. You might get a feel for which one you might submit depending on whatever job prospects may come up.

8-5-11, 8:52am
Here in the UK, it is usual to add a small section to your CV regarding interests/hobbies. However, it is also usual practice NOT to mention religious 'hobbies'/interests - except in passing, ie 'active in my local church'.

Zoe Girl
8-5-11, 9:02am
Is there a way to list the skills related to what you have done personally or with your church but not with how you got those skills? So something like 'comfortable and prepared speaking in front of multi-age groups from 5 -50 participants' or 'organized formal events for attendance of X including meals and entertainment'. I have done a lot of volunteer work that is in my field, such as with the library when I work in education so I try to really break it down to details. It is easy to assume i read stories to 5 kids if I don't explain running a program for 25 children that was literacy focused and theme based.I think you should take credit for what you have done, but focus more on the data of number of people and tasks rather than the relationship you have with the person or organization you did this with. Make sense?

8-5-11, 9:03am
I think it depends on the local culture. Here in Texas, I think it would raise few eyebrows, especially if the resume were carefully written to emphasize the skills over the church. (Ie, Experienced in organizing events for groups ranging from 50 to 5000 for local church). In the NW where I moved from, church membership is much more unusual and employers would be concerned that church affiliation might leak into the workplace. I'm not sure about Chicago--I think I would minimize it with bigger companies that are likely to be "by the book" and less so with smaller, privately owned companies.

8-5-11, 9:22am
I do put my volunteering on my resume, but I'm a freelance translator, and it's all language/cultural stuff, so it's relevant. Maybe you could keep the header as "Volunteering experience" or something like that and then give the examples as above "Did XYZ for a 500-member non-profit organization" instead of naming the organization.

8-5-11, 9:51am
I'd do it the way Zoe said, and you could just call it something other than a church, like "community activity" or "volunteer activity", both of which churches certainly are. I would not leave these off as you have much to offer because of your experience.

I'd also think (since you are in Chicago and I lived in Chicago 30 years) you might want to target a job search at denominations other than your own, such as Willow Creek or any of the mega ministries or Catholic Charities--there are many faith-based organizations that would love to have your experience and expertise, and are open to hiring people of other faiths. You might really enjoy something like parish administration, working for someone like Loyola, or McCormick Theological seminary (bad commute) but you get the idea!

8-5-11, 11:35am
I am an absolute advocate FOR putting unpaid work on your resume, in the appropriate skills category. I have 2 resume templates that I tailor for each position - a chronological one & a skills set one. The unpaid work fits in quite well on the skills set resume.

I also have a section titled Selected Community Service ('selected' implies that I do a lot - which is true). This is where I put volunteer Board service.

8-5-11, 12:31pm
I have listed non-profit type volunteering I have done when I applied for a part-time job at a non-profit (it was more relevant than my work experience!) (Then again I never heard back from them). None of this was religious by the way.

But for corporate America no ........ I'm all business, I live, breath and sleep business, and have no life outside of working and making your company profitable, yep (or so I lead them to think anyway :)).

8-5-11, 12:34pm
Actually, I'm not looking to switch jobs. The layoffs and merger in the past week have just been a catalyst to remind me to update my resume, which I've not done in a while.

I actually don't want to work for a religious organization. One, the pay is often bad, and if you're working for a congregation, they either want you to be a member and/or work Sunday mornings. I can tell you right now that many conservative Protesant organizations won't touch me with a ten foot pole because of being Orthodox. I've had enough friends who worked for such grouos who were either fired or demoted for becoming Orthodox.

8-5-11, 12:36pm
I'm in int'l shipping and with 18 years experience, plan to remain in it.

8-5-11, 4:48pm
I see. Can you transfer some of your recently developed skills into trade organization work within the shipping industry?

8-5-11, 7:25pm
Trust me when I say that I have a large amount of experience with resumes, both of my own and as a CEO reading them.

My advice: Your resume should list those skills that directly answer to the requirements of the specific job that you are applying for. If that includes work in a religious setting, so be it. If not, leave it out. There's no sense in hiding your religious affiliations, because if you get hired you'll be found out anyway. It's best to be weeded out in the application process than to find yourself in a job that is antagonistic to your beliefs.

This business about being discriminated against is mostly hot air. That's the whole point of the application/interview process--to pick one person over another for any variety of reasons.

Tell the truth as it applies to the job. Fit the requirements of the job. Bring strong credentials regardless of where your obtained them.

That all having been said, at this point you should create a Master Resume that includes all of your skills. Then when you find a job that you want to apply for you can use a second copy, deleting those items that don't apply.

8-6-11, 5:44am
I have 25+ years of work in an environmental-related nonprofit activity, I've mentioned it in a category titled "Awards and Activities" for the last 20.

8-8-11, 4:32pm
I would leave it off. Not because of the religious side of it (which is significant for some), but because it showcases how involved you are in life outside of work. Many employers may say they want you to have a balanced life, but I in my opinion all they really want is 100% commitment to them. Perhaps not realistic, but I would not advertise this on a resume if I was looking for work.

8-9-11, 12:44pm
As a CEO looking at resumes I wanted to see a life outside of work. A well-balanced worker is a productive worker.

8-10-11, 11:38pm
Something happened today that has made me decide in favor of putting my non-work activities on resume, just in a "coded" way to not highlight the religion aspect.

The details are unimportant, but my bishop called me today and asked me to fill out a term (would be for one year) on our church's national governing council, which would also mean sitting unelected on our diocesan council (diocese is large and covers 10 states). There was some confusion if the alternate would be able to serve - turns out he is able to serve, but they thought originally he wouldn't, which is why I asked. So I won't be doing it, but it was implied I might be asked to do something similar in the future.

If I'm going to be doing something at the regional or national level, I will be sure to mention it!