Wednesday, November 08, 2006

10 Years of Volunteering

I am working with one of our consumers on an application and he has not worked in about 10 years, at least not for pay. He has volunteered at our hospital for 10 years, however. I am having difficulty knowing how to help him explain this long lapse in employment. He does receive Social Security and lives with his elderly mother, so he did not have to work but he would now like to. I would appreciate any suggestions you have. -- An independent-living consultant (who asked this question through JobStar)

by Susan Ireland
My answer starts with the question: What does your consumer (a.k.a. client) want to do for his next job?

If he wants a job in a hospital, he should use a chronological resume format and put his volunteer experience in his Experience section, writing bullet point statements that support his job objective. There’s no need for him to state on his resume that it was a volunteer position or to discuss his Social Security checks.

If he wants a job that’s not related to his hospital work, he should use a functional resume format in which he would list his hospital experience on one line in the Work History section. In the body of the resume under Relevant Experience he would create skill headings with bullet point statements that draw from any of his paid or unpaid experiences, including activities at home (such as managing his mom’s finances), school (such as relevant classes he has taken), personal interests (such as sports or hobbies), and work performed previous to his hospital volunteerism.

Because you said that you are an independent-living consultant, I gather your client is living with a disability. If that’s the case, your client doesn’t need to refer to his disability on his resume unless his disability supports his job objective. For example, if he is deaf and he’s applying for a position as a sign language specialist, he might put a statement like this in his Summary of Qualifications section:

- Fluent in signing, having grown up with it as my “first language.”

I hope this is helpful, and I wish you the best with your work with your client!

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