Monday, September 08, 2008

Community Organizer on Resume

Whether you're a community organizer or working under a community leader, your involvement in the nonprofit sector is valuable and speaks volumes about who you are as a person and potential employee. For that reason, definitely list your community service on your resume, especially if it's relevant to your job objective. (The only reason not to list your volunteerism is if it discloses information about yourself that might conflict with your job objective, e.g., your political, religious, or sexual preferences.)

In Community Organizers, Unsung Heroes, Alison Doyle writes the following (in reference to Sarah Palin's sarcastic comments about Barack Obama's work as a community organizer, compared to Palin's position as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.):

I honestly don't understand what's the matter with having a meaningful job where you help others, and why it provides less experience than being mayor of a town of 5,469 (when she was mayor) people, which, by the way, Palin left $20 million in debt?

In a comment to a related post by Alison, Rallying Around Community Organizers, I wrote:
Community involvement is incredibly important and can be put on anyone's resume (even if they're not running for president) with pride. Often it's what people do for little or no money that tells us where their hearts are.

Listing Volunteer Work on a Resume, on the Ask a Manager blog, brought up the same point for me. Here's my comment after that post:
I think it's fine to list unpaid experience under your work history section without mentioning that it was volunteer. Just be sure the heading of the section doesn't imply that you were paid. For instance, instead of Employment History, use a heading such as Experience or History.

I also feel that community service is incredibly valuable, and can be listed on a resume with pride. I'm outraged by McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, sneering at Obama's work as a community organizer. (I realize Obama was paid for his work but it still falls under the category of nonprofit work.) Palin should be ashamed of discounting the value of community experience and leadership. By putting it on his resume, Obama made a difference as to how I'm casting my vote! Likewise, your community work might make a difference in how an employer makes his selection for a new employee.

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