How to Maximize Your Girl Scout Volunteer Experience on Your Résumé
You already know that you do amazing things as a Girl Scout volunteer, but do potential employers?
Making your volunteer experience pop professionally on your résumé can give you a leg up in your job search, whether you’re seeking a new role at your current workplace, are looking to change jobs, or want to reenter the workforce after a break. “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place… but Girl Scouting also builds resumes,” says Lindsay Hayden from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
So what’s the best way to showcase your vast skillset and go-getter attitude to potential employers? Use the following tips from our volunteer experts!
1) List the hard and soft skills you’ve learned through Girl Scouts.
Start by making a list of your regular responsibilities and any hard skills you've gained through your volunteer work. “I include some specific examples of what I do, such as lead troop meetings, coordinate badge and award requirements, serve as an adviser and mentor to older girls so they can develop their own leadership style, and chaperone girls on camping adventures and at educational and cultural events,” says Cheryl Lentsch from Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska.
“As a service unit manager, I’m keen to discuss the organizational, educational, and motivational aspects of the position,” says Nancy Fink from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. “Because so many workplaces involve nontraditional schedules and locations, I also make sure to discuss the distributed nature of [my] job.”
If you think your soft skills aren't résumé-worthy, think again! A 2017 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of CEOs shows that 77 percent of respondents viewed underdeveloped soft skills as a threat to business. Including the soft skills you’ve honed gives your résumé an edge! “The soft skills I mention are project and time management, leadership, presentation skills, and [being a] team player, because I definitely need all of these skills in my role as a Girl Scout leader,” explains Cheryl.
2) Tailor your résumé to each position you apply for.
As a Girl Scout troop leader, you fulfill many roles, but not every role will be appropriate for every position. This distinction is important, according to Lindsay. “As an educator, I highlight my willingness and ability to work with diverse groups of children as they engage in cooperative learning in a girl-led environment,” she says. “When I set my sights on adult-facing roles, though, I shift the focus and fine tune my elevator pitch to articulate that I effectively manage people and money.”
Using the list of hard and soft skills you just created, align them to the roles or employers that you're interested in. A tailored résumé should make your skillset crystal clear to employers; consider creating multiple versions of your résumé if you‘re applying for roles in different fields.
3) Decide whether to include a volunteer section on your résumé.
A dedicated volunteer section on your résumé showcases your values and commitment to a cause, so if you're hoping to work at a nonprofit or a company with a strong social mission, create a separate volunteer section.
Looking to fill some gaps in your résumé? Your role as a troop leader is an ongoing commitment, not a one-off volunteer project, which makes it a worthy addition to the work section of your résumé. For clarity, include your volunteer status in the role description.
No matter where you list your volunteer experience, best résumé practices still apply: use active verbs, be specific, and note any accomplishments or awards you’ve achieved as a troop leader.
4) Use storytelling to share specific examples of your skills.
Telling the stories that feature your skills are just as important as listing the skills themselves. Be prepared to share a story—whether in your cover letter or during an interview—that shows how you successfully overcame a challenge.
“When the opportunity presents itself, I talk about troop camping,” Lindsay shares. “There is nothing that better demonstrates one’s ability to plan, budget, improvise, and put out fires—literally and figuratively—than a few nights in the wilderness with children. At the end of my story, my audience should understand that, although I can pitch a tent, tie some knots, and fend off an aggressive raccoon, I can also plan, problem solve, persevere, and perform first aid or CPR on a colleague if the need arises.”
“You should always be prepared to talk about the ideals of Girl Scouting that align with your personal ideals, like how it’s important to be a role model for young women or how you enjoy challenging people to do new things,” adds Nancy.
Show potential employers who you are as a person and just how much you have to offer! Your Girl Scout volunteer experience might just give you the competitive advantage your résumé needs.