I get this question a lot but the most interesting thing is that I rarely get this question from men.
It is like men somehow understand the resume is a reflection of experience, not just paid experience. Women, on the other hand, tend to devalue everything they do.
Work history is history of work performed and experience gained, not whether it was paid. All experience, whether volunteer or not, is relevant to a resume. Such experience should not be labeled under "volunteer" or "hobbies" but simply within work history.
Take volunteer activities, for example. Volunteer is such an interesting term. People consider anything they do without payment as volunteer. But what does a volunteer do?
Organize activities and events. Promote activities and events. Manage social media accounts. Manage materials and people. Create opportunities for others.
Doesn't that sound like experience relevant to any employer?
An example for someone who manages social media pages and groups:
Social Media Community Specialist1998-2005Created, managed, maintained, promoted, and supervised administrators for, several social media pages and group communities where members with various fandom and personal interests collaborate, exchange ideas, and support each other in their passions. Active membership for many group pages number in the thousands.
You also have the option of putting volunteer activities under a "Volunteer" heading. If you occasionally help out an organization or community group, that may be the best option. But if you have taken on a leadership role, once or regularly, it should be better highlighted than just something you do "for fun."
Unless you are selling one or two items per year, which would be more economical on CraigsList than eBay any way, eBay is like running a small business.
An eBay seller must identify items that will sell (purchasing agent), must price according to the market (marketing and accounting), maintain inventory (inventory manager), receive orders/package/ship (Receiving and Shipping), respond to customer questions and complaints (customer service), track costs and sales (accounting), and compile tax information (accounting).
These skills are clearly relevant to workforce experience.
Product Seller1998-2005Identified marketable products for resell, listed appropriately priced items, marketed products, maintained inventory, packaged and mailed sold items, responded to customer inquiries and complaints, tracked costs, and maintained accounts receivable and payable.
You could even add the growth or profit margin (actual numbers or percentages) you attained as an added example of your capabilities and success.
I once knew a woman that left the corporate world to become a homemaker. When she decided to re-enter the corporate world she listed her activities on her resume like any other experience.
Domestic Engineer1998 - 2005Coordinated busy calendars for various activities of household members. Arranged transportation. Managed and replenished household inventory. Planned healthy meals for diverse tastes. Maintained several bank accounts and accounts payable. Created social activities and events. Inspired, motivated, and supported diverse individuals to attain their goals.
More women should describe domestic activities this way. Not only should women recognize the actual skills domestic work entails, but society could use some education as well.
But you have to own it - believe it. If you do not, it will seem like you are not taking the resume and employer seriously.
An employer should recognize such descriptions as 1) creative, 2) relevant, and 3) true.
If he or she does not, do you really want to work for a company that does not value you and your contributions?
If an employer cannot see the value in your social contributions, will he or she recognize your contributions in the workplace?
There are several ethical and honest ways to present experience on a resume that makes them relevant to employers.
We first have to recognize our experiences as, not just relevant, but valuable - particularly women.