Most people view volunteering as an activity that only those passionate about a cause have the time or energy for, but it is actually a worthwhile endeavor for a multitude of reasons. Besides providing positive benefits to yourself and the community, volunteering can be great for finding a job or your future career.
Many times we focus solely on the skills that we think employers want to see, and that enables us to do a specific job, but when every other applicant has those exact same skills there is little to set you apart. Something different on your resume, like time spent volunteering for an organization or a cause can be the one thing that catches the attention of a recruiter.
This one activity, done with intention and regularity, can not only make all the difference in helping you land a job now but can set you up for career success. It establishes you in a way that sets you above other job applicants and professionals already in the field.
These are just some of the biggest ways in which a little time spent as a volunteer can pump up your resume and help you land the job of your dreams.
Hiring Boost Factor
A person who volunteers has a 27% better chance of gaining employment than their non-volunteering counterpart. And that rises to 57% for those who do not have a high school degree. Having this extra at the bottom of a list of skills and education is eye-catching and sets you apart. It indicates that you are not only focused on skill-building activities but using the skills and time that you have for the benefit of others.
Potential hires are all ranked by the skills they possess as well as the potential they have with a company. Office and business culture are increasely aware of the social responsibility they have in a community and want to know that their new hire will fit into the company’s giving-back culture. Already having volunteerism on your resume, brings your resume to the top.
The hiring boost factor here shows that you are a committed person, dedicated to the community and causes around you, and take action when you see a need. All of these things are great in new hires and future employees.
When you volunteer you are going to find yourself in an interesting mix of individuals from all walks of life and levels of business. From founders to business owners to stay-at-home moms/dads and passionate students, volunteers come from all backgrounds.
The average employee now stays with a company an average of 5 years. When you feel it’s time to move on, the network among volunteers can be a great place to start. Working together with people in your community breaks down barriers and gives you a lot of common interests and goals, making it easier to network with other volunteers than you might otherwise be able to in everyday interactions.
Because volunteer work is not competitive like an academic or professional arena would be, most people are more open to sharing their time, effort, and contacts. Be sure to converse with your fellow volunteers, let others know what you do, and opportunities will present themselves naturally.
The Niche Factor
A lot of times we know that we want to work in a certain industry, but don’t yet know what specific role or area in the industry we would excel. Working as a volunteer can help you determine what skills you are great at or need to work on, give you some goals to work towards, and maybe even give you the chance to shadow or work in different roles.
The opportunities for learning and discovering are great, and some opportunities even end up providing you with new skills. Many organizations will take the time to train reliable people in skills and management, giving you real experience that would otherwise have to wait until post-grad.
This factor can impact your future the most and is almost purely beneficial to you as a volunteer. The best part is that all of this can be done in a low-pressure setting where your time and talents are appreciated. Time spent learning or focusing on a specific area can propel you right into the position you want.
New Skill Factor
Just as time as a volunteer can help you hone in on the work you want to do, it can help you develop the skills to get there. Whether you are already well skilled or lack a few skills, the time as a volunteer will bring along new experiences and new opportunities to learn.
An employee that is continuing to master a trade, continuing education, and taking the time to expand his knowledge is an asset to a company. Be sure to highlight these experiences and time spent taking on more in a volunteer role if you are job hunting.
Even without realizing it, the work that you do with an organization shows that you have skills that can’t be paid for but that employers want to see. Everything from teamwork to time management to project completion and goal setting are skills that your volunteering can validate. Employers want to know that they are bringing someone on that will be an asset and help drive a team rather than hinder it, so they look for areas where you are able to prove that you have mastered these skills.
The Confidence Factor
All of the other factors combined together should give anyone the confidence to enter the job market and go after the position you know you are meant for. With new skills under your belt, a great network of people behind you, and some know-how and real experience, a volunteer is fully capable of securing a job.
This is why so many individuals say that volunteering provides them with just as many benefits as it does the organization or cause for which they are giving their time. Use what you’ve learned to show employers that you are ready to take on more and can be an asset to their company.