How Volunteering Can Benefit Your Job Search
Volunteer experience can help you land the job, among other benefits
By Kirsten Malenke
Volunteering is an often overlooked opportunity that reaps a host of benefits. According to Lauren Milligan, a resume writer and job search coach with ResuMAYDAY, a job search tool and coaching provider, “Volunteering is a great entrance into a job, as long as you’re a diligent, committed, and reliable volunteer. Just about every job-seeker in any industry can advance their job prospects by volunteering. Not only will they gain experience and meet influential people, but they will also be able to add this experience to their resumes.”
So before you write off volunteer work because you think you don’t have enough time or would prefer to be paid for your skills, take a look at the list ADVANCE has put together below — you might just be convinced otherwise.
It bolsters your resume. Volunteer experience can make a big difference during the hiring process when the hiring manager is deciding between you and another candidate. Especially in the healthcare field, volunteering shows your commitment to helping people and that you may have some experience within your chosen field. According to Matt Tanneberg, DC, CSCS, a sports chiropractor in Phoenix, “Volunteering is crucial for getting a job in healthcare. The health field is all about helping others and there is no better way to help others than volunteering your own time. When I weed through applications, the volunteer field is one of the biggest things I look for. Regardless of the position I am hiring for, volunteer experience tells a lot about a person.” Make sure to include volunteer experiences on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
It can expand your personal and professional network. Volunteering is a great way to establish beneficial relationships and contacts. You might acquire a mentor and make new friends among the people you work with in a volunteer setting. You might also build your reference list or work with people who can connect you to future job opportunities.
It can help you gain skills and experience. Volunteer work may offer you the opportunity to learn new skills or sharpen those you already have. It can also broaden your working experience by providing a different setting and the opportunity to interact with a greater variety of people.
It can allow you to demonstrate leadership and responsibility. As Andrea Adams-Miller, MPH, CHES, and CEO of The RED Carpet Connection Publishing, Publicity & Talent Agency told ADVANCE, volunteer activities reflect social responsibility. “Candidates who regularly engage in community service outside of work tend to be the employees who work diligently for the satisfaction of a job well done. They are more likely to be focused on team effort rather than personal reward. Furthermore, they are liable to volunteer to assume additional responsibilities in the workplace,” said Adams-Miller. Volunteer experience usually serves as strong evidence that you have initiative and take your responsibilities and commitments seriously.
It looks good if you experience an employment gap. Milligan added that through volunteer work, “an employment gap can get filled or it can show a logical path to support a career transition.” If you’ve experienced an employment gap, employers will want to know why. Volunteering in your free time is an indication that you have not been idle and are still looking to gain skills in between jobs.
It feels good to volunteer. Put simply, it feels good to volunteer. Helping others can have a positive influence on your happiness and confidence.
Kirsten Malenke is a staff writer at ADVANCE. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org