Whether you’ll be graduating soon or already have and are actively seeking employment, having volunteer experience on your resume will help with your career. Not only is it great experience for any job seeker to have volunteered their time and learned more about their trade, but it shows that you are a hard worker and dedicated to improving your knowledge in your field of interest. Instead of having a hole in your resume, fill it with volunteer work. Here are a few more benefits of volunteering:
It helps build your network.
You’ll meet all kinds of people that might have openings in their organization or know someone who does, as well as the right people to put you in touch with. If nothing else, you’ll likely find some good references if you do impressive volunteer work.
You’ll learn new skills.
Volunteering can open up a world of opportunities to learn more. It also gives you a chance to use your own skills in new ways. Organization, research, and good communication skills, for example, can be applicable to many different industries.
Hiring managers appreciate volunteerism.
Not only is volunteering philanthropic, it shows that you are dedicated – which can really help your resume stand out. Many hiring managers look for this quality on resumes.
When a job seeker is in a financial position to spend some time volunteering, it can be a great opportunity to expand professional networks and even improve job search positioning. In fact, many job seekers do not realize that volunteer activity can be included in the "experience" section of a resume if the role meets certain criteria.
First, it is best that the experience be consistent and ongoing for a period of time, whether one commits to volunteering 2 or 20 hours per week.
Second, seek opportunities that are formal and can be tracked by the organization. Not only does this help the organization, but it can help avoid any confusion should a potential employer call to verify involvement with the organization.
Third, be sure the opportunity will allow you to demonstrate professional skills that are relevant to the workplace so that you can add further value to your job search campaign.
Volunteering a specific skill set may also build relationships that could pay off in the long run. For example, if a graphic designer volunteers their time, nonprofits might remember the designer and, when times are better, this could lead to a job or a referral!
Perhaps just as important, volunteering can help job seekers overcome the feeling of isolation. Being in a professional environment, collaborating with peers, and keeping skills sharp are benefits that contribute to overall self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. This, in turn, can energize the whole job search and the improvement in motivation and achievement will often be carried into an interview.
Ultimately, volunteering is a low-risk and (potentially) high-return investment of time that can breathe new life into your job search!
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