Strategic volunteering enables you to learn more about the activities you enjoy, make important contacts, and gain crucial skills and experience that you can use in your career.
Studies show how volunteering helps you get a job. According to a Corporation for National and Community Service report, applicants with volunteer experience are 27% more likely to find a job than applicants who do not volunteer.
And Deloitte found that 81% of hiring managers believe that skilled volunteerism should be considered in a hiring decision. Let’s look at how volunteering can advance your career.
Why hiring managers value volunteer experience
It can be challenging to decide whether to list your interests on your resume, but sometimes it’s the best way to stand out from the crowd. Employers are always looking for people who fit into their culture, and if you have similar interests to the rest of the team, you have an advantage over others. Mentioning your volunteer experience is an opportunity to make that connection when they evaluate new hires.
Companies don’t just hire candidates who meet every single requirement of the job description. They look for many things in a resume. They hire an individual who has a good work ethic and fits their company’s culture. That’s why when you list experience on your resume, it’s crucial to include volunteer work and accomplishments in a previous job. You’ll be surprised how much your volunteer experience reveals to hiring managers.
How your career prospects benefit from volunteering
Volunteering is a win-win situation. On the one hand, you are giving back to the community, expanding your network of peers and friends, and making a difference in your community. On the other hand, if you choose to volunteer in a field related to your intended profession, you may meet people who share your interests or have jobs similar to yours.
Engineering students looking for experience will find volunteering helpful by providing many good opportunities. Engineers can have a huge impact on global society with projects like developing solutions to local water shortages, finding clean energy sources like solar power, or solving technical problems in healthcare.
One of the benefits of volunteer work is gaining experience and training in areas you may not have learned on the job or in your formal education. It can also be a great way to improve your resume, add solid references, and learn about other companies you may want to work for someday.
What skills can you learn through volunteering?
Volunteering may not pay you much money or any at all, but you will learn a lot. Volunteering is not just about giving back to the community – it’s also a great way to improve your skills and gain experience. You can learn soft skills while volunteering that will undoubtedly help you succeed in your career.
The best thing you can get out of volunteering is the opportunity to practice and develop your leadership skills. You can test your limits and determine what kind of leader you are. Leadership skills are among the essential skills for managers who want to succeed in their work environment – they are critical for leading by example, motivating others, and making practical plans. Whatever career path you choose, you’ll need to realize your leadership potential.
Volunteering for a project is challenging because you have limited time to complete it. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are often tested, and many volunteers must make critical decisions to complete the project. Volunteering is valuable because it provides real-world experience in solving problems.
Employers want employees who remain calm in difficult situations and actively find solutions to help the company grow. Industries where many issues need to be solved include engineering, research and development, law, accounting, public relations, and IT.
There are many opportunities to expand your skills by volunteering with different organizations and in various capacities. For example, fundraising would be an excellent opportunity for someone who wants to practice their sales skills. Working on a political campaign could help someone hone their communication and organizational skills. Spending time engaging with people with different cultural or socio-economic backgrounds will broaden your mind and make you more aware of the importance of inclusion in the workforce.
How to get the most out of volunteering to improve your skills
Keeping track of what you learn, when you learn it, and how you contributed can make your resume or cover letter <link to writing cover letter article> much more meaningful. It will also help you remember and learn lessons from your experience at a later stage.
At the end of each day, write down all the tasks you completed, any training you received, what you’ve learned from it, as well as any other exceptional experiences that day. You may want to ask your supervisor for references that can help you when you need a job in the future.
As a volunteer, you may find yourself in a country or work environment that is unfamiliar to you. Educate yourself on new perspectives and unique cultures – feel free to ask questions, get involved, and integrate. The best way to get the most out of your volunteer experience is to be open to what others want to teach you.
Plans can change unexpectedly, but be understanding and adaptable when they do. You need to step out of your comfort zone and be willing to adapt when things change unexpectedly. If you exercise those resilience muscles, you’ll be more robust and able to face career challenges when your volunteer efforts land you the job you’ve had your eye on. That’s just one of the many benefits of volunteer work.