By Heléne Kass, Career Coach
Would you believe that volunteering can actually help you find a job, or stand out in your current position? A 2009 survey conducted by Reed Employment and TimeBank found that 84% of employers view employees who undertake volunteering as positive.
We know employers prefer hiring candidates with solid work histories. If you are seeking employment, listing a volunteer position in your professional work history shows that you’ve been doing something constructive since your last job. This conveys your sustained engagement and closes unemployment gaps. It may give you just the edge you need to be the candidate who gets called in for an interview.
Let’s acknowledge that when we’re temporarily out of work, financially fighting to stay afloat, volunteering is often not on our minds at all. It is sometimes hard to think of giving when we are so desperate to receive. Volunteering is a reason to get out of the house and be around people, and it can provide structure for our days. Being of service to someone else can lessen self-pity, help us feel grateful for what we do have and give us a fuller sense of ourselves.
How can volunteering make you more marketable in the eyes of a prospective employer? If you are in between jobs, volunteer work can help you keep your skills current, as well as learn new skills and get experience using them. This is also an advantage for new graduates seeking work, career changers seeking to acquire new skills, and job seekers wanting to learn current technology.
Think about an industry or business you are interested in learning more about. Are there particular people you would like to meet and work with? Volunteering may get you where you want to go because it is a way to make contacts, build relationships, expand your network and learn of other job opportunities. When you volunteer, you learn about job openings first hand. You see the empty office or cubicle long before the job opening is posted.
Here are some helpful pointers:
- Select volunteer work that serves you and your career goals; be intentional.
- If the volunteer work serves your career goals, include it in your resume.
- When volunteering, seek mentors, people who are willing to share their expertise and help you learn the ropes.
- Be open to new opportunities within the organization. People who are willing to speak well on your behalf can become your references. Expand your network with names and contact information of people who can help you in our job search.
If you have lost a job and are feeling depressed, or if you are seeking to make a career change, volunteer work can bring you reasons to smile and lighten your spirit. Helping others energizes you to keep moving forward in your own quest. If you are already employed, volunteering can strengthen your position and enhance your value to your organization while you are doing something you enjoy and that benefits others.
To learn more about the personal, physical and emotional benefits of volunteering, read our “Life Happens” blog here.
By Heléne Kass, Career Coach, Career Services, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD
Volunteers are recognized and celebrated during the month of April. For information on volunteer opportunities at Jewish Community Services, visit www.jcsbaltimore.org/volunteer.