How volunteering can help you get a job

Volunteering doesn't just help your favorite charity—it's also a great way to build skills and maybe even find your next job.

How volunteering can help you get a job

There are a lot of obvious benefits to volunteering for your favorite charity—a sense of accomplishment, giving back to others, gaining perspective, and meeting new people. You can also find business benefits and ways your efforts can help your career. Simply put: Volunteering can help you get a job.

According to the most recent federal study by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, the volunteer rate was 30.3% (77.3 million) in 2017, up from 24.9% (62.6 million) in 2016. Americans most frequently gave their time to: religious groups (32%), sports or arts groups (25.7%), and education or youth service groups (20%).

Volunteering is also a gateway to jobs. The study found that 

  • volunteers have a 27% higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.
  • volunteers without a high school diploma have a 51% higher likelihood of finding employment.
  • volunteers living in rural areas have a 55% higher likelihood of finding employment.

These are some of the other benefits volunteering provides.

Develop new skills

Volunteering can be a positive way to get training in areas your current or past jobs didn't provide. If you need some additional experience for a particular job or promotion, there are many options. For example:

  • Project management: organizing events or fundraising efforts
  • Sales skills: contacting people for donations or recruiting volunteers
  • Managing a team: many projects require a group effort, and a leader to coordinate it

Meet new networking contacts

You never know who you'll meet doing charity work. Volunteers engage in their communities at higher rates than non-volunteers, according to the CNCS study. They more frequently talk to neighbors, participate in civic organizations, fix things in the community, attend public meetings, discuss local issues with family and friends, do favors for neighbors, and vote in local elections.

If you choose a volunteer role related to your target job, you might run into people with similar interests or that have jobs similar to the one you want. 

Impress employers with your ambition

Many companies have a strong social responsibility core, and showing your charitable side displays a good cultural fit. Candidates who volunteer stand out in a positive way because their passion and involvement with community is evident. Volunteering can add depth to your resume and help get you noticed. 

Fill in employment gaps, add experience

Volunteer experience is also professional experience. On your resume, list the organization and dates of your service, and instead of using the title "volunteer," use your responsibilities as a title—"project coordinator" or "instructor." Mention your accomplishments, results, or awards like any other job, without being misleading.

Using your time to gain new skills and help your community—either while looking for employment or while working—highlights your willingness to jump in, learn new things, and do more.

Get that extra spring in your step

Giving back can be an energizing boost to your self-worth and confidence. Volunteers are the backbone of any nonprofit. By helping others, you'll get that fulfilling "I made the world a little better" feeling in return.

"Without our 14,000 volunteers putting in 45,000 hours of service each year, we could only serve a tiny fraction of the 1.2 million meals we serve a year," says Andy Bales, CEO of Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. "There are opportunities to mentor, tutor, plan events and activities, work in the back office, and multiple other options. Volunteers really do impact peoples' lives."

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