Volunteer service is often considered the “right” thing to do and while you may volunteer because you believe in supporting your community, furthering the cause and contributing in a meaningful way, do not discount the opportunity that volunteer service offers you to be a more marketable paid employee in the future. After all, if you do that great of work for free, imagine what you’d be capable of when someone is paying you!
Here are the most important things to remember:
#1 Develop new skills that are transferrable to a variety of industries
These are common skills that are used in volunteer opportunities. Whether you are helping to organize an event or fundraiser, coordinating other volunteers to complete a task, or leading a group of your peers to work on a project.
- Interpersonal skills
#2 Volunteering can expand your network
You can choose to volunteer within your career field. Many times when people think of volunteering they think of heading down to the local food bank or homeless shelter. While those are great places to serve the community there are more opportunities to volunteer that you may not be thinking of!
Look into local associations in your career field to see if there are volunteer opportunities for you to serve. If you are in the legal field you could look into Pro Bono work with a law firm, a graphic designer might be able to provide a non-profit with art work, grant writers could provide free serivces to non-profits, etc.
By choosing to volunteer within your career field you have the opportunity to network with people who are working in the career field and are aware of jobs that are available.
#3 Explore a New Career
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to explore a new career and learn about different roles within the industry. You can really learn about different careers/roles without hopping from job to job. You will be able to decide if the career field is what you really want. You get to experience a new career or role without the hassle of job searching, interviewing, and starting a job with a company only to quickly find out it’s not a match for you.
Many volunteer opportunities provide extensive training to support the role of the volunteer in the organization.
#4 Job Candidate that Volunteer Stand Out
Today many companies have a strong social responsibility built into their work culture. A job candidate that has experience volunteering shows strong work ethic and dedication that companies are looking for.
Volunteering also shows companies that you are willing to try something new and do more than what is required of you.
#5 Answer the Question: What have you been doing with your time off?
Volunteering is a great way to fill in your resume gaps during the time that you have taken off. While raising a family you have also been able to add value to your community. And in a job interview when you are asked the inevitable question, “what have you been doing during your break?” You can have a great response detailing how you have volunteered and used your skills to make the world a better place.
Volunteering is professional experience and is a valid entry on your resume. Now is the time to be proactive and gaining experience that you can use once you are ready to go back into the workforce.