Volunteering not only offers ways to assist in your local community, it also offers a means to building professional skills and developing your career. Volunteer work can be important in highlighting your abilities and experience on your resume, especially if you are just starting out in your career. No matter your professional history or background, volunteering can be an effective way to show future employers your work ethic, capabilities and dedication.
In this article, you will learn seven reasons volunteering can be important for your career development and where to include your volunteer experience on your resume.
Why is volunteering important?
Volunteer work is typically considered to be an altruistic activity where an individual, group or organization provides services with no goals for social or financial gain.
Often, people may think of volunteering to help a non-profit organization achieve its goals or provide support for people in the local community. While these activities are important, volunteering can also provide substantial benefits to your career development.
7 benefits of volunteering for career growth
Volunteering can have a big impact on your career growth. From showcasing your work ethic on your resume to helping your community, volunteer work has a variety of benefits. Here are some reasons it can be important to volunteer.
- Volunteering can add experience to your resume.
- You can expand your network.
- Volunteering can help you avoid job gaps on your resume.
- You can learn and apply new skills.
- Volunteering can help you increase your job confidence.
- You can showcase your fit for open positions.
- Volunteering can help prepare you for a career or role change.
1. Volunteering can add experience to your resume
Volunteer work gives you valuable experience to add to your resume, especially if you are just beginning your career and are still building a solid work experience. If you are a recent graduate or plan to switch jobs, it can sometimes be difficult to get job experience without being hired for a job role. However, volunteer work can allow you to build your work experience in an industry or position and show potential employers that, despite limited or no professional history, you do have volunteer experience that can be applied.
Read more: Writing a Resume With No Experience
2. You can expand your network
Another beneficial aspect that volunteering is that you may discover opportunities for networking with other people to form new professional relationships, find out about new job vacancies and develop knowledge about various community organizations that can lead to job creation. No matter where you volunteer you can expand your network to include professionals who may one day be able to assist you in your job search.
3. Volunteering can help you avoid job gaps on your resume
Often, when job seekers interview with job gaps in their resumes, employers may be compelled to choose other candidates who have little or no job gaps highlighted in their resumes. Volunteering during career transitions can give you something to list on your resume if you are out of work for a period of time or just beginning to build work experience.
For example, stay-at-home moms might volunteer with a nonprofit organization for family services or in community groups in leadership positions to maintain and develop their skills. Students attending school can volunteer with organizations in their fields of study to gain valuable experience that can enable them to highlight this experience upon graduation and entering their careers.
4. You can learn and apply new skills
Volunteering can also help you learn new skills, especially if you are transitioning between job industries or studying in a certification program. For example, if you were transitioning from working in accounting to working as a professional writer, volunteering to create the email newsletter or blog post for a nonprofit organization could help you develop a portfolio that you can share with future employers and clients.
Before you embark on a total career transition or sign up for a four-year degree program, you can use volunteering to find out what would be like to work in a specific role and the skills you would need to learn to be successful. Volunteering can be an effective means to figure out if you genuinely enjoy working in a certain position before you put in the effort to switch careers.
5. Volunteering can help you increase your job confidence
Volunteering not only provides avenues for learning new skills and giving back to society, but it can also help to increase your confidence level in a professional setting. For example, volunteering in a role that interests you as a career can expose you to the industry and business processes, resulting in developing your skill set. Ultimately, when you apply new skills competently, you can increase the confidence you have when approaching future professional situations such as job interviews, career fairs or networking events.
Read more: How To Appear Confident in an Interview
6. You can showcase your fit for open positions
Volunteering requires individuals to be hardworking, honest and kind to others. These traits can make volunteers an attractive option for employers who may desire committed staff that can integrate into their company’s culture. For example, a potential employer might take an interest in your resume because of your volunteer experience in a library where you may have developed your customer service skills. This can highlight your ability to work with the public professionally and ethically and proving you are dedicated and hardworking.
7. Volunteering can help prepare you for a career or role change
Volunteering is a good way to transition or advance in your career. For example, leadership roles can require prior managerial experience, which may be difficult to obtain within your regular job duties at your company. However, volunteering in a leadership role can help you develop key skills you may need to showcase your capacity to take on a managerial position.
Some other ways to gain leadership experience as a volunteer can include serving on a board of directors, helping recruit and train new volunteers and organizing community events. For instance, you might start an organization in your area for a cause that is important to you, such as keeping your city’s streets clean and free of trash and debris. The processes and responsibilities involved with leadership volunteering can be an overall benefit to providing you with valuable experience in organizing, leading and assessing a team.
Where to showcase volunteer experience on your resume
It can be a challenge to figure out where to put volunteer work on your resume, however, consider the following methods of including volunteer work on your resume to fit your work experience, skill set and education.
List volunteer work in chronological order with other roles
If you are entering your career, have limited job experience or have a noticeable job gap in your work history, listing your volunteer experience along with your work history in chronological order can be an effective way of conveying how you have spent your time. You can list your duties as a volunteer with a focus on transferrable skills you can apply to the role.
For instance, if you are applying for a sales job, you might include details about your responsibilities with sales transactions and customer service if you volunteered at a charity thrift shop. Ultimately, if you gained professional skills and utilized volunteering to develop in your career, you might include your volunteer experience with your work history.
Include volunteering along with your educational or training background
You might also consider including your volunteer experience along with your educational background or any training you completed that is relevant and applicable to the educational program you attended. For example, if your educational background includes studying to be a teacher, you might include your volunteer experience in your local schools. This allows prospective employers to see how you used your independent schedule to devote to improving and further developing your skill set and knowledge.
Format a separate section for your volunteer experience
Sometimes, you might want to consider placing your volunteer experience at the end of your resume in its own section. This can help to separate it from your professional and educational experience while still highlighting its relevance to the position you are applying to. Likewise, when you list your volunteer work as a separate section, it can showcase your motivation to apply your skills and time to selfless activities. Highlighting volunteer experience on your resume by itself can also allow you to show employers clearly and directly how you can fit the role.