12 Reasons To Consider Volunteering (With Resume Tips)
Updated October 12, 2022
Published December 12, 2019
Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.
Volunteering offers opportunities to assist in your local community, develop professional skills and advance your career. Volunteer work is important as it allows you to highlight your abilities and experiences on your resume, especially in the beginning stages of your career. Understanding how volunteering can effectively show future employers your work ethic and dedication may improve your job search.
In this article, we discuss 12 reasons to consider volunteering to enhance your professional and personal life, including explaining the importance of it and reviewing where you can showcase your experience on a resume.
Why is volunteering important?
Generally, volunteer work is an altruistic activity in which an individual, group or organization provides services with no goals for financial gain. Often, individuals may consider volunteering to help a nonprofit organization achieve its goals or support others in the local community. While these activities are important, volunteering can also provide substantial benefits to your career development, such as adding to your work experience and improving your skills.
12 reasons to consider volunteering
Here are some reasons to consider volunteering:
1. Add experience to your resume
Volunteer work gives you valuable experience to add to your resume. This is especially true if you're still developing work experience. Additionally, it can show potential employers that, despite limited or no professional history, you have volunteer experience that you can apply to the role.
2. Expand your network
Another beneficial aspect of volunteering is you may discover opportunities for networking with other individuals to form new professional relationships. You can also learn 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. Fill in gaps on your resume
Often, when job seekers interview with job gaps in their resumes, employers may choose other candidates who have little or no job gaps in their resumes. Volunteering during career transitions can give you something to list on your resume if you're unemployed for a certain amount of time or building your professional experience.
For example, stay-at-home parents 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 study fields to gain valuable experience they can highlight on their resumes upon graduation.
4. Learn and apply new skills
Volunteering can also help you learn new skills, especially if transitioning between job industries or studying in a certification program. For example, if you're transitioning from working in accounting to working as a professional writer, volunteering to create an email newsletter or blog post for a nonprofit organization may help you develop a portfolio you can share with future employers and clients.
Before you embark on a career transition or sign up for a four-year degree program, you can use volunteering to find out what it might be like to work in a specific role and learn skills to succeed. Volunteering can effectively determine whether you enjoy working in a certain position before you aim to switch careers.
5. Increase your confidence
Volunteering provides opportunities for learning new skills, helping society and increasing 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. Applying new skills competently can increase your confidence when approaching future professional situations, such as job interviews, career fairs or networking events.
6. 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 desire committed staff that can integrate into their company's culture. For example, a potential employer might prefer 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 while proving you're hardworking.
7. Prepare yourself for a career or role change
Volunteering is a beneficial 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. Volunteering in a leadership role can help you develop key skills you may require to showcase your capacity to take on a managerial position.
Some other ways to gain leadership experience as a volunteer 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 meaningful cause, such as keeping your city's streets clean and free of 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.
8. Help manage your mental health
Volunteering can help you manage your mental health by reducing your stress and improving your health. It can help minimize your stress levels because you can focus on helping others and completing tasks, which can interrupt your mind and body's tension. Volunteering can also improve your health because it may encourage your overall optimism and happiness. After all, you're using your skills and time to benefit others. An improved mood may strengthen your immune system, increasing your health.
9. Improve as an individual
You can improve as an individual when you use your time to volunteer. This can happen because you're meeting diverse individuals and communities, allowing you to expand your perspectives. During your volunteer hours, you can collaborate with individuals to work on a common goal, exposing you to new thought processes and strategies for completing tasks.
10. Experience travel opportunities
It may depend on the volunteer opportunities you pursue, but you may have a chance to travel. If you're seeking to travel and help others, you can research organizations online that allow you to travel to different states or countries to work on projects or serve others. Additionally, you can learn how to travel ethically and sustainably. An ethical and sustainable way to travel can include learning how to understand and speak the local language and reviewing how to respect the local region.
11. Make an impact
As a volunteer, you can positively impact communities and individuals. You can learn how to improve the quality of living for others, such as by helping build homes or providing meals and clothes. Additionally, you can help your local community by improving education, such as by tutoring students.
12. Learn about other communities
You can learn about other communities when you're serving as a volunteer, such as learning about the individuals, languages and cultures. When volunteering in communities, you can find and use communal resources to help you solve challenges in your work. Additionally, you can learn about the community's local government and how nonprofits operate there, which can also be a resource you can leverage in your work.
How to showcase volunteer experience on your resume
Consider the following methods of including volunteer work on your resume to fit your work experience, skill set and education:
List volunteer work chronologically
If you're entering your career, have limited job experience or have a noticeable gap in your work history, listing your volunteer experience with your work history in chronological order can convey how you have spent your time. List your duties as a volunteer with a focus on transferrable skills you can apply to the role.
For instance, if you're applying for a sales job, you might include details about your responsibilities with sales transactions and customer service skills if you volunteered at a charity thrift shop. If you gained professional skills and used volunteering to develop your career, you might include your volunteer experience with your work history.
Include volunteering with your educational or training background
You might also consider including your volunteer experience along with your educational or training you completed background that applies 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 improve and further develop your skill set and knowledge.
Format a separate section for your volunteer experience
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 highlighting its relevance to the position you're applying to earn. Likewise, when you list your volunteer work as a separate section, it can showcase your motivation to apply your skills to these activities. Highlighting volunteer experience on your resume by itself can also allow you to show employers how you can fit the role clearly and directly.
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