Work experience is critical to moving forward in your career. But did you know that you can also gain many valuable job skills through volunteering? As an agent for social change, volunteering allows you to impact communities while also accelerating your career. Strategic volunteering enables you to learn more about what activities and fields you enjoy, identify your strengths, build connections, and gain important skills and experiences.
According to a report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, candidates with volunteer experience have a 27% better chance of finding employment than non-volunteer counterparts.1 Furthermore, in a Deloitte survey of human resources executives, 81% felt skilled volunteering should be considered in a hiring decision and 76% felt volunteering made a candidate more desirable—with the desirability factor even higher for volunteer experience among college graduates.2
What makes volunteering strategic? Denise Pranke, a senior career advisor at Walden University, says strategic volunteering empowers job candidates “to develop stories of accomplishments and achievements that you can share.” She recommends that volunteers promote their relevant experiences through résumés, CVs, cover letters, portfolios, LinkedIn profiles, and interviews, all of which help candidates exhibit their qualifications.3
Some skills you might gain during strategic volunteering include:3
These skills aren’t just worthwhile for volunteering: They prepare you to excel in your career. Leadership, public speaking, presentation, project management, technology, and communications skills help you become a better employee in any profession. The skills, experience, and education gained impress socially conscious companies long after your volunteer period.
Volunteering also allows you to experience many aspects or parts of an organization with which you wouldn’t necessarily interact. Perhaps you’ll learn that you have a proficiency for accounting when volunteering for a food bank, or global health while volunteering for a free health clinic. Maybe you’ll discover you’re especially adept at grassroots messaging or social media while volunteering for a community arts program. These are just some examples of social change that could impact both you and the lives of those you serve for the better.
When you’re already working, volunteering can also advance your career. It can help you reinforce skills you’re already learning at work, develop new skills and possibilities, and give you another venue to build leadership skills. All of these opportunities make you a more qualified and desirable candidate for your next job.
In addition to introducing new skills, strategic volunteering can provide you with valuable networking prospects. With so many socially conscious individuals working toward greater goals, volunteering provides ample opportunities to connect with like-minded people.
With a warm attitude and engaging interaction with your volunteer network, you never know when the connections you cultivate might lead to future career or growth opportunities. Perhaps it could lead to connecting with a social entrepreneur on a future project. Maybe you’ll interview for and gain employment in your ideal role at a company with strong corporate social responsibility principles. Your volunteer network might also lead to other activities as well, like the opportunity to give presentations or speak on a panel.
Volunteerism unites people from differing industries and backgrounds for a common goal. This creates a unique network for volunteers, and one completely unlike those they might develop in their job fields. Not only does volunteering provide uncommon connections, it may also initiate rare opportunities. Make it a priority to meet lots of people while volunteering—you never know who might be plugged in to greater prospects. All networking is useful.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs online in business, communication, social work, nursing, education, psychology, criminal justice, and more. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.