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What Employers ‘Really’ Think About Volunteer Experience

Career Building, Volunteering, Business Experience...

Into every professional life, a few employment gaps may fall.  This may be due to lack of availability of suitable positions in your region, or lifestyle and caretaking needs, including a leave of absence for child or family care.  You may have been asked to leave a previous position, or have voluntarily moved on from a role that didn’t suit your needs.

Whatever the situation, we all find ourselves in the same position from time to time.  Very employable and willing to be employed, but looking for the right opportunity.  And sometimes, it can be a very stressful period for a professional, emotionally and financially.  Did you know that volunteering can be a valuable way to expand your skillset and improve your business networking and referral opportunities?

The Benefits of Volunteering

Sending out resumes and speaking to recruitment professionals is the first step to launching your career search.  In the interim, while waiting for invitations to interview, a volunteer position can help you gain more exposure through business networking.

Referrals are a meaningful way to learn about unadvertised job opportunities.  Many progressive organizations work exclusively through recruitment agencies, and some of the most coveted positions are never advertised in the classic sense. By connecting with others in your community, you can develop your referral network and learn about these opportunities.  Consequently, without your knowledge, these positive business relationships can result in personal recommendations that can lead to exceptional new career opportunities.

Finding a Career Boost in a Volunteer Environment

Choosing the right environment to volunteer in is an important step to realizing not just the social satisfaction of contributing to your community, but also career and job search benefits.   Think strategically both in terms of what you would like to do on a weekly or monthly basis that is enjoyable, and the skills that can be developed through your volunteer opportunity.

If choosing non-profit organization, find a role that fits within your career objectives.  If you are a digital marketing professional, offer those skills to your volunteer organization.  Fundraising and non-profit events are an excellent opportunity to strengthen project management abilities, and within that capacity, your performance may be referred to prospective employers.  Stick within your niche career offering, and you will be able to easily add your volunteer experience in a relevant way, to your resume or C.V.

How Do Employers Interpret Volunteer Activity?

Managing your time between career opportunities by looking for a way to contribute to your community is an altruistic habit that reflects well.  Employers value examples of motivation and innovative thinking, and the personal integrity that is shown by your willingness to sacrifice personal time for others makes a strong, quality impression with employers looking to hire.

When you volunteer within your niche profession, it tells employers that you are committed (regardless of circumstance) to improving your skills constantly.  That level of commitment to your profession is something that will sell not only your growing experience through volunteer programs, but also your personal commitment to exceling within your career.

Ready to get started?  There are a number of online search websites that connect professionals to volunteer opportunities around the world.   Here are a few sites our recruiters recommend to get your search started:

After you have commenced volunteering for a period of time, ask some of the volunteer coordinators to provide a referral of your work on LinkedIn.  It will improve your professional profile, as well as provide an easy way for recruiters and prospective employers to review your activity, when considering you for a career opportunity.