Volunteering & Finding a Good Job: The Perfect Combination

Many people believe that volunteering is a waste of time because there is no financial compensation. This belief is far from the truth. You may wonder how working for free could lead to anything except being poor with no spare time. In fact, volunteering might be a key to finding a good job. This is how:

Skills: Volunteering can help people to grow and build skills. When volunteering, it is essential to communicate with people from all different backgrounds.This builds communication skills that can be truly beneficial in the job market. Also, when volunteering, it is necessary to think creatively solve problems. This builds the kind of critical thinking skills employers look for. Most volunteering includes working in groups, which builds teamwork. It may even help develop leadership skills if the volunteer leads the group. Communication, critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership are some of the career competencies that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) have identified as being important to employers. Volunteering can help people to develop these competencies and therefore become more employable.

Experience: We all know it’s hard to get experience without a job, and it’s hard to get a job without experience. Volunteering can resolve this dilemma because it provides a way to get experience without a job. Volunteer experience can go on a resume. Volunteering in a field related to the desired career or using the skills needed for the desired career is a great way to build experience. For example, if a student in an accounting major, volunteering to do taxes for senior citizens builds credible experience. If a student is an engineering major, volunteering to design and build a wheelchair accessible ramp for a facility builds credible experience. This type of experience could give a person over someone without any experience at all.

Connections: We have heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”  In many ways, that’s true in the job market. That’s where networking comes in.  Through volunteering, people get to know people outside of their regular circle, and especially when volunteering in the desired field, this can be especially important when looking for a job. Many jobs are found by personal connections rather than job postings. The volunteer can also build up a collection of solid references through the volunteer experience. Some organizations even prefer to hire volunteers when there is an opening because they have already built a connection with that volunteer, so volunteering could even lead directly to a job.

Reputation: Volunteering says a lot about a person’s character. When I person chooses to volunteer, it shows they care about an issue enough to dedicate time to it. This is the definition of social responsibility, which is another a characteristic that employers seek when they hire. When someone volunteers, it shows that the person is willing to take initiative, another desirable characteristic. Essentially, volunteering reflects positively on the person’s character, values, and overall reputation. When volunteering is part of the experience on the resume, that individual will stand out against other candidates who may not have a volunteer experience on their resume.

Although volunteering may not be financially rewarding, it is certainly an opportunity that can be beneficial when looking and applying for a job.  Volunteering builds skills, experience, connections, and a reputation unlike any other type of experience that could be on a resume.  Volunteering could be the deciding factor that determines who will get the job.

How to Get Involved: While on campus, be sure to follow the Embry-Riddle Volunteer Network on Instagram to learn about volunteer opportunities. When off campus, Volunteer Match can find volunteer opportunities anywhere in the United States. The United Way can find volunteer opportunities anywhere in the world. There are many ways to get involved. Just Google volunteer opportunities near me.