Doing good without expecting anything in return is pretty darn awesome! In fact I am privileged enough to meet tons of individuals like this in my line of work (shoutout AmeriCorps peeps)! However doing good can also be a huge benefit to your career-related goals & general well-being whether or you know it or not.
If you’re hoping for a career change but having trouble getting started, you may want to consider volunteering as an entry point to help shake things up. I’ve come up with 10 reasons why volunteering can be good for your career move (including a few game-changers you probably didn’t know about).
1. Volunteering Fills Resume Gaps
The last thing you ever want on your resume, is a period of time where you were doing nothing (otherwise known as a resume gap). Volunteer work is a great way to fill any unexpected or expected resume gaps. If you’re about to be laid off or have been out of the work force for a while, a volunteer position creates recent experience which is exactly what a hiring manager looks for when they scan your resume for red flags. This can also work to create a near seamless transition.
2. Volunteering Provides Networking Opportunities
There’s no better way to meet people and grow your network, than working alongside people who are passionate about giving back. While you may not be rubbing elbows with the CEO, from your volunteer work, it’s important to be aware that co-workers, staff members and fellow-volunteers all form a web of connections that may just turn into your next great reference or introduction to a hiring manager.
3. Volunteering Allows for Skills Development
Spending your time helping others within an organization is a great opportunity to build and develop valuable skills (old and new). Use a volunteer opportunity as a chance to take on projects and initiatives where you can try your hand at a new technology or soft skills, and really work on professional development. Even if you fail or fall short, consider this a learning experience and identify areas for improvement the next time around. Try and target skills that you need to beef up for your next career move and be sure to include on your resume.
4. Volunteering Increases Confidence
As your skills get a little practice and attention, expect your confidence levels to increase. You’ll boost your confidence around new skills as well as self-esteem, satisfaction and added sense of purpose. This confidence will naturally start to reduce any doubt you may have carried as a result of a dead-end job search or lay-off. Nothing speaks like confidence when you walk into an interview so consider this benefit a major pay-off for future employer conversations as well.[wpcb id=”1″ text=”Click Here for a Free downloadable PDF of this post.” style=”black_flat”]
5. Volunteering Provides On-the-Job Practice
If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, volunteering can be a good test-run for easing into the “real world” or corporate environment. It can also provide a realistic glimpse into the nuances and expectations within the world of non-profit (if this is a career move you’re exploring). Use your volunteer work as a way to shake off any rust that might be bogging you down and start out fresh.
6. Volunteering is a Great way to Learn About You
Cultural fit plays a huge part in determining whether or not a candidate will work out from the hiring manager perspective. Volunteering at different types of organizations, with different missions, can help you identify where you thrive so you can ultimately gain clarity around the type of company to target in future moves. If you’ve had a bad experience within large organizations, target a small non-profit in which to volunteer, being cognizant around the differences as they relate to you. All organizations are not created equal so really use your volunteer time as a comparison in order to feel out your ideal next situation and best cultural fit.
7. Volunteering Can Enhance Your Teamwork Street Cred
Volunteering usually requires collaboration with the people you serve or the staff members you work alongside. Therefore use this as an opportunity to enhance your teamworking skills, identifying wins to boast in your next interview. Hiring managers love team players and these types of stories will really help you sell you!
8. Volunteering is a Passive Networking & Relationship Building Strategy
Yes volunteering is about work but it can also be about fun. Even if employed, volunteering can be an ideal way to unwind with other like-minded individuals and socialize in a more purpose-oriented setting. There’s no better happy hour than doing good with others and developing relationships around selfless giving. You’ll also be incorporating a passive networking strategy which may serve you well in the future.
9. Volunteering Makes a Difference
The film quote from It’s a Wonderful Life put it best when it said, “The only thing you can take with you is that which you leave behind.” Life is short and there’s a lot of good to be done in this world (heck, even down the street from your home)! If everyone thought less about themselves and put others first, imagine what a place this would be. There’s no time like the present to roll up your sleeves and help your fellow human.
10. Volunteering Increases Your Happiness
As if making a difference isn’t enough reason to volunteer, increased happiness is also an added benefit to expect. According to a study in Social Science and Medicine, “compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people who volunteer every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000.”
So the next time you are feeling down on your career and thinking of ways to start making a change, look to volunteerism. It’s a winning career and life strategy that will have you and those you serve receiving some major benefits for years to come!