Job search need a shot in the arm? Consider volunteering.
Trying to find a position when one has a very precise specification can very difficult. Even while there may be demand for a specific skill, employers frequently look for well-rounded workers whose resumes show that they also have leadership, team management or project management skills. So, what is a job hunter to do when they’ve spent their career, however long that may be, simply honing a singular skill and not growing other sought-after skills? One option you may not have considered could be volunteering. The following are five ways volunteering can help your job search and your career in general.
1. Volunteering Helps Expand Your Comfort Zone
When one thinks of volunteering, the image of handing out bowls at a soup kitchen may immediately come to mind. While that is always an option, different non-profit organizations, schools, or places of worship are also in need of many of the skills you may have. Are you a web developer? You may consider offering to build websites for a non-profit according to their team’s specifications. If you’re familiar with servers, you could assist with building and maintaining an organization’s infrastructure. In these roles, there’s a very good chance you could come into contact with IT technologies with which you’re not completely familiar. Even further out of your wheelhouse, you may offer to step up to the plate for an organization in regards to something that will require you to stretch beyond your comfort zone, such as project management for a larger initiative. Where a for-profit company may not feel comfortable utilizing a less-experienced person in a leadership or project management role, non-profit organizations may not have as many options and appreciate your willingness to help.
2. Volunteering Comes With Many Networking Opportunities
One of the underlooked aspects of volunteering with an organization is the new people you will meet and possibly even work alongside. According to a 2015 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Volunteering in the United States, volunteers tend to have a higher than average education. This means that there’s a very high likelihood that you will be rubbing elbows with some of your community’s elite professionals. These individuals not only have their finger on the pulse of prestigious companies in your community but working along with them in a volunteer capacity may enable you to use them as a professional reference down the road. These may individuals may even hold their experiences with you in higher esteem because it was in a voluntary capacity. No matter whom you meet, it never hurts to expand your Rolodex.
How To Properly Utilize Your Volunteer Experience
Ok, so you’ve been volunteering with an organization for a good while and have developed additional experience as well as new skills in the process. How should you utilize this experience on your resume and throughout your job search?
3. Volunteering Can Help Flesh Out Your Resume
While volunteer experience on a resume will typically have less authority than a professional role, it is still useful in helping flesh out some skills and experience.
“It doesn’t hurt to add volunteer work as long as it’s kept to a minimum,” says Ashley Riedesel, a Senior Technical Recruiter for OakTree Staffing and Training. However, she follows up this advice with a disclaimer that putting volunteer work on a resume requires keeping it in context with the position with which you are applying.”It’s always great to include how they (the applicant) are able to relate the volunteer work they have done, to the positions they are applying for.” Like salt in cooking, volunteer experience should be used sparingly and only to draw out the other flavors of the other experiences on your resume.
4. Volunteer Experience Adds Confidence To Your Job Interviews Experiences
As you genuinely gain more experience in areas you didn’t previously have, thanks to your volunteer role, your comfort level will grow. One unique advantage of this growth in skills and experience is the fluency with which you can discuss such skills in an interview. When your next job interview comes around, you will be able to speak on this topic from a place of experience and authority instead of grasping at straws. You will be able to share instances of how you tackled a difficult situation that was, perhaps, before outside of your comfort zone. This will show your willingness to grow into a role and learn.
5. Volunteering Can Substantiate Character and
One of the added bonuses of a volunteer role, beyond the experiences and networking, is helping to flesh-out what kind of person you are in a way that can be substantiated. Your willingness to give back to your community bodes well for you when looking for a new position. Volunteer experience, when uses tactfully, helps to express that you are a well-rounded individual with a heart a great head on your shoulders. While you can be lauded for your volunteer efforts, it can be tempting to over-emphasize your good works in a way that become counterproductive. Throughout all of this, remember that it’s always best to let other’s toot your horn for you.
For additional help with your job search, feel free to reach out to the experienced IT staffing agency professionals from OakTree Staffing & Training.