According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), volunteering raises your odds of finding employment in today’s job market. In fact, a recent report from CNCS reveals that volunteers have 27% higher odds of finding employment than non-volunteers, and the relationship between employment and volunteering was strongest for those without a high school diploma or who live in rural areas.
Who Is Volunteering
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of Americans age 16 and older engaged in volunteer opportunities in 2014. This equates to 62.8 million volunteers, and the median number of volunteer hours worked was 50. People most likely to volunteer are those between the ages of 35 and 44, while volunteer rates are lowest amongst those 20 to 24 years of age. The report also found that the organizations people volunteered with most were religious (33%), education or youth-service related (25%), and social or community organizations (14%).
What Are the Benefits
While the benefits of volunteering are numerous, there are a few positive effects that stand out, including:
- Acquire new skills. When you volunteer your time, you often have the opportunity to learn new skills or trades you may not have been exposed to otherwise. These new skills are not only great for you personally, they are also important to building an impressive resume.
- Stay engaged in the working world. If you’ve been out of work for a while, the job search can be tough. Volunteering not only allows you a chance to work on a new project that may clear your mind for a bit, it also shows potential employers that you’re driven, motivated, and encouraged to stay working despite gaps between paid jobs.
- Improve your resume and LinkedIn profile. In addition to adding new skills to your resume, volunteering also helps you beef up the experience portion of this important document. Any experience you can add to your resume will help you stand out from the competition. Additionally, people you meet while volunteering can make great connections on LinkedIn.
- Make new contacts. Speaking of LinkedIn, volunteering is a great way to kick-start your LinkedIn profile or enhance an otherwise stagnant one. Volunteering is an opportunity for you to network with those in your industry, or in other industries you may like to work.
- Better understand today’s work environment. If you are an older job seeker or have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time, volunteering is a great way to get back out there. You can learn skills that are important to today’s employers while also working with younger generations to better understand the new workforce.
- Gain self-confidence and lift your spirits. When you volunteer, you experience first-hand the difference you’re making in your community. This feeling can lead to a boost in self-confidence, which may be beneficial if you’re struggling with a particularly stressful job search.
How to Find Volunteer Work
Now that you know how volunteering can make you more employable, it’s important to know where you can find volunteer work. To find your next opportunity, try these methods:
- Use your skills. Look to your current sets of skills to find an opportunity that’s right for you. For example, if you’re a skilled marketing professional, look for volunteer opportunities in this field. Or if you love to paint, you can search for volunteer work painting homes or other buildings.
- Plan for the future. If there’s a job you’d like to have, use volunteering as an opportunity to help you reach that goal. Volunteer at organizations that will help you learn the skills you need for your dream jobs and help you find the people who can get you those jobs.
- Ask your friends. Your friends and family may have volunteer experience you can benefit from, especially if they work in an industry you’re trying to break into. Ask them where they volunteer or who they volunteer with to help you find a new opportunity.
- Search the internet. There are a number of websites that can help you find the perfect volunteer opportunity based on your skills and interests. Check out sites like VolunteerMatch.org and Serve.gov for local opportunities. If you’re age 55 or older, try the Senior Corps website, which is made specifically to help you find volunteer work.
- Start your own. If you can’t find the right volunteer opportunity for you, or if you have an idea of your own, consider creating a volunteer opportunity or cause. You may even be able to partner with an organization that can get your idea up and running.
- Join Express for Brand It Blue Day. On Saturday, June 13, Express offices across North America will set aside time to give back to local food banks, pantries and other nonprofit organizations. Visit ExpressPros.com/BrandItBlueDay to find out if an Express office near you will be a part of this day of service and how you can be involved.
When you look for volunteer work, seek out meaningful jobs that will help you network, learn new skills, and reach your professional goals. And remember to always treat your volunteer job as if you’re being paid. You never know who will be volunteering with you or how they may be able to help you land your next job.
How does giving back make you more employable? Share your stories in the comments section below!
Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.