USA - CIRCA 1983 VoluntarismIf you are in the midst of a job hunt, volunteering for a good cause is probably the furthest thing from your mind.  The only good cause you are worried about is your cause – getting a new job.

However, volunteering is more than helping others in need; it can be used to improve your resume, by highlighting your commitment, helping you transition into a new career, and helping you bridge gaps in your resume. Since your resume is your entry point to a new career, you need to take every opportunity to improve it.

Highlight commitment

Whether you’re just starting out, planning a career change, or need to get a couple of additional years of work in before you retire, holding a relevant volunteer position is sure to impress employers.  Volunteering highlights a commitment to your craft and highlights several intangible characteristics that are highly valuable to employers – commitment, empathy and the ability to mobilize and motivate others.

But first, before we continue, let’s talk about the meaning of a “relevant volunteer position”.  This term means more than coaching a community sports team or helping out in a local soup kitchen.  These are definitely well-meaning ways to volunteer, but to add value – real value – to your resume, consider helping these same types of organization by offering to do what you have been trained to do.  This might be customer service, marketing, fundraising, recruiting, bookkeeping or computer hardware maintenance.   

Transition to a new career

However, if you are thinking of changing jobs / industries / careers, volunteering for a “relevant” position is a great way to explore new options.  Find non-profits that align with industries you are considering, and try to find roles within those non-profits that align with what you think you might want to do.  Spending time helping out can provide insight into any inherent synergies or needed training.

You may find that it is right up your alley, or, you could discover that it is not exactly what you thought it would be.  If it is something you are interested in, your volunteer experience could give you that always-valuable “foot in the door” and is something you can include on your resume that supports your new-found abilities.

Fills in Gaps

If you are between jobs, volunteering is an ideal way to fill gaps on your resume. Try to find a volunteer position that aligns with the type of job you are looking for. This will show your commitment and help keep you up-to-date in your chose field. It shows hiring managers that you were doing something productive and are committed to enhancing your skills.  It may not be the slam dunk you crave, but it does support your chances of landing a job.

So if you do not have a volunteer position that is related to your skill sets and/or your ideal job, it is time to start looking for one.  When you are ready to begin your job search in earning, remember the direct hire experts at Snelling.

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