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1. Gain experience. Volunteer work can help candidates gain valuable work experience in their field of interest, or a complementary industry. What’s so great about volunteer work is that you can choose where you donate your time – so, if you’re considering a career change, then volunteering is a great way to test the waters of the new industry before leaving your current job.
2. Build your resume. LinkedIn’s recent research indicates that “one out of every five hiring managers in the U.S. agree they have hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience.” Employers aren’t just looking for professionals who have a good education and ample work experience, but they’re also seeking out potential employees who are good people. Volunteer experience helps employers get an idea of the well-rounded and generous person that you are, which is something that typically isn’t obvious from a first glance at a candidate’s resume. Additionally, non-profits in all industries are always looking for help with more skilled or technical positions (i.e. IT, marketing, and graphics), so consider volunteering and lending your expertise to a cause that you’re passionate about.
3. Expand your network. A great way to make new connections in your field of work is through volunteer work. According to a post by Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert, “volunteer relationships are particularly beneficial since many of the folks you interact with while volunteering are usually driven, conscientious professionals who can be a great referral.” As a volunteer, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded professionals who, like you, have a desire to give back to others, which is a personality trait that is highly desirable in a person and a friend. Volunteering can help you build your professional and personal social networks simultaneously.
4. Fill employment gaps. Unemployment doesn’t have to be a bottleneck in your career; you can do something about it. Volunteering your free time while looking for a job is a great way to show that you’re being responsible and proactive during your time of joblessness. When recruiters see that your time was well spent, they’re more likely to forgive the employment gap on your resume than if you did nothing during that time. Find a volunteer position with an organization in your field of work, or a position where you can utilize your skill sets, so that you stay relevant in your career. Volunteering is also a great way to get your foot in the door, should a full-time position open up within the company.
5. Makes you healthier and happier. According to HelpGuide.org, “volunteering is good for your body and mind” because it “increases self-confidence,” “combats depression,” and “helps you stay physically healthy.” When you’re committing your time to giving to others or contributing to a cause, your outlook in life tends to be brighter and more positive, research shows. Volunteer work can be a humbling experience, especially when you’re helping people who are less fortunate than you. The everyday stresses that result from job hunting, working, or trying to make ends meet can be offset by the positive feelings that being altruistic provides.
Volunteer work is a great way to do something good for others, while also doing some good for your career and your well-being. The next time life hands you lemons, why not get out there and donate your time to a good cause?
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