8 Reasons Why Volunteering Is Good for You (and Your Career)

Whether you are in-between jobs or looking to change your line of work, volunteering can be a good proposition to keep yourself engaged and busy. If you are considering entering the non-profit sector, what better way to break in than volunteering? (Especially if you didn’t get the interview call, in spite of your resume updates.)

habitat for humanity

(Photo Credit: A&M-Commerce/Flickr)

Still not convinced why it pays to work for free? Well, here are some reasons.

1. When you’re out of a job or are not making money, it makes sense to keep yourself engaged and active in some form of work. You’ll be happier and it might help you in your job search.

2. Volunteering for an organization in the field you are interested in can help build and hone your skill-sets.

3. You increase the odds of finding employment when you volunteer. The Corporation for National and Community Service, a government agency, conducted a study tracking 70,535 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those who volunteered had a 27 percent better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t.

4. The message that pay is not your biggest motivator comes out loud and clear to your future employer when perusing your resume. It also helps your future employer understand that you’ve tried to keep yourself motivated and involved in the work environment.

5. When you volunteer and give it your best, you can see yourself making an impact, and that increases your self-worth. As Nancy Collamer writes for Next Avenue, “keeping a positive mindset is arguably the single most critical element of success for finding work.” Volunteering helps job-seekers feel valued.

6. It helps you expand your network, and maybe even land a job. It’s not uncommon for volunteers to be offered paid jobs when a position opens up in a non-profit organization. They have already seen you work and know your commitment, so you do tend to increase your chances for landing a job. In addition, they may know someone who knows someone looking to fill a position.

7. It helps your health and well-being. The feeling that comes after helping someone or some worthy cause in need has a strong impact on the psyche of the volunteer. As Dr. Christine Carter, sociologist and happiness expert, writes in Psychology Today, “People 55 and older who volunteer for two or more organizations have an impressive 44 percent lower likelihood of dying — and that’s after sifting out every other contributing factor, including physical health, exercise, gender, habits like smoking, marital status, and many more.”

8. Kindness, with clearly set goals, can make you happy, and I’m not just saying that — it’s backed by scientific research. According to the research done by Dr. Melanie Rudd, Jennifer Aaker, and Michael Norton and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, setting concrete goals can increase the “helper’s high.” As they share in Scientific American:

“…even if people decide to perform an act of kindness, the way they approach the act can dramatically affect the helper’s high they experience. Specifically, when striving to help others, it may be much better for you to frame your goals in concrete terms than abstract ones, as this could increase your helper’s high. It’s an important insight because the bigger helper’s high not only makes you happier in that moment, but it more strongly motivates you to give again in the future — spurring a cycle of doing good deeds for others and personal happiness.”

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever volunteered? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.