A 2013 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that unemployed people who volunteered 20 hours or more over a 12-month period were, on average, 6.8% more likely to be employed at the end of that year, compared to individuals who did not volunteer.
On your executive resume, it is especially beneficial to highlight how you volunteer in your community, as this shows potential employers more about your personal values and interests. Increasingly, organizations are now looking beyond your skill set to also assess your cultural fit to the company.
Your work experience validates your job fit, but it is your volunteering and community involvement that gives insight into whether you’re a match for a company’s culture and corporate citizenship practices.
You should stay equally active in your industry associations and networking groups, as this demonstrates that you are highly regarded by your peers.
How volunteering helps you change careers
If you are also looking at re-careering, volunteering gives you the opportunity to highlight different skills than you have used in you career so far. You can emphasize your achievements working on boards, events or other special projects, in industries or sectors where you otherwise don’t have paid experience.
Featuring these volunteer examples in your resume allows you to include keywords that a potential employer or recruiter in your new career may be looking for, thereby boosting your chances at being recognized by the automated tracking system (ATS) software.
The same applies to your LinkedIn profile (which should ideally mirror your resume), aiming to have the right key buzzwords pop up when executive recruiters and other hiring decision makers are searching for talent in LinkedIn.
Make new connections to expand your network and secure references
Many people are uncomfortable networking, and although it is still necessary to overcome these objections, volunteering is an additional way to build your network of influence and give back at the same time.
This may lead to some valuable connections, including those who may be willing to provide a reference or recommendation in your desired field. As you’re working together towards a common goal, volunteering can offer many opportunities to casually discuss what you do and where you’re looking to go in your career.
This camaraderie and interaction can keep your spirits up after you’ve been downsized, and helps you to retain a focused vision on your career goals.
If you’re unemployed, any gaps between positions on your resume will definitely attract attention, and could potentially be the difference between getting called for an interview or rejected sight unseen. Volunteering fills the void.
Volunteering as an entry point
If you have made your list of target companies you’d like to work for, volunteering at one of those companies could be a great way to learn when a job opening becomes available. Check company websites, career pages, and social media profiles for volunteer positions.
As you can see, volunteering can help you change careers, make new connections, expand your references, bolster your confidence during career transition, and find a way in to a desired company. Where will you volunteer next?