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6 Reasons to Seek Out Volunteer Opportunities

The benefits associated with volunteering are more than meets the eye. Obviously, you get a chance to give back to the community, and with that comes a sense of accomplishment. Making a difference in the lives of others is rewarding and life-changing.

Many don’t realize that volunteer work can also positively impact your career. While the ultimate reason for volunteering should be a desire to give back, it doesn’t mean your efforts can’t make a difference in your life as well. 

The following are some of the many ways volunteering can be the career booster you need to land your next job:

1. Strengthen your skill set.

Every city has a number of nonprofits, and their services run the gamut from ending homelessness to childhood literacy. You should easily be able to find an organization that matches your values and interests.

Besides, most nonprofits are short-staffed, giving you the opportunity to take on a myriad of tasks to expand your skills. Organizing a fundraiser, for example, can teach you project management, while contacting potential donors can enhance your communication skills.

If fact, 92 percent of people who influence hiring decisions believe volunteering improves an employee’s leadership skills and broader professional skill set. Another 80 percent say that active volunteers move more easily into leadership roles.

2. Make network connections.

Volunteering often exposes you to people you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to meet. And with anywhere from 60 percent to 80 percent of jobs being found through personal relationships. One these contacts might lead to a job.

3. Remove resume gaps.

When a potential employer sees a gap in your resume, one of the first thoughts that come to mind is, “What were you doing during that time?” By volunteering, you can bridge that gap and actually increase your chances of finding a new job. People with volunteer experience are 27 percent more likely to find a job after being out of work.

4. Give you the competitive edge.

Only 45 percent of professionals include volunteer work on their resumes, though nearly 90 percent have donated time to a cause. If you volunteer, and highlight the experience on your resume, you differentiate yourself from others — with the added bonus of emphasizing your commitment to the community.

5. Uncover new interests.

One of the more attractive facets of volunteering is the chance to explore different interests and careers. You get to try various jobs on for size, meet people in different industries, and experience the challenges and rewards of the work.

Let’s say the responsibilities that come with the volunteer opportunity spark your interest. You could always parlay those responsibilities into a career in an entirely different industry then your background or education.

6. Illustrate your personal values.

Your resume can only tell potential employers so much about you. And with companies placing more emphasis on corporate social responsibility, your volunteer work can help illustrate how your values match those of the organization. Nowadays, employers want a cultural fit just as much as a skills fit.

If you’re ready to start volunteering and improve your job prospects, here are a few resources to help you out:

Each of these sites allows you to search by location and by type of volunteer opportunity. So, why not give volunteering at try? You never know what it might lead to in the future.