February 2, 2018
Volunteering is an excellent way to learn new skills, explore your passions, and stand out in the application process. With the help of our contributors, we’ve made a list of how to get the most out of your volunteer experience to help you land your dream job!
Find the Right Opportunity
To find the volunteer opportunity that’s right for you, first think about your interests and what you feel naturally called to do. Charlene, Hiring Expert at Gap, suggests that you “find something you are passionate about and enjoy doing… then find organizations that support your passion.”1 Whether it be helping children learn to read or cleaning up your city, think about what resonates most with you.
Once you know the cause you want to support, research and contact organizations that are related to your interest. “Contacting you local United Way organization is a great place to start,” suggests Rachel from Eaton. “You can go online to find your local United Way as well as look at volunteer opportunities available. Their database will include the organization that is requesting help, the type of volunteers needed, and the contact information of the coordinator.”2 You can also contact the Office of Community Engagement at your school or search on Google for nonprofits in your area to get connected with the volunteer opportunity that speaks the most to your passions.
Volunteering is not only a wonderful contribution to your community, but it is also an excellent way to make connections within your field of interest. Marisella, Hiring Expert from American Express, says, “Research companies you desire to work at and see which volunteer organizations they support. For example, if a company attends yearly events or partners with community groups that seek volunteers.”3 Volunteering for the same organization as the companies where you want to work can be a very wise move. It enables the possibility of making valuable connections or can help you stand out in an interview due to your shared experience.
If you are not quite sure yet which companies you are wanting to work for, volunteering can be a great way to discover career opportunities. Talk with your fellow volunteers and the nonprofit’s employees to learn more about their roles. Your shared interest in the cause may lead into shared career interests as well. Through the conversation you may discover a company or opportunity that would be a great fit for you. Plus, by growing your network, your new connections may put in a good word for you or let you know about an open position down the line!
Make Your Resume Shine
Stand out in the application process and round out your accomplishments by including volunteer experience on your resume. Taylor, Hiring Expert at ADM, says, “Volunteering, even just on a once in a while basis, shows that you are a team player and are willing to give back to your community. It definitely shines a positive light on you as a potential employee.”4 Be sure to specify the skills you developed while volunteering and how they can be of value to the position you seek. Even if your work experience is on the lighter side, matching the qualifications for the position with your hands-on volunteer experience can help you land the job.
Who doesn’t love a win-win scenario? By volunteering, you can contribute to making the world a better place and become a more desirable applicant in the process. Seek opportunities that are meaningful to you, make connections in the organizations, and include the experience on your resume to make the most of your volunteer experience!