Volunteering makes a difference in your job search

 October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Did you also know that we pay attention to other noteworthy causes this month? Adopt a Shelter Dog, Bullying Prevention, and Domestic Violence just to name a few.

Which brings us to the topic of volunteering. Volunteers drive the efforts of practically every nonprofit and human service organization. And it’s not just folks from human services programs that contribute to an organization’s mission. Accountants, engineers, computer technicians and counselors work side by side to make a difference.

But did you know that volunteering can make a difference in your job search? Linked In research shows that one out of five hiring managers in the U.S. agrees they hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience. Volunteering shows initiative and commitment to your community. Additionally it lets you develop your skills.

What are some reasons you should check out volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood?

1.  Networking

Meeting people is essential to a successful job search. Find a balance between networking and searching job boards. Through volunteering you’ll meet lots of people with varied professional backgrounds. Strike up a conversation with someone at the next volunteering event. People can’t know you’re job hunting unless you tell them.

Volunteering helps get your foot in the door in a particular profession. Interested in teaching? Contact a school principal to inquire about volunteer opportunities at a local school. Are you pursuing a job in the counseling field? Consider volunteering for a domestic violence or rape crisis center. If a job becomes available, their volunteer pool might be the first place they look for candidates.

2.  Building a resume

If you’re in between jobs or unemployed, volunteering is a great way to avoid gaps on your resume. You’ll list these experiences on your resume and talk about them at an interview.

3.  Polishing your skills – and developing some new ones

Animal shelters need more than dog walkers. They need help with fundraising, public relations, event planning, accounting, etc. Talk to the volunteer coordinator about your skills: You never know where they might come in handy! Additionally if you’re hoping to develop certain skills, volunteering is a great way to do so. You can develop the skills set minus the pressure of job performance reviews.

4.  Focusing on someone else in need

A job search can consume you. An extended job search can lead to depression. Making a difference in someone else’s life often helps you appreciate the positives in yours.

Example: One student experiencing a tough job search began volunteering at an organization that worked with kids. What a difference! Knowing the children at the organization were counting on him kept his spirits high. He also became more motivated to find a job because he realized his potential in a new profession (working with kids!).

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, check out the list of resources below. Start giving back to your community – and improving your hiring chances – today!

Charlotte Volunteer Opportunities

Hands On Charlotte

Serve Net

United Way of Central Carolinas

Habitat for Humanity

Charlotte Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation Department