Volunteering not only helps your community, is a rewarding experience and supports various important causes, but it can help you when you search for your next job.
There is a great connection of volunteering and finding employment. If you are looking for your first job, looking for your next job or changing careers, volunteering is also a great way to avoid gaps in your résumé. It shows a prospective employer that you are dedicated to your community and seek different opportunities even when you might not be working.
The Corporation for National and Community Service has issued a report that found that volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. Also, volunteers without a high-school diploma have a 51 percent higher likelihood of finding employment, and volunteers living in rural areas have a 55 percent higher likelihood of finding employment. (For a copy of this report, visit the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism site at dws.state.nm.us/nmccv.)
While you are out of work and looking for your next job, volunteering is the perfect opportunity to expand your network while also supporting your community. You can also explore volunteer opportunities in an area or industry that you are also interested in working in. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in teaching, you could look for opportunities with a children and youth literacy program. Networking is one of the greatest resources available to job seekers, and it is through your network that you can start reaching out to people who can provide you with valuable advice and employment leads.
You can also grow your current skills set or gain a new skills and abilities via a volunteer opportunity. You may work on a project where you are a valuable team member; this is just one of the skills that many employers value and that you will be able to demonstrate through your volunteer experience. Whether it is soft skills, such as communication, organization, and teamwork skills, or hard skills, typically the technical skills and knowledge required to do a job, these skills can really set you apart in a competitive market.
Don’t forget to include your volunteer experience on your résumé in a manner that captures the employer’s attention and makes you stand out from the crowd. Your résumé should reflect your unique experience and qualifications, and this may mean incorporating additional headings along with the basic, traditional headings of “Work Experience” and “Education.”Create a “Community Service” or “Volunteer Experience” section that includes the organization you volunteered with, time periods, and some details of the service you provided.
How you can use your volunteer experience to your advantage on your résumé depends on how much work experience you have, how long you volunteered, and how those organizations relate to the position you are applying for. Research some sample résumés on the Internet and decide how best to represent your volunteerism efforts.
This is a regular column written by the N.M. Department of Workforce Solutions. For more information, go to dws.state.nm.us.