Whether you are a recent college graduate or looking to make a career change, volunteering can boost your chances of landing your dream job.
Here’s why: Employers are seeking experienced job applicants, and experience is the one thing you probably lack if you are just out of school or are trying to enter a new field.
One solution: Volunteer your time in the field you’re interested in.
“Take this obstacle and turn it into an experience,” advises Sarah Mujulizi in her article on professional volunteerism on The Afrikan Legacy website.
“Find an organization that you would love to learn from,” says Mujulizi, where you can “refine your career skills.”
Most employers will count your volunteer time as experience and may even be impressed by your determination to develop new skills on your own time. Here’s how you could boost your career through volunteering, depending on what stage you’re at in life.
Start volunteering early — don’t wait until the last semester. And begin building your résumé while you’re still a student, counting your volunteer time as experience. Look into volunteer options in your field of study to get experience and see what you like — you may start with just menial tasks, but you should gain responsibility over time.
Consider volunteering at an organization or business where you would like to work one day. This will help you gain experience and build contacts, and it could put you in place to apply for a paid position at a later time.
Volunteering can help you diversify your experience. For example, if you are looking for management experience, consider offering to run a charity event. If you’re seeking to build writing or editing skills, you could offer to help an organization with their communication needs. Volunteering with a group in the field you want to enter will gain you insights and contacts.
Boost your career — and more
The time you spend as a volunteer not only offers you the opportunity to network, make professional contacts, and develop the skills you need to land your dream job, but it will also build your self-confidence. Helping someone else or contributing to a worthy cause feels good and can boost your morale, and this may give you the extra courage necessary to carry on with the job search.
Volunteerism demonstrates your determination, willingness, eagerness to learn, energy and passion — all important qualities a prospective employer looks for when hiring.
Learn how you can serve your community on our YALIServes page.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to those interviewed and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.