5 Ways Volunteering Gives You An Edge In Your Job Hunt

Contemplating whether to include your volunteer experience in your resume? The answer is a resounding yes! Contrary to common misconception, volunteer experience is highly regarded by hiring managers.

A Deloitte study of over 2,500 US-based hiring managers found that 82% of interviewers prefer applicants with volunteer experience, with 92% agreeing that volunteer activities build leadership skills. In contrast to these findings however, the report found only 32% of job applicants mention unpaid community service experience on their resumes.

Evan Hochberg, National Director of Community Engagement for Deloitte, agrees “It’s clear that the skill and experience gained through volunteering are respected and that they provide an edge for job candidates during the hiring process.”

It might be tempting to leave out your volunteer experience, especially if you’re struggling to fit it all into a 2-page resume, but that would be a huge mistake. Don’t underestimate the value of your voluntary contributions.

Here are 5 ways volunteering gives you an edge in your job hunt:

1. Learn new skills

According to Deloitte’s 2013 Volunteer Impact Survey, 76% of HR Executives feel that the skills and experience acquired through volunteering make a candidate significantly more attractive to employers. Results of the study also indicate that “volunteering experience may play a big role in building leadership skills.”

Think about the different skills you’ve acquired as a direct result of your voluntary effort. Make a list of them and pick the relevant ones to highlight for the respective job application. You might be surprised at how many new skills you’ve learnt but overlooked!

2. Plug those gaps

It’s common to have short gaps in your resume when you’re in between jobs, but it would be much better to plug those gaps with volunteer work. This tells your potential new employer that you don’t have a problem contributing your time and skills for worthy causes, which says a lot about your character and personality.

3. Grow your network

Getting involved with non-profits and charitable organisations is a great way to grow your social and professional network. Working and interacting closely with like-minded individuals inevitably leads to meaningful relationships that could pave the way for future career growth opportunities.

4. Get inspired

Doing the same job for an extended period of time can lead to stagnation of creativity, or even just simple complacency. When this happens, it helps to take time off and try something new. This would be a great opportunity to take up volunteer work. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, do something you’ve not done before, and get those creative juices flowing again.

5. Embrace gratitude & humility

Working with the under-privileged or a worthy cause that benefits those in need can be quite an eye-opening experience. Most of us live privileged lives and have never experienced poverty or violence or abuse. Seeing how fortunate we are in comparison will add a much-needed dose of gratitude and humility into our lives. When we are grateful for what we have, we will naturally be more grounded and appreciative of the many luxuries we have access to. This makes us happier people, which in turn makes us more productive as employees.

Having volunteer experience on your resume says that you think about the society around you. It says that you want to be part of the solution, and that you’re humble enough to do unpaid work. If there’s one universal rule about employers, it’s the simple fact that wherever possible, they will prefer to hire genuinely nice people. Who wouldn’t?

So if you’ve ever done volunteer work, or are considering it, make sure it’s given the prominence it deserves on your resume.


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