There are several reasons job seekers include volunteer experience on a résumé: To show involvement in the community; to highlight their interest in and a commitment to a particular cause that may or may not be job related; and to demonstrate skills that are not apparent from other résumé information.
In addition, job seekers sometimes cite volunteer experience to compensate for lack of so-called professional experience or to help bridge employment gaps.
While recruiters and hiring managers often consider volunteer experience, they typically don’t give it as much weight as “work” experience. This can be a mistake.
Volunteering provides an opportunity to use an array of skills, and develop new ones.
Among the many skills that volunteering helps build are these 22 identified by job-search expert Noelle Gross, which she shares at her Career Strategy website:
- Teamwork/Ability to Collaborate
- Strong Work Ethic
- Sense of Mission
- Relationship Building
- Project Management
- Optimizing Limited Resources & Tight Budgets
- Decision Making
- Problem Solving
- Info Processing
- Influence Others
- People Management
Gross refers to these as transferable skills, for obvious reasons.
Similarly, Youth Volunteer Corps, an organization aimed at addressing community needs and inspiring youth, notes that volunteering allows for skills development that will help its audience, young people, land a job. It indicates that volunteering helps develop these 20 skills:
- Ability to work with a variety of managers
- Time management
- Communication skills when talking to people of all ages
- Ability to work with people different from you
- Work ethic
- Customer service
- Public relations
- Following instructions
- Problem solving
In the Workplace
There are a few duplicate skills on the two lists, but only a few. And clearly, all items on both lists are applicable to the workplace.
Nevertheless, identifying the extent to which volunteer experience is relevant depends on many factors, including breadth and depth of volunteer experience as well as your particular job requirements.
Finding a match may take a closer look, and an exploratory conversation. However, by considering volunteer experience, you may uncover a highly qualified candidate.
Career changers, people returning to the workforce after an extended absence, and entry-level workers are among the many job seekers who may have skills acquired or honed while volunteering—skills they can put to use working for your organization.
|Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.|