Principal Consultant, Career OverDrive!
Greg Baldwin, President of VolunteerMatch, recently wrote an article where it was claimed that active volunteers were 27% more likely to get a job than non-volunteers (see the article and links below).
This raises a few pertinent questions for job seekers and those with jobs who may want to augment their resumes to enhance their future employability.
1. Is it true and if so WHY?
2. If it is true, how to handle this on one's resume?
I would submit to you that it is true that those that volunteer do have a much higher likelihood of getting a job versus non-volunteers but not for the reason you may infer.
In general, the prospective employer doesn't care about your generosity or ability to be magnanimous. The prospective employer only care about the skill sets and more importantly the value you can bring to their organization (we'll delve in the negative connotations of volunteering and being seen as a volunteer below).
The reason volunteers have a better chance of landing a job is two-fold:
1. The volunteer work, especially among lower skilled workers, provides the individual the chance to learn new skills or hone and temper existing skills. This could be phone work, interpersonal communication skills, sales and organizational skills and so on. For instance, this would be especially a key differentiator for new college graduates where the person managed the finances of a school organization or managed the group or club and so on. Basically, volunteering and learning these skills will pay off for your career more so than watching tv or playing Call of Duty or some other video game.
2. When you volunteer you have chosen to help others and participate in an activity with others rather than sitting at home watching tv or drinking at a bar. This means you will meet other energetic and take-action type of people, some of which will be in other industries, other functional areas or more senior or successful in their career -- in other words you will be a network on which to leverage. To identify job openings, to identify the hiring manager or an insider to submit you to the hiring manager and so on.
By understanding why the volunteer activities helps you get the job over others that don't have it, we have the necessary ingredients and recipe to answer this dilemma:
How to handle volunteer activities on your resume?
- Some career coaches will insist that you always list it.
- Some will insist that you list it only if it's relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Some will insist that you only list it, even if it's relevant to the job you are applying for, if the prospective employer can call and verify it.
Each of these criteria of when to list it, again misses the mark since the value of the volunteer activities is NOT the listing (some listing exceptions discussed below) of it on the resume but the skills, confidence and network you build by networking.
In fact, by listing it, you may not be signaling you are smarter or better than other candidates but rather you may be worrying the prospective employer that you are "distracted" or will be missing days of important work or personal crusades or hitting up the company and fellow employees with guilt trips for donations.
Again, the value in volunteering and the increase in the likelihood of a volunteer to land a particular job over a non-volunteer is NOT due to listing it on the resume but rather due to the skills that are acquired and network that is built through the volunteering activities and process. And as was noted, listing the volunteer activities may harm you if it mismatches with the hiring authorities views, religions, beliefs and so on OR if it makes you seem distracted by your volunteer work.
With that said, only you know what is important to you and for those that want to improve themselves, build a network or get crucial skills while an undergraduate, volunteering is a fantastic and proven way to do so.
Now onto the listing exceptions (that is, when you should definitely be listing your volunteer activities). If you are going to point to a specific skills that you acquired or proved your proficient use of at a particular charity or volunteer activity, then you should be listing it so that you can (a) have it written for all to see and (b) frame the discussion and reference that during the interview as well as to show enough value in your resume to initially get invited for an interview. This often happens for new grads as well as well as those with limited working world experience, such a homemaker who is entering for the first time or re-entering the workforce. For such persons, the value of such activities and more importantly the skills, lessons and experiences developed, gained and learned can be a major point of differentiation.
by Greg BaldwinPresident, VolunteerMatch
November 06, 2013
If you are job hunting, or just looking around for new opportunities, you have probably spent a lot of time recently tending to your LinkedIn profile. Updating your experience. Joining new groups. Building your network. Following your favorite new Influencers
But what if I told you there is something else that you probably aren't doing which could dramatically increase your odds of getting a job?
It's not about getting a graduate degree, and it's not even about learning a new skill. And as for changing your perspective, you can also put those Tony Robbins CDs back in the closet.
According to the research, the smartest and most often overlooked thing you can do to get ahead in the competitive job market is to start giving back. That's right. If you want to improve your odds of getting your dream job, it is time to start volunteering.
Here are the facts.
This summer, researchers at the Corporation for National and Community Service, released new findings that tracked the relationship between volunteering and employment for a group of 70,535 respondents over a ten year period.
According to Dr. Chris Spera, CNCS's Director of Research & Evaluation and one of the authors of the report "Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment," active volunteers were 27% more likely to get a job than non-volunteers. And the relationship held stable across gender, race, ethnicity, age, location, and unemployment rate. That's a big difference.
Underlying the findings, Spera and his team believe there is a strong relationship between volunteering and the development of social and human capital -- key attributes in today's most desirable candidates.
The findings echo a recent LinkedIn survey of 2,000 professionals which found that 41% of respondents consider volunteer experience to be as important as work experience for job candidates. The survey also found that 20% of hiring managers have offered jobs based on a candidate's volunteer experience.
So what are you waiting for? Last year 64.5 million Americans volunteered. Which might sound like a lot. But it's really only a bit more than one in four of us. So until everybody else reads this and starts volunteering you'll have a leg up on 180 million people.
If you need some help getting started come visit us at volunteermatch.org. And once you've found a great place to volunteer add it to your LinkedIn profile and let the job hunting begin.
Greg Baldwin is President of VolunteerMatch the web's largest volunteer engagement network.
Additional Research Report: Volunteering As A Pathway To Employment