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Whether you’re a seasoned worker who has spent years in the workforce, or a bright-eyed graduate looking to grow your skills, a strong resume full of hands-on involvement and well-rounded skills is something everyone needs to get a job! A common struggle with building your resume is that you need work experience. But how can you gain new skills without constantly changing jobs?
Volunteer experience is a great way to boost your resume and grow skills that you might not otherwise learn in your day-to-day duties. Or perhaps you have taken an extended leave from the workforce due to raising a family, travel, or economical struggles in your region. Volunteering is a great way to show you’ve spent time growing your skillset outside of a traditional 9-5 job. While lending yourself to help feed the homeless or care for animals at a shelter are intrinsically fulfilling and well worth your time, these experiences may not support your career in the ways that you want (or in the ways that a hiring manager is looking for).
There’s good news! Many non-profit organizations have volunteer positions that mirror many traditional (paid) jobs. In these roles, you essentially learn or practice skills ‘on the job’ to boost your skillset and grow your network. Even better news? Employers are looking for volunteer experience on resumes! More than 80% of respondents in a volunteer survey said they were more likely to select candidates who noted volunteering on their resume. Why? Volunteering makes for more well-rounded individuals! We’ve broken down how you can use volunteering to benefit your career in a few easy steps.
What do I want?
The first step is to identify what skills or experiences you’re looking to build. These do not necessarily need to be things you are already good at, and can be things you want to improve upon or push yourself out of your comfort zone to make you more well-rounded. Are you a great listener? Look into being a Crisis Counselor for a help line. Are you interested in taking your writing skills to the next level? Try resume writing for veterans. Do you have a flair for music and the arts? There are programs for that! Are you interested in growing your relationships with others while helping kids in your community? Linking up with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters or Mentor are a great way to grow your own skills, and those of the young people around you. The opportunities are truly endless, so let some self-examination be your guide.
Where do I go?
Once you’ve identified the field you are interested in or skills you’d like to grow, search online for organizations and opportunities that align. Check out sites like Idealist.org or VolunteerMatch.org, where a quick search for opportunities with the keyword “marketing” turned up almost 1,800 opportunities including SEO, event marketing, and web design. These opportunities can be done on your own time, and often from the comfort of your own home!
Not finding exactly what you want? Find an organization that you think could benefit from the work and reach out to propose your idea! Most would be thrilled to have some extra help and might not have considered looking for support. For example, a photographer looking to build her portfolio reached out to the local animal shelter offering to take photos of the dogs needing adoption. The photos were amazing and were shared online leading to lots of animals getting new homes and lots of new (mostly human) clients for the photographer!
Another way to get involved could be right within your community! Is your town looking for a youth sports coach? What about an after-school tutor? Contacting your local schools or board of education can reveal opportunities right in your town!
How do I update my resume?
Once you’ve got some awesome volunteering experience under your belt, the next step is to add It to your resume! No matter what volunteer experience you’ve decided to move forward with, think about the skills you’ve gained/improved upon since you started. If you’ve been working with a local school to create and organize fundraising events, “project management” might be a great skill to add. Have you reached out to others for donations or helped to recruit other volunteers? See if “sales experience” fits on your resume. What about leading a group of other volunteers in your efforts? “Management experience” or “team leadership” would be great abilities to add.
Once you’ve identified how your volunteer experience has helped you grow, examine the company that you are looking to apply to. Many companies have a strong sense of social responsibility in their corporate structure and social culture. Showing your dedication to volunteering and aligning your efforts with their company values will show that you would not only be a good fit for the position, but within their company culture as well.
We Give a Chip™: Deep River Snacks is proud to donate a minimum of 10% of net profits to charities each year and is a strong advocate for volunteering! To learn more about how we give back as a company, visit DeepRiverSnacks.com/Giving-Back and follow us on social media @DeepRiverSnacks.