The Power of Volunteering in Your Community

© WavebreakMediaMicro -
© WavebreakMediaMicro –

According to a 2013 LinkedIn resource, 42% of hiring managers believe that volunteer experience is just as important as formal work experience.

While we’ve always known it looks good on a resume, does community involvement lead directly to work? Here’s how it did for one of my clients – let’s call him Scott.

Scott was volunteering at a local hospital, transporting patients to and from their tests and procedures. He struck up a conversation with one of these patients, a gentleman who was recovering from a hip replacement.

When the topic came around to work and Scott told his patient that he was in transition, the man exclaimed, “I may have the perfect job for you!” Within two weeks, Scott had a new senior vice-president position.

Benefits of community involvement

Of course it’s not always going to be that quick and easy, so keep in mind all these other benefits of community involvement:

Learning – Volunteering gives you the chance to learn or sharpen skills you may not currently use in your daily work life, but which contribute to expanding your career competencies and enhancing your unique promise of value to advance your career.

Giving – We all lead busy lives today, with numerous personal and professional obligations. Contributing even the smallest amount of time to a charity or institution helps you express how much you care about your community. The bonus for you is that it feels great!

Enriching – You meet people volunteering you may have never met otherwise. For some, like my client Scott, these are people who can connect you with your next executive appointment. Others will simply give you a new perspective that helps round you out as a person, and insights you can draw on as a leader.

Serving on a board

Board work can be a particularly fulfilling way to give back to your community. Charitable organizations are always looking for board and committee members.

Altruvest provides a service called BoardMatch, which matches available candidates with non-profit board opportunities suitable for your skills. For example, if you’re a finance professional, you could become an organization’s treasurer or join their finance committee.

Volunteering and your career – closing thoughts

On your resume, list only non-political and non-religious examples of your community involvement. Unfortunately there is still discrimination against certain views. The only exception would be if you were seeking work in that particular realm.

Community involvement doesn’t have to be a weekly commitment; it could be once a month, or for a limited time such as a specific campaign or event. What’s most important is to follow through with whatever commitment you’ve made. That reinforces your public image and brand – as a person who keeps their word, cares about their community, and gives back.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity for sharing, caring, giving and learning; you never know who you could meet on that charity board or in that hospital corridor.

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