Volunteer work by John Szepietowski

This day and age, having a solid income and good social network of friends and colleagues is indisputably advantageous, both personally and professionally. Early in your career people rarely start off with a strong network in these areas, volunteer work can be an excellent way to help build a fabulous career, friendships and security.

Volunteer work can help provide you with good references
When employers look at resumes, they don’t just want to see that you have a particular skill set. They also want to see that you will conduct yourself in a business-appropriate manner—that is, they’re as concerned with your behavior as what you know and can do. The difficulty is, it’s hard to get a job without references, and it’s tough to get references without getting a job. Volunteering allows individuals who are just starting out in the business world or who are shifting careers to do supervised work that establishes the references necessary for other applications. Even if the work isn’t paid, your supervisor can still write a good recommendation letter or put in a good word for you when employers inquire about you.

Volunteering adds to your resume
In addition to providing references, volunteering gives individuals something to put on their resume in place of or in addition to paid work experience. This is especially advantageous when you want to show you have skills that are not necessarily covered in other jobs listed.

Volunteering demonstrates your involvement with the community
Volunteering doesn’t always veer too much from the work you’ve done in paid positions. Listing volunteer positions on your resume is still useful because it can show that you see and are aware of the needs in your local community. It demonstrates that you have a caring spirit and that you have interests that go beyond money. Good employers like this because they recognize that success in business means recognizing the human component of operations and sales.

Giving time to volunteer shows your interests
Even though it sometimes happens that people get paid jobs doing what they honestly love, more often than not, people get hired into jobs for which they are talented but which they might not have a great passion for. When you volunteer, you get a chance to reveal passions you might not show elsewhere on your resume. Paired with your work experience, volunteering thus gives employers and other acquaintances a clearer, more rounded picture of who you are as a person, what you can do and what you’ve learned.

Doing volunteer work expands who you know
People who volunteer often know a large variety of individuals who may have similar interests as you do. They know who is active with similar organizations or who might be able to share knowledge, tools or talents with you for various projects. When you volunteer, you can also meet people from your community who ordinarily you might not meet, and it can broaden your perception of the community you are part of.

Volunteering gives you a sense of self-fulfillment and purpose
Occasionally, some nonprofit organizations do offer paid positions. Generally, however, volunteer workers do not receive payment. The reason why most people volunteer is to do good, to give back, to contribute, to make a difference in the world. The value of this cannot be measured in pounds and pennies. You might find that volunteering leaves you feeling less lonely, more accomplished, refreshed, more aware and even liberated for accomplishing goals and challenging yourself.

Becoming a volunteer makes you resourceful
Volunteers are used primarily with nonprofit groups who cannot afford to extend monetary compensation to workers. These companies frequently do not have the resources of larger corporations, even though they might have significant goals. Challenged to do more with less, you might discover new ways to network, get people to donate time, money or goods, prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities and find necessary items. Learning to be resourceful is a useful skill in life and can easily be transferable to aspects in your life at home or in the workplace. It can lead to increased efficiency and even pay increases, bonuses and promotions, particularly in companies who truly are on the lookout for employees who think outside the box for creative solutions.