Regardless if you are a seasoned professional, adult learner or traditional college student, it is critical that you realize the Power Of Volunteering! It will enhance your experience, expand your network and allow you to make meaningful connections, which could pay off in your future. In general, volunteering is good for your community, but the key is NOT to volunteer for everything under the sun, choose wisely–grasshopper! Read this list of 11 Tips to ensure your Volunteer efforts are strategic and purposeful.
1) Ask yourself the tough question, “Why Do I Want To Volunteer Here?” If the answer is “To add a notch to my volunteer list”…..this is the wrong answer.
2) Select a non-profit because it resonates with you. Have you or someone close to you suffered because of this disease? Do you deeply desire to make a change in the lives of others who suffer from this disease?
3) Select a non-profit due to legacy. Maybe this ‘cause’ has been important to your family for generations and you want to continue to support it in their honor.
4) Be wise about Volunteering for political causes and campaigns, unless you are pursuing a political career. Otherwise, being involved with political issues, may be viewed as problematic to a potential employer. So, weigh your odds before saying yes!
5) Volunteering demonstrates that you are proactive and passionate about either sharpening your current skills or developing new ones.
6) Volunteering is an excellent way to gain experience in a ‘new field’ when you do not have years of experience to offer on your resume. This allows you to ‘compete’ with others who do have years of experience in their previous work history.
7) Provides an opportunity for you to dip your toe into ‘a new field’ with minimal risk of ‘getting fired’ from an organization. Forgoing the need to explain a termination on your resume, may prove to be wise. On the flip side, you may uncover an opportunity to make a career change, based on your new experience.
8) This is an excellent way to ‘fill the gap’ in between your dates of employment. Include this in the ‘work experience’ section of your resume to minimize the visual ‘gap’ that may otherwise jump off the page to a perspective employer.
9) Research the names/positions of those who serve on the Board of Directors at the philanthropic organization you are interested in volunteering with. They may or may not be the VP of HR at their respective fulltime position; but if they serve as a VP or at a Director Level with an organization that is on your radar, this could prove to be a worthwhile connection for you, in the long-run.
10) An advantage to meeting Board Members who are not directly employed by your target companies, these individuals are often a Circle of Influence and are connected to other corporations and to hiring decision makers.
11) Overall, be intentional with your Volunteer efforts. Either align yourself within your current industry, your current passions or with what you aspire to do next. Why? Because at some point you will need to answer the question, ‘Why Did You Decide to Volunteer There?’