7 Ways Volunteering Can Benefit Your Career

The Prepped Team

April 14, 2021

5 minutes

Volunteer

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Getting your foot in the door of a company right after graduation can be a challenge. Each year sees a host of new graduates which means the competition for roles is fierce. So, how do you make sure you stand out from the crowd?

While many graduates have decent grades and a bit of work experience under their belt, volunteering can make a difference when it comes to padding your resume.

Spending your time helping an organization or individual, not only impacts your community but also levels up your skill set. Here are some of the ways volunteering benefits you personally and professionally, and how to highlight it on your resume.

7 benefits of volunteering

1. Improves mental health

Volunteering makes you feel good about yourself. This might sound like a more selfish reason for doing it, but sometimes selfishness is self-care. If it feels right, in this case, it’s probably right. 

Berkeley University did a study that found those people who volunteered reported they not only felt their health but rated their lives as overall happier. Who doesn’t want to feel healthier and happier?

2. Gives you more time

It might sound counterintuitive, but research by Harvard Business School revealed that those who volunteered felt like they had more time. And feeling like you have enough time is half the battle when it comes to time management.

3. Improves your self-esteem

Remember the selfishness is self-care argument? It’s doubly true when volunteering because feeling healthier and happier also boosts your self-esteem. You feel better about yourself when you help others.

A study published in the Journal of Social Service Research found that “volunteers had higher personal and neighbourhood well-being.” Translation? They had a better view of themselves and the world they live in. Healthy self-esteem gives you the confidence to put yourself out there and do your best.

4. Expands your network

The old adage “it’s not what you know but who you know” still applies in 2021. Volunteering leads to expanding your network and meeting new people who could potentially help further your career. 

Through volunteering, you’ll meet like-minded people, which can lead to forming strong bonds. Those strong connections might just be the one that puts you in touch with a company and helps you land that dream job.

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5. Builds new skills

One of the benefits of volunteer work is that it can help build new skills. And it’s even more fun when you know you’re doing it for a good cause.

According to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, volunteering is the “new executive training ground” because of its ability to teach leadership skills in real-world situations. It gives you an opportunity to develop your leadership and communication skills while learning about critical issues our communities are facing and working to solve them.

6. Boosts your resume

Summer internships are great for helping to build your resume, but they don’t always give you the experience that you’re looking for. Instead, many soon-to-be-grads end up helping out with administrative tasks or covering things that the team can’t get to, instead of truly learning the ropes. 

But volunteering can give you the opportunity to work on your chosen skill set in a way that is more impactful. If you have your sights set on overseeing social media for your favourite swimwear brand, running the Instagram page for a local non-profit that sells second-hand clothes gives you the opportunity to learn skills you can add to your resume that could just lead to your dream job.

7. Leads to career success

Deloitte conducted a survey that found that 73 per cent of respondents believed that doing volunteer work can make an individual more successful. Further to that, 80 per cent of people involved in the hiring process believed that individuals who volunteer move into leadership positions more quickly.

Volunteering not only helps you build leadership skills but shows hiring managers you’re willing to take the extra initiative and truly contribute. It’s not a big step to think your leadership in the community could bleed into your work and see you going further fasters.  

Looking for great volunteer opportunities? Read our article on how to find volunteer opportunities in Canada.

How to add volunteer work to your resume

If you’re a recent grad who is lacking in professional experience, adding any community service work or volunteering to your resume is crucial. It helps showcase your skills and signals to a hiring manager that you’re a well-rounded individual that cares about the great good.

Your volunteer work can be listed on your resume just like you would any other job, though you should indicate that it was done on a volunteer basis. It can be listed under its own “volunteer experience” section, with your “related work experience” or, if your resume is broken down by section (i.e. “event planning experience”) you can list it under the appropriate place.

If you’re not sure how to prepare your resume or you simply want a refresher, Prepped can help. Learn proven job search skills that will get you results, at your pace. Sign up for Prepped, it’s free!