Career Advice for Job Seekers

Study Says Volunteers Have a Better Chance to Find Employment

William Frierson AvatarWilliam Frierson
October 10, 2014

Team of young volunteers picking up litter in the park

Team of young volunteers picking up litter in the park. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

For college students and recent graduates without internships or entry level jobs, volunteering can give their job searches a boost.  As a volunteer, you can build your resume and obtain invaluable work experience for the future.  Learn about the study in the following post.

Based on the results of a recent study “Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment” by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, experts are giving good advice.  The CNCS study shows that unemployed individuals who volunteer have 27% higher odds of being employed than non-volunteers. The relationship between volunteering and employment holds stable regardless of a person’s gender, age, ethnicity, geographical area, or job market conditions.  The study also shows that volunteers without a high school diploma have a 51% higher likelihood of finding employment than non-volunteers without a diploma. Among rural volunteers, the likelihood increases to 55%.

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service said, “Many of us in the volunteer sector have long felt volunteering gives a boost to those looking for work, but we’ve never had solid research to back it up.  This report shows a definitive relationship – volunteers are more likely to be employed a year later than non-volunteers. We know that volunteering can help job seekers develop skills and expand professional contacts, creating a positive impression that can make a big difference in a competitive job market.”

Recruiters suggested that job seekers and students look for volunteer opportunities that are not only personally meaningful but that can offer some active leadership experience.  Recruiters agree that in any position – volunteer or paid – demonstrating leadership experience will be helpful when interviewing for future internships or employment opportunities.

Kimberly S. Hauer, Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer of Caterpillar, Inc. and supporter said, “At Caterpillar, we encourage all employees to participate in community activities that promote the common good. We believe that our success should also contribute to the quality of life in, and the prosperity and sustainability of, communities where we work and live. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to make a difference in both your own life and the lives of those you are serving. And, while giving back to your community or an organization that is important to you, you have the chance to increase your own skills or develop new areas of expertise.” experts agreed that volunteering is valuable to many employers. They suggest that job candidates should treat the experience much like a paid position on a resume and be prepared to explain what they learned and accomplished as a volunteer, and how this experience could be relevant or benefit a prospective employer.

“Balancing work and home responsibilities can be difficult, especially for those employees who have a strong desire to give back to their community,” said Kim Armstrong, Foundation program manager at Mutual of Omaha, a contributing company. “Through our corporate volunteer program, mutual employees are provided time off during the work day to volunteer. While this is definitely a benefit for employees, it also benefits the community by strengthening the neighborhoods where we live and work.”

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