Most new graduates are eager to begin collecting a salary, but if a paid position in your field of choice proves hard to come by, accepting a role as a volunteer might be the smartest investment you can make in your professional future.
That’s because volunteering is more valued by hiring managers than most job seekers realize.According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, a mere 18 percent of job seekers believe volunteering can improve their career opportunities, and only 30 percent of resumes mentionvolunteer service. In contrast, 82 percent of recruiters say they are more likely to hire applicants with volunteer experience, and 85 percent say skills-based volunteering can help workers in their professional development.
Deloitte’s research is backed by federal data, which found that volunteers are 27 percent more likely to obtain a job offer than job seekers who do not have volunteer experience, and that the impact of volunteering on job-seeking success is even greater for entry-level workers and recent graduates.
Volunteer experience can communicate an applicant’s willingness to dedicate their time and talent to a mission-driven organization, a valuable trait in a professional landscape where an increasing number of businesses are prioritizing their own sense of mission. In addition, many businesses have a tradition of encouraging volunteerism among their workers and view community engagement as a positive trait.
For these and many other reasons, a post-graduation stint as a volunteer can be a strong career-builder. The following strategies can help you leverage a volunteer job into a full-time job.
You can also build a cover letter that focuses on your volunteer accomplishments. Follow up by customizing your resume and cover letter for every position to mirror the language used in the job description as closely as possible.6. Communicate with your managerMake a habit of sending an update on what you’re working on and what tasks you’ve completed to your manager at the end of each week. Let them know when you’re ready to begin a new task, or ask about long-term backburner projects that need to get done and offer to do them. The quickest way to convert a volunteer job into full-time job is to show your manager that you’re indispensable.7. Build your networkVolunteering can lead to a variety of networking and mentoring opportunities. In addition to your boss and other staff, you may find yourself working with community leaders, corporate donors and staff from other nonprofit organizations, all of whom have networks in different realms that can be leveraged to help you in your job search.
Because people you volunteer alongside are likely to share your values and care about the same causes, volunteering is an especially effective way to expand your network and find genuine allies in your quest for meaningful work.