Volunteerism is defined by the act of giving and receiving talent, time, treasure and ties. Volunteering can be extremely rewarding to the volunteer and the organization or community you are serving. I have always found this reciprocal relationship is best put as “the more you give, the more you receive.” Philanthropic work can broaden your experience and expose you to new opportunities and people. If you have been out of the work place for a while or just looking to expand your horizons, volunteering is a great way to keep your resume current by supercharging your existing talents and exploring new skills which you can parlay into experience valued by employers.
Here are just a few skills that could be gained and improved upon from volunteering.
- Teamwork & relationship skills
- Leadership skills
- Problem solving and adaptability
- Communications, including internal and external platforms
- Sales or fundraising experience
- Time management
- Improved interpersonal skills
- Industry-related skills
One major perk is most organizations provide a safe environment to test and sharpen your skills without work associated consequences. This “safe zone” allows you to try different things and hone in on what you are good at and/or love doing. Adding these experiences to your resume helps fill the gap from your time off and showcases your desire to stay relevant. Additionally, unlike paid work, volunteer work is linked more heavily to passion and commitment rather than specific skills. It shines a light on your ability to focus on and support the mission of an organization which could make the difference to many employers.
So where do you start? Look for organizations that align with your passions and goals. This could be your child’s school or local church. In addition, there are hundreds of nonprofits which support a wide variety of communities, from cancer to impoverished families to the elderly, there is truly something for everyone. Lastly, professional organizations are great way to stay current within your industry. Simple on line searches will yield many results where you can read the mission and opportunities within an organization. Be sure to explore opportunities that are out of your comfort zone, that is often where you will experience the most growth.
Updating your resume
First, make a list of positions or experiences and add the skills learned or updated under each. Quantify successes if applicable, any lessons learned and what you liked most and least about the position. The practice of writing it down will help you articulate your knowledge on your resume and throughout the interview process. I maintain this list and after volunteering for many years for a wide variety of organizations, I can put on a special event without batting an eye.
There are different format so pick one you are comfortable with.Use this list to update your resume by adding the name of the organization just like employment. Whether it is your local PTA, an industry specific organization or a nonprofit which supports community initiatives, the organization carries its own value and network. Include positions or offices held with the time range and give a brief summary of the position or skill mastered, using statistics when applicable. Lastly, use your resume to update your Linked In profile.
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Here are some resume entry examples:
The Junior League 2005-Present
Membership Director, 2013-2014
- Oversaw the management of the Membership Advisory Council
- Created a training program with 6 events held in the first year
- Implemented new awards program for membership
St. Mary’s Episcopal Day School Parents Association 2006-Present
Chair of Patron’s Party, 2015
- Planned and implemented event, including marketing materials, sponsorships and décor
- Raised over $65,000
Although you may not have been paid for the event planning, communications, or any creative ideas worthy of compensation, you have proven capabilities. And the monetary value of a volunteer hour is $24.14. You should be able to articulate the time and value you added to the organization(s). Be confident in your experiences and share it with your network!
by Lynette Russell