Jobs don’t grow on trees. The fact that hundreds of people compete for a single position is proof of this. So how do you stand out from the pack? For some, it is as simple as volunteering.

An international organisation tracked 70,000 jobless people over a ten year period (2002-2012) and found that those who volunteered had a 27 per cent better opportunity of finding employment than those who did not engage in volunteer work. Is there another job search strategy with this much impact!? Clearly volunteering is a genuine pathway to finding a paid position. And it is so because volunteering demonstrates a higher level of capacity, drive and productivity, and that is very attractive to today’s employers.

Often volunteering can lead to the development of new skills. The candidate who spends their weekend helping not-for-profits organise events and raise funds learns skills in project management, team work, communications, sales, strategic planning, organising, record keeping and the list goes on. These are all highly transferable and sought after job skills and employers make the correlation immediately.

Volunteering will also expand your networks. And often we volunteer at places that represent something we are passionate about. The want-to-be carer can be found at the aged care nursing home; the aspiring carpenter may be seen building a school for kids living in a remote village; the motivated personal trainer is eagerly leading a school holiday sports program. It is not surprising to learn then that many volunteers are highly educated having completed bachelor degrees or the like. Through volunteering we can be introduced to other professionals who could ultimately hire you or refer you to other connections with job openings.

Some of you are not sure about which industry you would like to work within. Volunteering can help you define the career you want to pursue. If you’re uncertain if you want to work in the not-for-profit sector or for a large conglomerate, why not ‘try on’ different organisations through a volunteering role? Exposing yourself to different working environments will give you a firsthand understanding of how you would fit and perform in these very different work places while avoiding the job hopping scene. And with a growing number of companies developing a strong sense of social responsibility in giving back to their community, your charitable side will add depth and character to your resume and experience, demonstrating a good cultural synergy.

Being a volunteer requires commitment, a fact that does not escape employers. And when you are volunteering for the local Greens representative, it also demonstrates that you are genuine about pursuing a career in politics. Voluntarily practicing your trade will demonstrate that your passion stems from more than just money. If you are willing to give the time and effort in your personal life to following your ambitions, you will give 100 per cent effort in the workplace.

You can give back through corporate, community or personal volunteer roles. And you can give as little or as much of your time as you like. The fact remains that employers view volunteering very favourably thus any type of volunteer work is a great boost for your career. Your resume will not necessarily reveal a person who has good people skills, is proactive and will go above and beyond, but if you treat your volunteer roles as professional positions, you can change a potential employers perception of you before you’ve even had a chance to meet them. So don’t sell yourself short when next applying for a job role, paint a clear picture of your personality and core values by highlighting your volunteer experience. It will win you a job.

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