Job Q&A From The Trenches: Should I Volunteer?

Job Q&A In-the-Trenches

Welcome to Job Q&A From The Trenches! We answer your questions on building your resume, interviewing, searching for jobs and more – just ask!

Q: My friend suggested that I take time during my job search to volunteer – not only to get me out of the house, but also to improve my resume, is that right? I don’t want too much time away from job hunting  plus I’m not sure if it’s really for me. 

A: Job searching can feel like a full-time job itself, and you may wonder if devoting time to a volunteer project might delay your search. Getting out of the house is also a good thing, and committing to a volunteer role is a great way to do so. Consider that you’ll also be marketing yourself at the same time. Your friend is right! Volunteering definitely builds your resume, and influences your job hunt and career in other ways.

Why Volunteer?

Volunteering allows you to contribute your skills and time to a cause where you can make a positive influence, and also enhance your career. According to LinkedIn for Volunteers a survey of LinkedIn members say:

“20% of hiring managers in the U.S. agree they’ve hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience.” *

Think about it – in an interview, when asked what you’ve been doing since leaving your last role, you can discuss how you used your planning and project management experience to raise money for your local arts center through fundraising efforts. Or, you could detail how you utilized your budgeting and P&L skills to help a struggling senior center towards a more solid financial plan. Using your career experiences in a volunteer role helps you keep your skills sharp while you’re on the job hunt – and tells a potential employer that you weren’t content to sit back and collect unemployment – you got out there and DID something with your time!


♦  Shows you are active while in between jobs – taking initiative to enhance and expand your knowledge, while keeping current and involved.

♦  Offers your skills to a cause that you feel passionate about. This will not only help you do something good, but can also make you feel useful and productive, boosting your self-confidence – a must-have in the job hunt!

♦  Improves your job search! Being a volunteer builds your:

Volunteering adds skills and experience to your resume. It can also help fill employment gaps in your career, because volunteering is experience that hiring managers take into account. Not everyone puts volunteer details on their resume – you should! It will help you stand out.

It’s important to keep your skills fresh and updated, and being a volunteer can sharpen your career tools, if you find an organization that’s right for you. Volunteering displays your value to employers; demonstrating your drive and passion exhibits your potential and eagerness to become part of a team and effort to succeed.

Spending time with peers and building relationships is beneficial to your career. Not only do we learn from others as we expand our network, we may connect with those who could refer us to a potential opportunity. Or maybe the person you volunteered for will make a great reference, and help you secure a future role. It’s not what you know – it’s who you know!

LinkedIn Profile
Your online profile should not be a copy/paste from your resume, it should complement it. There’s more room to utilize on LinkedIn than your resume, and the opportunity to show more information around your volunteering given the amount of space offered – use it! When signed into your LinkedIn account and viewing your profile:

1.  Click the arrow next to “Add new profile section” to display the drop down box
2.  Click on “Volunteer experience”
3.  Within this section you can include the name of the Organization, Role you held, Dates you held that role, and a full Description of your experience.
4.  Under Cause, you have a drop down box selection of categories such as Animal Welfare or Environment to choose from.

Where to Volunteer?

Start by checking out your local community boards on social media, and begin asking around. A couple other resources to consider:

♦  US Department of State:
♦  LinkedIn for Volunteers:

Volunteering is great for personal development as well as enhancing your career. Good luck finding the right volunteer role for you!

*From LinkedIn for Volunteers: “Volunteering is good for your career” 

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