By Peggy Hoffman, FASAE, CAE
“I’ve got a full plate. I don’t know if I’ll be available for those meetings. I just can’t commit right now.”
I’ve said that in response to an invitation to volunteer. Now, I don’t. Instead I ask will the volunteer opportunity help me meet my personal and business goals? Volunteering isn’t simply a time commitment, it’s a key. A key to unlocking a door to career development and advancement, health and wellness, and to meeting business goals.
- Helps you acquire new skills.
- Hone current skills – skills-based volunteering (Experteering is the word MovingWorlds uses) offers an opportunity to build leadership skills as you apply your skills to new environment. Strong leaders can think quickly and adapt to new situations.
- Builds your network – contacts and references.
- Demonstrates an energy and interest is learning.
Those four benefits translate to job advancement. As The Wall Street Journal wrote: “According to the survey of 202 human-resource executives, skilled volunteer work — such as helping a nonprofit with its finances — makes job applicants look more appealing to hiring manager.”
“Talent, not capital, will be the key factor linking innovation, competitiveness and growth in the 21st century.” – World Economic Forum
Not currently employed or looking for something new? Consider these stats.
- The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) study, Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment, research found that volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. “Service can increase a person’s professional contacts, skills and experience — all factors positively related to finding work.”
- A LinkedIn survey reports that volunteer experience can give job candidates an edge with hiring managers: 41% consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience of the professionals surveyed and 20% made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s volunteer work experience. Not sure where to put volunteering on your profile, check out Add Volunteer Work to Your LinkedIn Profile.
How about the physical and mental benefits? Volunteering lowers stress (and who doesn’t have stress these days) and, because it allows us to build relationships, boosts happiness. Read more on the evidence about these benefits at 15 Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering that will Inspire You and Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits.
It’s important, of course, to pick the right the opportunity for the pay-offs. Often, if your motivation is professional development or business goals, you can find the right opportunity in your professional or trade association. Chapters, Communities of Practice, committees and task forces in associations are great places to hone skills and gain leadership experience.
PRSA Maryland has many opportunities available from on-site, couple of hours jobs to short-term like setting up a series of Coffee Withs to committees. Click here to learn more.
So, do your homework. Get a clear picture of the opportunity from schedules to responsibilities to what done looks like, and have a frank conversation about your interests, skills and time to make sure the job fits. Where will you start?