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How valuable is volunteer experience for job applications?

I've heard volunteer experience is a valuable thing to have when applying for jobs, so is it especially recommended/desired? I have no time to dedicate to volunteering due to a job and full-time school, so I'm a little concerned this might impact my future job searches and applications. How much volunteer experience is enough (if there is such a limit)? #career #jobs #job-search #volunteering #volunteer #job-searching


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Fabiola’s Answer

Calvin,
The thing about volunteer work is not how many hours you spend on it. It's about what you learn from it - and what you can share about this experience in your future interviews.
Volunteering is much more than some words in your résumé... It's about giving some meaning to your life by helping others.
The volunteer work gives you the opportunity to grow in many areas of your life - it doesn't matter if you spend 1 or 20 hours/ month on it.
Once you're able to explain to somebody how you've grown from this experience, you've found your limit ;)


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Kim’s Answer

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Calvin,


It's good to see that you are thinking ahead to the job search!
Previous responses have given good explanations. To add to that, let me explain how it personally helped me. I was unemployed during a period of high unemployment. I started doing GED tutoring. It was only 2 hours once a week. Yet I put it on my resume, in the work history section. It made it look like I was not unemployed, as I did not mention that it was volunteer. It also directly related to the type of work I was looking for.


The longer one is out of work, the harder it is to find a job. It is also difficult to break into a new field. Few people want to take a chance on someone who thinks they want to be in a particular field but have never even been around it to know that they like it (or don't like it!) What I learned from it was that there were many people worse off than me, and it put my life's problems in perspective. You also feel good when you do something for someone else.


I encourage you to find a way to volunteer, perhaps through a school group. And like has already been mentioned, be prepared to explain your role and what you learned from it. It is not enough to simply say that you volunteered.


Best of luck to you!
Kim


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Thaiz’s Answer

Volunteer work can be a great e experience to develop different skills: leadership, teamwork, scheduling, etc.
This can be a differential in your resume depending on how you describe it.
In an interview, you can use the situations that you faced on the volunteer service to demonstrate those skills. Any experience is valuable.


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John’s Answer

I'm a huge fan of quality over quantity - being able to speak to a few strong experiences will almost always be better than having a laundry list of "check the box" activities. Whether it's a school club, job, or volunteering experience, you'll get more opportunities if you are able to commit to it rather than treating it as a drop in activity that you do once in a blue moon. With that in mind, if you're already at capacity with what you currently have on your plate, burning out trying to volunteer is going to detrimentally impact your other activities - we all only get the 24 hours we have in the day, so it's important to prioritize.

Volunteer because you have a passion for the cause and want to be involved. Pragmatically, I'll also say that it's been a good network builder for me (I've gotten to meet other great young professionals who share some of my interests).

John recommends the following next steps:

Research organizations nearby that you are passionate about and understand what time you have to volunteer
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Find consistency - find a time that works for you and stick to it...it'll be easier to be committed if you know that every Saturday at 5 you do this volunteering
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Bring some friends who share that passion
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Patricia’s Answer

Great question and, truthfully, it depends upon the type of position. Let's say you are applying to a non profit organization but have no demonstrated community involvement or social responsibility on your resume. The hiring manager probably would select someone whose passion to help others over you. But let's say you are applying for a corporate position in an organization which does not focus on community involvement. It would not be as critical.
The type and level of position and organization would be your indicator to the relevance of volunteering.


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Phil’s Answer

Hi Calvin, many of us have experience in the field we choose to pursue but lack engagement with our communities. Spending time giving back will not only make you a steward to your community but will set you apart when speaking to a hiring manager. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to show your skills outside of work and allows you to network. Employers look for a well-rounded person.  And ultimately, you feel better about yourself. So, win-win. 

Phil recommends the following next steps:

Look for opportunities within your community that interest you.
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Website, bulletin boards, Libraries will have information
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Start off slow, try a few areas
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Network
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Reap the benefits
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Cicily’s Answer

See it this way Calvin. When you volunteer this is your chance to stand out and be recognized for doing great things, stepping up to the plate and accomplishing goals that are usually paid position duties. Who do you think will be remembered more, the person paid or unpaid doing the same function? This is why this type of experience is needed in life, it's a personal character builder.


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