5 ways volunteering can help you make a career change

Are you thinking about making a career change in the new year? Are you considering a career in the nonprofit sector? Then volunteering in the sector is essential. Volunteering allows job seekers the opportunity to gain experience and make contacts in the nonprofit sector. It could also be a great way to explore another area of interest within the world of nonprofit career opportunities. This is the ideal way to make a difference while advancing your own career. Here are some of the benefits of volunteering.


Improved personal and professional networks

The people who’re already working in your field of choice are the best source of information about what it’s like in the sector. They’ve got information about job openings, other affiliated organisations and the people you should meet. In addition, if you make a good impression while you’re volunteering, your fellow volunteers or supervisor may serve as a reference when you begin applying for jobs.

According to LinkedIn, volunteering can be as beneficial for your career as it is for the individuals you’ll help.

“The majority of career enhancing opportunities come through relationships and volunteering exposes you to people you wouldn’t encounter otherwise.  And get this: volunteer relationships are particularly beneficial since many of the folks you interact with while volunteering are usually driven, conscientious professionals who can be a great referral. Volunteering offers a whole new world of qualified and valuable connections.”


New skills

Volunteering will help you develop new skills as well as find new ways to use current skills. For example, if you’ve been working in marketing and have experience in social media, you could use those skills to help an organisation get the word out about their mission and events. If you’ve been writing and researching reports in your current position, this would be useful for a nonprofit.


Career shifting

Volunteering gives you the opportunity to try different organisations, roles and issues without hopping around. When you’re volunteering, this can only look positive on your CV. Of course, volunteering isn’t the same as being one of the team full-time, but it can give you the opportunity to see into an organization in a deeper way than merely supporting it or following it on social media.


Experience you can add to your CV

It’s a fact that nonprofits value experience in their issue area. By spending some time volunteering at a hospital or clinic, for instance, you’d be more likely to get a job working with Doctors Without Borders. In this way, you’re demonstrating to potential employers that you’re committed to, and educated about, their issue of concern. This is valuable to a nonprofit employer because they won’t have to spend time educating you about the issues in their sector.


Your volunteer experience will be valued

Employers and hiring managers value the time your spent as a volunteer. This can make your CV stand out among a pile of other almost identical resumes. Research, including the 2016 Deloitte Impact Survey, has found that 86% of nonprofit hiring managers consider volunteer experience to be at the very least somewhat important when choosing candidates.


“Despite volunteering’s well-documented benefits in the workplace, as well as its widespread appeal among respondents to the 2016 Deloitte Impact Survey, the survey results seem to indicate that there may be a disconnect between employees and businesses about volunteering’s role in the workplace,” said Doug Marshall, director of corporate citizenship, Deloitte Services LP.

“At Deloitte, we have experienced the importance of volunteering and understand that it helps build skill sets that are critical to developing well-rounded leaders across our organization.”

The survey also found that 92 percent of respondents reported that volunteering expands an employee’s professional skill set and 73 percent believe people who volunteer are more successful.

“As the battle for talent continues, volunteering can be a strong leg-up on the competition for both prospective employees and employers,” said Mike Preston, chief talent officer, Deloitte LLP. “Companies that create a culture committed to making an impact and to tapping into their employees’ sense of purpose have the ability to attract and retain top talent.”

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