Reading Time: 5 minutes
The international volunteer day was designated by the United Nations in 1985 as an international observance day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism. The idea is to gain an understanding of the contribution to one’s community. The act of volunteering is found in all cultures, languages, and religions. Many people volunteer to make the world a little better and help to improve the lives of others. You too can contribute something to help other people, simple things like blood donations are easy for you but can be something important to others. If you want to be part of something greater, here you’ll find different opportunities to do so!
Volunteering Affects Mental & Body Health
Studies have shown that volunteering helps people feel more socially connected — thereby preventing depression or loneliness. It’s surprising that volunteer work has also positive effects outside of mental health. Evidence can be found in a new study published in Psychology and Aging — the results are that adults over 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. A higher psychological well-being and higher physical activity compared to non-volunteers have been measured. In this study, 200 hours of volunteer work per year means significantly lower blood pressure.
Your Personal & Professional Benefits of Volunteer Work
So, how does volunteering benefit you, precisely? Volunteering widens your social networks, allows you to exercise your passion for a particular cause, connect with others in a meaningful way, improve your physical and mental health, increase your sense of purpose, and feel the personal fulfillment that comes from knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life. With all these upsides, here’s a list of our top 4 benefits:
1. Hone Existing Skills or Learn New Ones
It’s a great way to expand, or even develop new skills. You gain experience, such as being able to manage your time or complete your tasks. It also shows that you can get along with others and make a commitment.
- Hard skills: If your role in the volunteering project matches your hobbies or interests, it is a great opportunity to add some professionalism to your hobbies or interests, gain hands-on experience, and perhaps give the necessary job experience for your future work. Or it can help you to improve your second language or your public speaking skills.
- Soft skills: confidence, communication, problem solving and teamwork — also many projects require a group effort and a leader to coordinate it. These skills are highly valued in the workplace but you can also improve more advanced management skills — how to prioritize or delegate.
All in all, volunteering can be also a good practical way to improve your emotional intelligence.
2. Be a Better Communicator
When working with people who speak a different language, you have to listen more carefully and pay closer attention to non-verbal cues. You also need to be clearer in your own verbal and written communication. People from different background and social groups can teach you to become more sensitive to nuances in language.
3. Create or Expand Your Network
Volunteering gives you the chance to meet new people and expand your network. The odds of meeting professionals in a volunteer pool are high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015, close to 40% of college graduates volunteered. From this perspective, volunteering can open doors to new potential opportunities. Additionally, volunteer work gives you the chance to explore different industry sectors you may be interested to work professionally.
4. Learn to Be More Adaptable
The working world is changing rapidly — companies need employees who are open to new ideas, ready to cope with unusual situations. To be flexible is crucial, you learn it when you have to work in a resource-poor setting, very different from home. You constantly need to adapt, especially if you work in a new culture with different ways of working and customs. Consequently, you learn new ways of thinking and can take on new perspectives, while limited resources force you to be creative and to do more with less.
In the end, volunteering helps you to get to know yourself – knowing your skills, accomplishments, interests, and values is the foundation of career success. Volunteering as a win-win situation, by helping others, you have the opportunity to boost not only your career but also your own well-being. Gain a new perspective, it’s a good way of developing yourself, personally and professionally. It’s something that will also make you stand out professionally. Don’t forget to mention it in your CV.
Precise Benefits of Volunteering for Your Career
Generally, volunteering improves your job search and job prospects. Therefore, Forbes asked career experts to share some insights from recruiters:
Volunteering does matter to employers. 42% of hiring managers surveyed by LinkedIn said they view volunteer experience equivalent to formal work experience.
~ Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s Career Expert
It’s crucial to make your job interview stories more memorable. Volunteering stories can even serve as a backdrop for cultivating some seriously competitive professional skills. According to a Deloitte survey, 92% of hiring managers believe that you learn new skills while volunteering, expanding your professional skill set. You gain new insights and learn how to do things in a different way. If you want to get more information about the intersection between volunteering & your career opportunities, Deloitte published a number of relevant surveys. In summary, the Deloitte’s Volunteer Impact Research shows that:
- 80% of hiring influencers indicated that they believe active volunteers move into leadership roles more easily — but only one-third of resumes in the US have it
- 86% of respondents believe putting volunteer experience on CV makes it more competitive
- 92% of respondents reported that volunteering expands an employee’s professional skill set
As the battle for talents continues – volunteering can be a strong leg-up on the competition for both prospective employees and employer.
~ Mike Preston, chief talent officer, Deloitte LLP
Additionally, volunteering improves your CV and you’ll become more successful when you are in an interview. It adds experience value to your resume, therefore, it looks more complete and makes it easier to reach the interview stage for the jobs you apply for. Then, while you are in an interview, it’s the perfect opportunity to impress recruiters with your experience and passion.
Summarized by The Albuquerque Journal:
“There is a great connection between volunteering and finding employment. If you are looking for your first job, looking for your next job or changing careers, volunteering is also a great way to avoid gaps in your resume. It shows a prospective employer that you are dedicated to your community and seek different opportunities. The Corporation for National and Community Service has issued a report that found that volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.”