Use These Types of Volunteering to Selfishly Advance Your Career

Volunteering is good. It’s good for the communities and individuals who directly benefit from it, it’s good for the people who do the work, and it’s good for society as a whole. It may also be good for your career.

It’s hardly news that hiring managers love to see volunteer work on their resumes, and of course, many people are motivated by both the pleasurable feeling of helping people and the career advancement that this has to offer. But if you have career ambitions, you should be more strategic about your volunteer work, because this work can bring much more value than just a line on your resume – it can help you grow your career in many ways. .

Making your volunteering more strategic and career-oriented will not diminish the value you are doing, and all it takes is setting your professional goals and finding suitable volunteer opportunities—in other words, being mindful of what you are doing. What are you focusing your efforts on? Depending on your goals, there are different ways to find the perfect volunteer opportunity that will benefit your career (and, you know, the world).

For leadership development

If you’re ready to take on a leadership role but haven’t had the opportunity to take on a leadership position at work, a great way to gain that experience is to become a board member. Board work requires more than free time and extra energy—it requires a much deeper commitment to the organization. But most importantly for your career ambitions, it’s a way to show leadership qualities similar to those required for positions of director, vice president, and senior executives.

BoardnetUSA and BoardStrong are services that help charities and volunteers find each other. Both of them work in the same way: you sign up and fill out a profile with your experience and skills, and then you can view a list of organizations looking for board members. Being on the board of directors of a charity can be a huge commitment—many of the tips are very practical, so only take this step if you’re ready to work.

Gain project management experience

Project management skills are always in demand. The difference between working on a project as support and leading a team, not to mention coordinating across multiple cross-functional teams, is often the difference between being considered for higher-level management positions and… not being considered for those positions. .

If you lack project management capabilities in your current position, it can lead to the frustrating situation where you can’t move up the corporate ladder because you lack experience, but you can’t gain experience because you can’t move to a new one. work. Job. Volunteering at organizations like Taproot or Catchafire could be your resume solution: both groups match your skills to the project teams that need them, but both can also offer opportunities for project leadership experience. For maximum professional benefit, be prepared to speak up and assert yourself, as many of these projects can get a bit overwhelming.

Change profession

Many people eventually find that they made a small mistake at 18 and now regret their chosen career. Sometimes this simply requires turning around in an adjacent area, but sometimes a radical course correction is necessary. Either way, changing careers can be a daunting task because all of your experience suddenly becomes much less valuable, and the skills you’ve actually acquired may not be perfectly transferable.

Volunteering offers a possible path. LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace and VolunteerMatch offer listings categorized into different categories, allowing you to identify opportunities in the specific area you’re hoping to break into. Not only will you gain the necessary experience to make your resume more attractive to companies in these areas, you will also have the opportunity to network specifically in your career area.

Gain mentoring and management experience

If your career goal is to climb up the corporate organizational chart and get that proverbial corner office (even if the corner office is more of a concept than an actual space these days), you will need to manage a team at some point. This usually starts in a small management role with a few direct reports, with constant growth as you move up the ranks.

But sometimes people miss their moment and get stuck just below that level of management. Volunteering can be a chance to gain meaningful experience in managing and mentoring others — an experience that hiring managers will appreciate when considering you for a leadership position. MicroMentor is always looking for people to become professional career coaches and mentors and can give you real experience as a manager. Similarly, Net Impact not only promotes social and environmental issues, but also engages volunteers in mentoring programs that provide an opportunity to showcase their leadership skills.

Get a raise

If you love the company you work for but are frustrated with the pace of your progress, one of the smartest things you can do with your volunteer energy and time is look inside yourself. Many companies have robust volunteer support programs ranging from specific time given to each employee for donating their time to explicit partnerships with volunteer organizations. If your company is partnering with a charity or other organization, volunteering in the workplace can get you noticed and boost your career.

You can also find out where your managers and other company leaders are volunteering and do the same. Volunteering in the same organizations as the people who make hiring and promotion decisions in your organization can be a powerful form of networking.


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