Translate Your Volunteer Experience Into Employment

Did you know that working for free can help you transition into your dream job?

There is growing research on how volunteering increases your chances of employment. One 2013 study showed that “volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.” That number almost doubles for certain groups, such as those without high school diplomas. Learn about more about the study here.

Here’s how volunteering ups your employment odds:

  • It allows you to hone your skills. Volunteer work builds skills useful for any field, such as customer service and organization, and it’s a great way to learn new skills if you’re looking to switch careers or are interested in moving up in your current field. If you’re looking to gain a more specific skillset, look for nonprofits with a similar mission (i.e., volunteer for a hospital to pick up medical skills). Alternately, if you already have a specific set of skills, such as accounting, consider offering your services to a charitable organization for free.
  • It provides the chance to network. When you volunteer regularly for an organization, your supervisor can become an excellent professional reference for you. Also, many nonprofit organizations work closely with one another, increasing your chances of getting your name out. The key to capitalizing on this is to volunteer regularly for the same organization, instead of attending only large one-time events. This allows the staff to get a good feel for your work style and for you to pick up on opportunities to network.
  • It increases your chance of getting – and acing – the interview. Volunteer work is a great way to back up the qualities that you’ve listed on your résumé.  Show your interviewer what your values are and how you act on them by describing why you chose to volunteer. Volunteer work can be a great way to stay focused and busy between jobs, and will help you explain a gap in employment.  Employers will love hearing how dedicated and conscientious you can be.

Even giving just an hour per week can make a big difference, both for you and those you help.  To find volunteer opportunities near you, check out or

You may also want to check out this article on including volunteer experience on your resume, plus get more career advice on GoodProspects®.