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8 Surprising Career Benefits of Volunteering – It’s Not Just a Resume Builder

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8 Career Benefits of Volunteering

At the bottom of your resume do you have a list of organizations you’re a member of? How many of those organizations do you actually serve on a committee or sit on the board? As professionals, we all inherently know that there are career benefits of volunteering, but how many of you actually volunteer for an industry association?

The next time you update your resume, you might want to think about these surprising benefits of volunteering when you’re looking to round out your experience.

1. Improves your health and even reduces stress

A recent study by United Health Group & the Optum Institute discovered a direct link between volunteering and better physical, mental and emotional health. About a quarter of the people who have volunteered in the past 12 months say that volunteering has helped them manage a chronic illness. And, 76% of people who volunteered in the last 12 months say that volunteering has made them feel healthier. Lastly, 78% of people who volunteered in the last 12 months say that volunteering lowers their stress levels.

2. Makes you a better employee

The same United Health Group study also found that volunteering helps employers get healthier too. “Employees who volunteer also bring more refined job skills to the workplace which provides a significant benefit to their employer.” More than 75% of people who said volunteering helped their careers, revealed that volunteering has taught them about time management. Sixty-four percent of employees who currently volunteer said that volunteering with work colleagues has strengthened their relationships. Finally, 49% of people new to volunteering said that volunteering has helped with their career in the paid job market.

3. Leaves you feeling like you have more time, not less

Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner published the results of her research in the Harvard Business Review that found those who volunteer their time feel like they have more of it.

Said Mogilner, “The results show that giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time-constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time.”

4. Expands your skill set

When you serve on a committee or sit on a board, collaboration and communication are key skills you need to engage with a diverse group of people to reach a common goal. Going back to the United Health Group study, 87% of people who said volunteering helped their career responded that volunteering has developed their people skills and teamwork skills.

5. Generates revenue and builds your brand

It’s no secret that speaking and publishing are great channels to generate leads for your business, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a corporate employee. Associations and other nonprofit organizations are always searching for quality content, so if you can speak at an event or even write an article for their newsletter it provides great exposure to your target audience. There’s a good chance what you said, or what you wrote will resonate with members, and they will want to hire you to help.

Not only that, but it helps you establish yourself as an expert. This is when referrals will start coming in. People feel more confident in investing in people recommended by colleagues, friends or family. So in networking situations, when someone asks, “do you know someone who…” you want the person to answer “yes, I just heard them speak…”.

6. Primes you for a career change

The biggest hurdle when contemplating a career change is gaining the experience you need. Professional associations are an excellent way to gain that experience. Just by joining you’ll get exposure to best practices and trends in that field through the programming that is offered. Then when you take the next step and get involved, you’ll be able to expand your experience into areas that wouldn’t necessarily be available to you in the paid marketplace.

When you volunteer you’ll also get to know the leaders in your industry. They’ll get first-hand experience seeing your abilities. It’s a great way to build relationships, and according to U.S. News & World Report, 70% of people land jobs through networking.

7. Fills any gaps in your resume

If you’ve ever been in transition, you know how critical it is to keep up with your skills and find something to fill the hole in your resume. Employers begin to see a disadvantage if you’ve been out of the marketplace longer than 6 months. Turn that gap into an asset and differentiator by volunteering. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk about how you helped obtain the largest attendance ever to the annual conference, or grew membership 30%? Besides you need to get out of the house during your job search, and volunteering is the perfect opportunity.

8. You live longer

Analysis from the Longitudinal Study of Aging found that individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for physical health. Other research done through the National Health Interview Survey and American’s Changing Lives Survey show similar results. Looking at health and volunteering data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Center of Disease Control, a correlation can be found with states that have high volunteer rates also have lower heart disease rates.

Now that you’ve seen that volunteering benefits you in many more ways than simply another point to add to your resume, you’ll be motivated to raise your hand and say “I can help with that.” Associations are always in need of a few good men and women to grow their membership, produce programs, and run events. Remember the more you give, the more you get.

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