3+ ways volunteering can help your early career

by Sep 1, 2021

Here’s the thing:

Most employers looking to hire entry-level candidates want them to have tangible work experience, a handful of skills, and some know-how about the business.

Reason? They don’t want to take chances and hire someone who may or may not excel in the role.

Luckily, volunteer work can help jumpstart your career. You’ll not only give back to the community, but you’ll also get a chance to turbocharge your CV with relevant experience and improve your employability.

Keep scrolling to learn more.


Stand out in a competitive job market

It’s no secret that the competition in the job market has grown more fierce after the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for summer jobs.


The situation is different for volunteering. In fact, volunteers are needed more than ever, as nonprofits have seen significant drops in volunteer support since the start of the pandemic.

So it’s the perfect time to make a tangible difference and gain valuable work experience.

Best part?

Many employers don’t draw a line between paid and unpaid work. That means you’ll be able to list your volunteer experience in the employment section on your resume. Plus, volunteer work may significantly improve your chances of landing a full-time job further down the road.

So how do you find volunteer work in your desired field?

First off, always check out CareerHub for opportunities – you can select ‘Volunteer’ under the ‘Opportunity Type’ drop-down list. Another way to do it is to run a simple Google search for “[your industry] + volunteer opportunities” and let the search engine scrape relevant listings from volunteer platforms, LinkedIn, and major job boards.


Develop sought-after hard and soft skills

One of the best things about nonprofits is that most of them operate very much like regular businesses, except for the funding part.

They generally have marketing, accounting, and IT teams, giving you plenty of options to pick both hard and soft skills to develop.

For example, as a volunteer, you can practise your conceptual competencies, public speaking or learn technical things like SEO content optimization.

Best part?

You’ll pick all these skills in a low-risk environment, as volunteer organisations don’t usually pay for work. That means you don’t have to worry about losing the job even if you fall flat a few times.


Make impactful connections

Did you know a whopping 85% of working professionals find jobs via networking?

How come?

Think about it from an employer’s perspective. When an existing employee refers their connection, the hiring process usually grows faster and cheaper. After all, the HR team doesn’t need to pen a job posting or review hundreds of applications because someone can vouch for the new person.

On top of that, most referred hires stay longer with companies, which is good for business.


One of the core benefits of volunteering is that it gives you plentiful opportunities to meet new people (luckily, many businesses are moving back onsite) — be it full-time employees, board members, or other volunteers — and work with them side by side. And one of those people might hold a ticket to your first full-time job later on.

That said, be aware that things don’t happen overnight.

More often than not, you’ll have to earn others’ trust by showing your dedication, accountability, and productivity if you want to become their first-line connection with backdoor access to jobs.


Stacking it all up

While finding your first entry-level job is anything but easy, volunteering can help ease the transition from university to the working world.

It’ll not only help you rise above the noise in the job market, learn new skills, and make valuable connections along the way, but you’ll also do a lot of good for your community.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Max Woolf

By Max Woolf


Max Woolf is a job search expert and a career advice writer at Zety. His insights, advice, and commentary have been published by Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, Fast Company, MSN, NBC, Yahoo, USA Today, Fox News, AOL, The Ladders, TechRepublic, Reader’s Digest, Glassdoor, Stanford, G2, and 200+ other outlets. Max’s mission is to help job seekers from all around the world develop their skills, find good career opportunities, and land jobs quickly and without much effort.