Don’t think that your volunteer work goes unnoticed. A recent LinkedIn study found that 41 percent of professionals surveyed consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating candidates. In addition, 20 percent of the hiring managers surveyed have made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s volunteer work experience.
If you’re between jobs or have a schedule that allows you some extra time, volunteering could be the way to beef up that résumé. “This is clearly a person who stays in the game rather than waiting for the phone to ring,” says Juan Morales, managing director at the Miami office of Stanton Chase International. “It shows initiative and a strong desire to exercise management skills for a charity or nonprofit organization.”
If you’re lucky — and smart about where you donate your free time — you might just make a professional connection, one that could lead to further employment. “It’s best if you can be strategic when seeking a volunteer opportunity, finding a cause or mission that you’re passionate about but that also has a connection to a current or potential work goal,” says Chuck Pappalardo, managing director at Trilogy Search NonProfit. “Volunteering provides an excellent way to network, stay fresh and learn new skills, either in a job seeker’s current field or one that he or she is interested in accessing.”