The first step in looking desirable to employers could be getting your hands dirty with a volunteer gig. The first step in looking desirable to employers could be getting your hands dirty with a volunteering gig.

Entering your dream job—or even your dream job field—right out college has always fallen into Catch-22 territory:How do you obtain job experience in a field you’ve never worked without someone hiring you to get that experience? Well, according to LinkedIn’s Career Expert and founder ofWORKS, an online resource for career-minded young women, Nicole Williams says that the Millennials, the demographic group following Generation X born between 1983 and 2000, are currently writing the book on how to get that relevant experience.

Williams says that it’s all about volunteer work. Millennials are finding that many of the not-for-profit organizations that have seen funding evaporate with the recent economic woes have been offering positions to volunteers that go beyond trivial daily duties and are actually attached to real skill development.

 

“Volunteer opportunities are more challenging. They’re more interesting. They’re more strategic and they offer a lot more than what they did in the past,” says Williams. “There are a lot of fundraising positions, social media, marketing, public relations and website development positions. All of those positions would have been funded at a point in time, but now they’re not. So, the experience and the opportunities to learn have just increased exponentially.”

What she is seeing trending with the Millennials, who represent the largest number of the over 225 million LinkedIn members who have added the “Volunteer & Causes” field to their profiles, is that they are filling of these volunteer positions simultaneously while holding down their first jobs out of college.

“And, frankly, that’s pretty smart,” says Williams. “What’s happening is they’re getting a double hit in terms of exposure to new relationships that are hopefully going to lead to full-time employment in their desired field.”

Williams also makes clear that no cause is too small. If you can’t donate time to staffing a part-time position at an organization, she says: “Go out to your community. I was walking down the street in New York City and there’s a new “Clean It Up” initiative for the summer season. Yeah, you’re going to spend a day sweeping, but that’s not the point. You’re putting it out there that you’re taking the initiative to go out and find opportunities.”

According to Williams, employers are responding to seeing these experiences on resumes as hiring managers are “always looking for an affinity.” She believes that the volunteer work being done by this demographic illustrates that larger and possible global interests are on their mind, which could potentially align with the gatekeepers of your dream job.

Employers seem to be getting it, too. Williams states, “employers really do understand that the world of volunteering has really changed and there’s a high number of hiring managers that consider volunteer work part of the package when their assessing if this is the right person for the job.”

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