Usually when you think of volunteering, you think of something that people do for altruistic motives without any expectation of recompense. As it turns out, though, if you’re not the altruistic type, you can still reap great benefits to your career if you get involved in volunteer efforts. Here are just a few of the reasons that volunteering can be a positive career booster:
1. Volunteering helps develop valuable skills. In addition to honing skills that you already have, volunteering can give you the chance to experiment with new skills. You don’t have the same pressure to succeed that you usually feel at a paid job, so volunteering can give you the chance to take risks that you might not want to otherwise.
2. Volunteers are perceived as team players. Volunteer experience can go a long way toward helping create the impression that you are a motivated team player. Sure, not all volunteers are necessarily great people, but having ample volunteer experience certainly helps create the impression that you are a good person and a team player.
3. Volunteering helps with networking. By spending time as a volunteer, you’re guaranteed to come into contact with other motivated individuals – just the types who can be valuable networking connections. Also, when you volunteer you’re likely to run into people from a variety of careers and companies, so it can be helpful if you’re looking to expand your network outside of your current field.
4. Volunteering can fill in resume gaps. Even when the economy is tough and you find that you have some downtime between jobs, there are always volunteer options available. If you’re dealing with health issues or taking a career break to obtain more education or raise kids, you can still be involved in volunteer efforts a few hours a week.
5. Volunteering can help keep you motivated and creative. When you’re doing the same job day in, day out, it can be easy to lose motivation to improve your career. You just get stuck in a rut. Volunteering, though, can help continue to expose you to new ideas and remind you that there are more options in your career path than the job you are currently holding. Being stuck in the same positions for years can also stagnate your creativity – but switching things up by becoming involved in a series of short-term volunteer opportunities can insure that you don’t stagnate.
If you’re looking for ways to get involved as a volunteer, you may want to check out sites like volunteermatch.org and catchafire.org, which match volunteers with opportunities in their areas of interest.