How volunteering improves your resume

Do you volunteer for an aid organization? Volunteer to expand your professional network? Or maybe your social network? As a student, or newly born graduate, you might think that you don’t have the time to do volunteer work, or might not prioritize it, but maybe you should. Take it from a girl like me, with a crazy busy schedule, able to check all of the above: Volunteer work requires a lot of planning, but is definitely worth it. Not only has volunteering provided me with great experiences, but it has given me so much, both personally and professionally.

If you already do volunteer work, you will be happy to know that this can really help your career, and that it is NEVER a waste of time to do unpaid work, whatever your reason may be. Maybe you have a burning desire to help others, giving back to society or just making a difference, and if so, you should take the time to act on it. I have found that HR Managers of major Danish companies agree, that social commitment is a personal quality on your resume that is superior to many others, and a quality that many companies are trying to integrate into their organizations.

Because I assume that you haven’t been living under a rock for the last decade, I expect that you have heard of the term CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility in other words. With this, you might be aware of the discussion about CSR being bullshit and being a cover that companies take on, in order to gain credibility in the society. But is it really that bad? It might be in some cases but the term has definitely evolved.
 

What is Corporate Volunteering?

As part of the Corporate Social Responsibility wave, that started some years back, companies seem, in a more direct way today, to be obliged to increase the welfare of the local community in which they operate, as well as improving welfare globally. This basically means that passively incorporating a CSR-strategy in the business model is simply not enough anymore. Instead, some of the biggest Danish companies have, over the last few years, been working with Corporate Volunteering, which is a more hands-on approach to CSR.

Corporate Volunteering has a lot to do with conventional volunteering, but instead of engaging employees to participate in volunteer work on their free time, companies like IBM and Novo Nordisk are giving their employees time to volunteer during work hours. This idea has already become a MAJOR success in both Britain and the US, increasing the number of volunteers in the population, during and off work. Even though it may not be easy to work out the exact profit of social commitment, I believe that it should be considered as a revenue, not a cost.  

Is this REALLY doing anything for anyone, you might ask? CSR-manager of IBM Denmark, Pia Rønhøj explains the benefits like this: “It’s a win-win situation. Both sides benefit from the exchange of experience.(...) We get our managers back with a new view of the world and renewed motivation, which is channeled down through our company”.
 

What does this mean to you?

If you, as myself, have been doing a lot of volunteer work already, you will be happy to know that the development of Corporate Volunteering will most likely help your case in more than one way.

  1. It makes recruiting of volunteers easier
    No more questions like, “come on now, isn’t it just some sort of cult?” or “why would I want to work for free?” As Past President of a network organization, recruiting has been one of my main tasks as a volunteer, and the argument of Corporate Volunteering will make my encouraging efforts seem way more legit.
     
  2. You will (drumroll) expand your horizon
    This one was almost too easy but is very true nonetheless. Not only will volunteer work look good on your resume, it will help you widen your network. While doing good you will meet like-minded people and, most likely, make new friends as well as future colleagues. Wait and see.
     
  3. You will become a better candidate for the job
    Your dedicated jabber in a job interview of how volunteering has changed you into a more enlightened person will now be seen as a strong characteristic and a definite advantage for hiring you. I have, on several occasions, been told that  “social engagement is a quality, that translates into your capabilities of doing a good job, in a company that values social responsibility”. Win!

If you either have not done any volunteer work so far, or have never heard of the concept before, I suggest that you dig your way out of your cave and get started. Volunteer work can mean so much more than raise money for your local child welfare organization, and it might do wonders for your social and professional network. At least that was how I landed my internship.

Written by Jeanette Broe, Communication Assistant at Mikonomi.dk

Tips for find volunteering opportunities