Volunteering. Do employers care?
Nov 27 2017
The idea that volunteering will look fantastic on your resume is an idea that is drilled into us from a young age. Besides the obvious drive of wanting to make a difference, it is also motivating to think volunteering might help you get a job by improving your resume. And it’s true, it will look great on your resume, but do employers actually care?
You might be a student who is looking for a point of difference, something to make you stand out from the crowd. You might be a daughter or son who is being pushed into volunteering based on the view of your parents that it’ll benefit you in the future. Or you may already be a volunteer, but life is getting busy and you’re wondering whether you should continue. Will volunteering actually get you somewhere like everyone says it will?
The question we need an answer to is what do employers really care about? Why are we so often told to volunteer because it will help us in the future? The reason is that employers care about your drive, they want to know whether you will show up for work every Sunday and that you’re consistent and reliable. It’s not so much the fact that you went out of your way to help the elderly once a week, it’s the fact that you had the motivation to do so. You could’ve spent that one hour a week sitting on the couch being lazy. But you didn’t, and you didn’t even do it for a monetary reward
If an employer has two almost-identical candidates to choose from, both of whom have attended high school and played sports, but one of them has volunteered for a year, the choice is easy! The employer will choose the candidate who wanted to clean tables and serve food and be helpful, all for free. These are the kind of workers who are reliable, genuinely want to be of help, and who are used to commitment.
Some employers may be able to see that one of the reasons behind your motivation for volunteering is to better your resume and advance job prospects. There’s no problem with that. They will be impressed that getting a part-time job is that important to you. Employers will also see if the real reason you did volunteering was to make a difference; don’t worry, this won’t go unnoticed.
Volunteering displays a range of qualities that employers hope for in an employee. These include reliability, experience with commitment, and a drive to contribute to the wider world. It shows that you’re able to commit to something for a period of time, that you have the desire to work hard and build a skill base.
A definitive answer will never apply to all jobs or employers. If you want to work as a cleaner then perhaps it won’t matter as much, however, if you’re applying for a job at the Red Cross, then your volunteering efforts will matter. Regardless of your job prospects, volunteering won’t go to waste. It teaches you valuable skills and simulates a job commitment. From the employer’s point of view, it provides similar benefits.
Next time you find yourself wondering whether you should become a volunteer, or if it is really worth it, remember that being a volunteer will never be a disadvantage to you, it will only improve your chances of being employed.