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6 Tips to Make Volunteerism Work for You

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Last week, we partnered with the Fort Bliss AUSA Chapter and Army Community Service (ACS) office to host a Military Family Forum titled “Be Your Own Ambassador: Making Volunteerism ‘Work’ for You.” The day was filled with accomplished speakers from Points of Light, American Red Cross, In Gear Career, Military Spouse Employment Partnership, ACS Employment Readiness Office and SHRM. Here are six of the best tips from the day:

1.      Volunteer with a purpose. Don’t just walk in and take any volunteer position. Know before you go what type of position you want. Use volunteering to update skills you haven’t used in a while, expand your skills in the direction you would like to see you career go, or get your foot in the door with an organization you are passionate about.

2.      Network, network, network. You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not about what you know, it’s WHO you know.” Use your volunteer position to meet new people and network. When a position opens in an organization, they are often flooded with resumes. Ask people you volunteer with if they know anyone where you are applying. Let them know what type of job you are looking for and ask if they know of any other organizations hiring. If they do, ask them to put in a good word for you after applying. That can make the difference between landing an interview and getting lost in the sea of applications.

3.      Include buzz words from the job posting when applying. Many organizations have software that scans all the resumes before they make it to the hiring manager. To ensure your resume makes it through the first cut include key words from the job description in your resume.

4.      Have a volunteer position description, which will help you decide if a certain position is the right fit for you and which you can use to write your resume. If the organization doesn’t have volunteer position descriptions, ask if you can help create them.

5.      Include volunteer positions on your resume. The time you spend volunteering is time you spend expanding your skill set. Include this information on your resume and when asked about it, let the employer know that you treated this like a paying position. Tell them what you were able to achieve in the position and mention any changes you helped implement.

6.      Use your volunteer experience to earn college credit. LearningCounts for the Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program helps military spouses earn undergraduate college credit for knowledge while volunteering. This can help you save time and money while earning a degree. 

Everyone has different reasons for volunteering. But not everyone knows how to leverage their volunteer experience to land their next job. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are looking to volunteer.