Volunteer your way to awesome (jobs)
There are a bunch of different ways to improve your chances in the job market. One of these ways is volunteering. Yes, it makes you more employable. And, it makes your life more awesome.
Here’s the proof. A Corporation For National and Community Service Study in the US1 found that:
Volunteering is associated with a 27% higher chance of employment
A statistic that is stable across demographics and regardless of economic conditions and the job market itself. There are a lot of possible reasons for these findings.
Firstly, volunteering is kick ass work experience.
It provides references, time on the job in an appropriate work environment, and often have an automatic interview process for volunteers, meaning that, if you’re volunteering and a sweet job comes up in that organisation, you’ll have a foot in the door.
Volunteering also increases social cohesion and social capital2.
Social capital is the idea that your friends and networks add value to your life. We are able to do things because of our connections that we’d be unable to do by ourselves. This includes everything from moving a fridge to a new apartment, to getting a new job. By yourself it can be very tricky, but with friends, it’s easy. In other words, it’s not what you know, but who you know.
Volunteers have more positive attitudes towards society
Along with higher levels of social responsibility, improved interpersonal and communication skills, and higher ambitions for their education. But perhaps more importantly, volunteers are more likely to describe themselves as happy. And happy people are nicer to be around in a work environment.
Good for your mental and physical health
Plus, there’s lots of evidence that volunteering (and other generous acts) are good for your mental and physical health. Generosity makes you happier3 and happier people live longer4. Volunteering also increases people’s self-esteem, self-efficacy, purpose in life, environmental mastery, and sense of belonging – most especially when people enjoy their experience and are invested in the people or cause they’re working with. Recent international research has shown that giving is one of the five ways to well-being (along with learning, connecting, taking notice, and being active)5. People with higher well-being tend to do better not just at work, but at life (win!).
Finally, volunteering can help you decide what you don’t want to do, just as effectively as it can help you decide what you love.
Interested in more good reads on volunteers? Check out: Three ways to take steps to change your career and Eight ways to change career
1. Spera, C. Ghertner, R. Nerino, A. & DiTommaso, A. (2013) Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment: Does Volunteering Increase Odds of Finding a Job for the Out of Work? Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Evaluation, Washington, DC, https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/upload/employment_research_report.pdf
2  Putnam, Robert. (2000), “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” (Simon and Schuster).
3 Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319, 1687–1688.
4 Danner, D., Snowden, D. A., & Friesen, W. V. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the Nun Study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(5), 804-813.