“Volunteering on your career break is the act of giving your time in order to help others. But have you thought about how it is helping you, your re-entry, and your career? Most career break itineraries include some sort of volunteering. It’s a great feeling to help others around the world build their knowledge, community, or infrastructure. However, volunteering on a career break goes way beyond simply feeling good about yourself; it can be a key element to building your career when you return.
Volunteering on my career break changed the trajectory of my career and life. It was through my volunteering assignment in India that introduced me to Michaela Potter, who worked for the company I was volunteering with. Through that friendship we discovered our passion of career break travel and were determined to bring career breaks to American society in the form of Meet, Plan, Go! When seaching for a volunteer opportunity, keep in mind that it is a two way street – don’t forget that you should be getting something out of the experience too.
You need to look for opportunities that are consistent with your skills, interests, and career.When you return, you will need to consider the best way to highlight those experiences to enhance your job search or career. Volunteering can demonstrate a commitment to character, signal your ability to accomplish a goal, or show that you are a well rounded person. It will most definitely make you stand out among other applicants.
A recent LinkedIn survey found that 41 percent of the professionals surveyed stated that when they are evaluating candidates, they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience. Twenty percent of the hiring managers surveyed agree they have made a hiring decision based on a candidate’s volunteer work experience. Over the next two months at casual Meet, Plan, Go! meetups around the country, we will focus discussions around volunteering as part of your career break. In addition, we are providing resources for you to research programs further, prepare for volunteering, and how to account for it on your resume.
We want to make sure you are making good volunteering choices and harnessing that experience back into your career hunt when you return from your break. We kicked off this volunteering meetup theme last night in San Francisco where we heard stories of other career breakers who have volunteered and introduced people to resources such as Groundwork Opportunities, who offers free volunteering opportunities to utilize your skills. Check out our upcoming schedule of free meetups or consider hosting your own Meet, Plan, Go! meetup in your city.
Sherry Ott Meet, Plan, Go! Co-Founder
Has volunteering played an important role in your career re-entry? Share your story over on our Facebook Page“.
Re-posted from Meet, Plan, Go February 8, 2012 Newsletter