Volunteering in your community is a great way to gain skills in your chosen profession. Community service also looks good on your resume — and it will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling deep inside.

Uncertain about the value of volunteering and how it helps with getting hired? Here are some stats that will make you ask, “Where do I sign up?”:

  1. “[O]ne out of every five hiring managers in the U.S. agree they have hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience.” — Nicole Williams for LinkedIn
  2. “[U]nemployed people who volunteered between 20-99 hours during the year were roughly 7 percent more likely to have found employment one year later compared to those who didn’t volunteer.” — Nancy Collamer for Forbes
  3. The Corporation for National and Community Service “tracked more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those who volunteered had a 27 percent better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t.” — Nancy Collamer for Forbes
  4. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “individuals with higher levels of education were more likely to volunteer than were those with less education. Among persons age 25 and over, 38.8 percent of college graduates with a bachelor’s degree and higher volunteered. So your chances of meeting professionals in the volunteer pool are good.” — Amy Neumann for Monster

Now that you know volunteering is key to getting hired, here are nine tips to help you maximize the return on your volunteer efforts:

  1. First, look through open job ads in your field to see what skills employers want.
  2. Create a list of skills you are missing that you need to cultivate.
  3. Research prospective companies and agencies where you can gain your needed skills through volunteer work.
  4. Become a volunteer at one of these companies/agencies.
  5. Treat your volunteer position as if it were a paid position. Show up, dress up, and give 100 percent. Make significant contributions.
  6. Use the opportunity to see if you like working in this particular niche. If you do not like it, then find another place to volunteer. Do not stay somewhere you do not enjoy.
  7. If you do like your volunteer work, ask for more responsibility. Sit down with your supervisor and let them know what skills you’d like to develop.
  8. Document your volunteer duties and accomplishments. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile with your newly acquired skills and accomplishments.
  9. Ask permission to use your supervisors as references when you begin applying to jobs.

When you treat your volunteer position the same as a paid position, you will bring value to the organization to which you are donating your time and talents, you will gain invaluable work experience, and you will make great contacts to help you build your professional network. The holidays are a great time to offer your talents to various organizations in your community. Contact one today and start working on your personal and professional growth strategy.

Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.

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