Have you lost a job due to reorganization, downsizing, or reasons related to the pandemic? Are you entering the job market for the first time? Are you planning to re-enter the job market after time off to care for family members? In all of these situations you need to be prepared to answer the question “What have you been doing since you were last employed or in school?”
This question, during a period of unemployment or following college graduation, can be answered with examples of volunteer work you have recently completed or volunteer roles you have taken on .
Citing volunteer work, especially if you can point out experiences relevant to the position you’re applying for, can give you areas to discuss with a recruiter or hiring manager. Roles including sports coach, PTO treasurer, Scout leader, charity event fund-raiser, nonprofit board member, food pantry worker, book group leader, and more all are valuable. These activities give you things to talk about with a recruiter. You can talk about new skills you have learned and implemented which can highlight technical or creative skills, sales skills, budgeting, teamwork abilities, and problem solving. Volunteer work can highlight your ability to work on a team, find creative solutions, and manage projects.
You can expand your professional network through your involvement with other volunteers, improve your communication and negotiation skills, and learn about areas of employment you may not have considered in the past. With new volunteer connections you can boost social skills and gain insights into how others think.
Volunteer work can be used to bridge resume gaps, show you are a team player, build self-confidence, broaden your professional network, and sharpen skills. Perhaps, best of all, volunteer work feels good and when you feel good about yourself you will present yourself more positively.
- Carol Letofsky, CRC Advisor