I recently hit the six-month anniversary mark of graduating from college and am still on the hunt for a “grown up” job. Now, it’s not that I’ve been sitting around binge watching Netflix all day (though that has been part of how I’ve spent a lot of time).
But, I’ve been keeping myself afloat by working remote and freelance jobs, as well as other random jobs here and there (a salon receptionist, a television background actor, an expense report auditor.) And, while my resume continues to become more of a scroll than a Word document, I still have trouble taking the plunge for the 9-to-5.
How can I stand out?
The most difficult part has been finding a way to set myself apart from the thousands of others who graduated recently, and who are vying for the same entry-level positions. And, as many of you already know, it is incredibly difficult to make yourself standout on paper.
Now, I have no trouble paying my dues by getting my foot in the door, but I would still like to have something that makes my resume slightly different than the rest. It recently occurred to me what may be able to help: volunteering.
Many people have volunteer experience on their resumes, but how much of it was actually voluntary? For me, my volunteer experience has usually been part of a class.
But, now that I have more time on my hands, I’ve realized that is important to use that time wisely and to give back to others. And, after reading through Karen Schneider’s list on Career Contessa about the five ways volunteering can help you get a job, it became clear that this can be a mutually beneficial experience.
How it can help
First of all, volunteering can help expose you to training and skills you may have never thought you would possess. You’ll likely be dealing with tasks that you don’t work with on a daily basis, and you can grow as a result.
Attractive on resumes
Second, this will stand out on your resume (ding, ding, ding!) Listing volunteer experience on a resume is something that employers love to see.
It also may provide an opportunity for more talking points in the interview, as you can use examples of volunteering experiences and how they may apply to the workplace.
Third, like any other social situation you put yourself in, you open yourself up to a new networking opportunity. Simply by speaking to the people you are volunteering with may provide you with advice and information that can be helpful to your job search.
Fill the gap
Fourth, if you’re in my shoes, volunteering can help fill the resume gap of unemployment or underemployment. Instead of handing an employer a half-filled out Word document that prompts them to ask what the hell you’ve been doing for the last year, you can insert your volunteer experience. Even if it wasn’t a money-making endeavor, it shows that you have perseverance.
It’s a feel-good experience
Last, but not least, volunteering has a way of leaving you feeling good about yourself. While it is awesome to help others and to do good, it’s important to take care of yourself and put yourself in positive situations. So, if you’re looking for something that is an all-around win, volunteering may be the route to take.