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Need a Paying Job? Volunteer!

You may be a high school or college student, a recent graduate, or someone changing careers, but the lesson remains the same: Volunteering makes you a stronger job candidate if you’re currently unemployed.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a government agency that promotes volunteerism. In 2013, it released a study that quantifies the relationship between unemployment, volunteerism, and getting hired. In this study, CNCS followed 70,000 unemployed individuals from 2002 to 2012 and learned that those who volunteer have a 27% better shot of securing a job over those who do not.

Interestingly, the link between volunteer work and employment was very strong among individuals without a high school diploma; volunteerism increased this demographic’s chance of employment by 51%. If you live in a rural area, your chance of getting hired after a stint of unemployment was raised by 55%. The CNCS found that this connection was consistent across gender, race, age, ethnicity, metro area, and a location’s unemployment rate.

This study goes on to suggest that volunteerism increases your chance of securing a job by strengthening  both your social capital and your human capital. By volunteering more, you can build a stronger network of contacts (social capital) that may result in employment. Volunteering can also give you new skills and work experience (human capital) that can strengthen an otherwise unremarkable résumé.

People who volunteer are more able to build a strong network of contacts which may result in employment(social capital), as well as learn new skills and gain work experience (human capital). Read below for more.

Social capital: Expanding your network

Volunteering is a great way to expand your networking circle while working to improve your community. When you volunteer, chances are you’ll come into contact with other volunteers who are like-minded and support the same causes you do. Volunteering can provide a fantastic setting to create personal and professional contacts. Working directly in your community may be a more fulfilling way to network than going to a formal business luncheon.

Human capital: Gaining new and marketable skills

If you lack the experience to land your dream job, volunteering can be a great way to strengthen your current skills or gain new ones. Volunteers are often provided with extensive training that is transferrable to a paying job. For example, donating your time towards a nonprofit’s social media efforts can sharpen your journalistic skills. Or volunteering as a gallery assistant may help you learn the ins and outs of the art world.

In summary, volunteering isn’t a bad option if you’re out of work and looking for a job.

By engaging in volunteer work, you can expand your social network and learn new skills while building up your résumé. If you’re unemployed, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty with a nonprofit. Donating your time may just lead to your next paid gig!


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