Why It’s Important to Add Volunteer Work to Your Resume
Discover the importance of adding volunteer work and community service to your resume.
Building a resume for college and future careers is one of the most important actions a person in high school can take. A good resume could propel you to the top of the list while a bad one could take you out of the game completely.
One important part of a resume that is often looked is the community service and volunteer section.
Why is it important?
Like most parts of a resume, it is a way to showcase your skills, experience, and expertise.
According to Michigan State University Extension, volunteer hours allow you to show your work ethic without having a professional job or previous career, as it is hard for many high scholars to find time to fit work into their schedules.
They are also a unique way to show your interests; by volunteering you show what you are passionate about and what you care enough about to spend time on.
How to volunteer…
Start locally. Any town, anywhere, will have at least one person who needs your service. If volunteering is something you are really passionate about you can look for summer programs or out of country experiences, but don’t feel pressured to do anything big. One person can make a difference and, no matter how small, it matters.
The most important part?
You should give your time and help to something you love. Although, volunteering is a crucial part of a resume, do not volunteer just for the hours and recognition. Assist a cause, person, or organization that matters to you. Volunteering can be a fun and great way to spend a day. It will always matter for your resume; just make sure it also matters to you.
The Value of Volunteering
What is a volunteer? What is the value of volunteering? Is volunteering about money? Should we measure it that way? Most people would say no. Volunteering is not about money. Volunteering is about giving, contributing, and helping other individuals and the community at large. It is working with others to make a meaningful contribution to a better community.
People volunteer for an endless variety of reasons. Many people want to gain experience, acquire new skills, meet new people, or expand their network of contacts as a way to get a new job or start a career. Others just want to give back to their community, to help a friend or promote a worthwhile activity. They do it because it makes them feel good and it gives them what someone describes as a “private smile.”
This is the intrinsic value of volunteering. It is not about money. And volunteering should not be measured that way, ever. We can add up the hours but not a money value. Others would like to do so. The federal government, for example, would like to add up the billions of hours of volunteer time in the country, multiply by an hourly rate and determine the economic value of volunteering. This is simplistic and dangerous. First, it assumes that only economic measurements are valuable and second, that volunteer time is free labour.
This is a slippery slope. It infers that volunteer work is replacing paid labour. It infers that if work is not paid for, it is not valuable. It reduces volunteerism to hours worked instead of contribution made. It ignores the value of volunteers in creating a vibrant civil society – dynamic, engaged and self-reliant.
To attempt to put a money figure on the value of volunteerism cheapens and undermines the basic concept. Volunteering is rich and diverse. Volunteering is not just about organizing hundreds or thousands of volunteers for large events like the world soccer or the Olympics. It is thousands of volunteers in minor league sports, shelters for the homeless, giving aid to seniors, holding hands in a hospice or cleaning up a local stream bed. It is spontaneous acts of kindness like helping a neighbor shovel their walk, coming to the aid of a stranded motorist or helping an elderly person cross a busy street. These large and small acts, given freely, are what bind communities together. Volunteering is helping, not hiring; giving, not taking; contributing, not counting.
Some believe putting a large amount on volunteering does no harm. This is wrong. It insidiously undermines the true value of volunteerism. Like the term “mandatory volunteerism,” it distorts the meaning and spirit of volunteering. We want motivated, not mandatory volunteers. We want willing, not “paid” volunteers.
Add up the hours if you must but do not be blinded by the numbers. The value of volunteering is much deeper, much more fulfilling and much more important in contributing to a healthy and vibrant community than money can ever measure.
In the end, we cannot and should not put a monetary value on volunteering. How can we put a monetary value on ordinary people doing extraordinary things?
He or she who serves almost always has greater reward far more than the one being served. Life is full of service to God and service to mankind. Choose to serve and serve willingly, wholeheartedly and freely. –Ed Arcton
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