5 Reasons Why Volunteering this Holiday Season is Good For Your Career

The holiday season is about spending time with family and friends, indulging in warm, rich seasonal treats, and giving to the ones we love. And so, it’s never so clear than during the holidays—as we tie ribbons around our boxes and bags—how privileged we are, and how important it is to pay-it-forward to those in need.

Whether you cuddle love-starved puppies at an animal shelter, wield a hammer for Habitat for Humanity, or mentor at-risk kids, I’d wager to guess that most of us believe that helping a worthy cause is an altruistic and compassionate thing to do. Of course, life gets busy, and though we may have the best of intentions to help, sometimes our individual priorities take precedence.

Here’s the thing: Donating your time and efforts this holiday season doesn’t need to be counter-productive to your other priorities. There are many benefits to volunteering that can align with personal and professional goals—making you a happier, healthier person for having helped. You can help other people and help yourself. Here are five ways that volunteering can help to grow your career.

[bctt tweet="5 Reasons Why Volunteering Can Help to Grow Your Career, by @zimmerbugg"]

Why volunteering is good for your career:

1) Volunteer work can lead to a job.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers have a 27% higher likelihood of finding employment after being out of work than non-volunteers. How can volunteering help you get a job? It indicates a number of “softer” qualities that are highly attractive to company leadership, such as dedication, and thinking beyond oneself. Experience gained from volunteering looks great on a resumé, and can potentially be a filler for unwanted gaps. If you pursue a volunteer experience that is relevant to the line of work you’re interested in, of course that can only help. Still, the community involvement alone—demonstrating that you care to make a more meaningful impact with your spare time than putting in a dent in your Netflix queue—demonstrates value to a company.[bctt tweet="People who volunteer have a 27% higher likelihood of finding employment, says @zimmerbugg"]

2) Volunteering can help you make new connections.

Volunteering is a great way to expand your network and connect with highly-motivated individuals of similar interests. Because it often means branching outside of your professional industry, it’s likely that these people will come from a variety of backgrounds, and now you have connections and resources to inquire into any of these. As 80% of job opportunities are not posted, and 70% are found through networking, these connections could prove powerful down the line as you look to advance or change your career.

For tips on building your professional network and leveraging it toward new career opportunities, check out this blog post: 10 Tips for Networking Your Way to a New Job.[bctt tweet="Volunteering expands your network, connecting you w/ people of similar interests, says @zimmerbugg"]

3) Volunteering can help you to develop new skills.

As this infographic shows, 87% of people who said volunteering helped their careers believed it improved their people-/teamwork skills, and 75% said it strengthened time-management skills. Are there career skills that you know you need to bolster to get to the next level in your career? Perhaps you want experience in project management or leading a team. You can seek volunteer opportunities that will challenge you to develop in the areas that you want to grow.[bctt tweet="Seek volunteer opportunities that will challenge you to grow, says @zimmerbugg"]

4) Volunteering can help you maintain healthy stress levels.

A recent study commissioned by UnitedHealthcare stated that 76% of people who volunteered in the year prior said that volunteering made them feel healthier, and 78% reported lower stress. Unsurprisingly, high stress levels correlate with dampened creativity, poorer decision-making, and declined performance at work, not to mention the emotional negativity that can wear on your own engagement with your work and on your coworkers’ experiences working with you.[bctt tweet="78% of people who volunteer report feeling less stressed, says @zimmerbugg"]

5) Volunteering boosts confidence.

Seeing the results of your own positive impact can be an amazing feeling. In this way, volunteer work can help to supercharge your sense of pride and self-identity. In the same UnitedHealthcare study, 96% of people reported an enriched sense of life purpose when volunteering. This confidence and conviction can only serve you as you advance in your career.[bctt tweet="96% of people who volunteer report a greater sense of life purpose, says @zimmerbugg"]

Giving back is, of course, the best reason of all to volunteer this holiday season. That said, paying-it-forward seems to pay-back by default; I don't think anyone has ever said that they've become a lesser person for having been generous in their goodwill. Researchers at the London School of Economics found that the odds of being “very happy” rise 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for those who volunteer bi-weekly. Among weekly volunteers, 16% experienced a jump in happiness comparable to having an income of 75-100K versus 20K. Even if your career doesn't grow as a result of your having volunteered, it's clear the cheerful feelings you experience may make you feel like it did.[bctt tweet="The odds of being 'very happy' rise 12% for those who volunteer bi-weekly - @zimmerbugg"]

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Photo credit: Rambling Dream via Flickr cc