Is volunteering in your portfolio?

by Barrie Hopson on November 2, 2011 · 0 comments

in Motivated Skills,Networking,Starting a portfolio career

Whenever I answer the question ‘And what do you do?’, I always include at least one of the roles that I have that consists of unpaid work. I think that it gives a rounder picture of who you are and what is important to you. My 2 roles are around chairing my local residents association and running 10k races for charity.

We have always emphasised to anyone who is job seeking, be that for a portfolio career or not, that is crucial that you are seen as someone who is doing something of value. The skills that you exercise or indeed develop in these roles as well as being satisfying and hopefully motivational in themselves may also be ones relevant to paid work. We were intrigued therefore to see that LinkedIn is now letting  users list their public-spirited deeds and philanthropic efforts alongside job experience under a new section called “Volunteer Experience and Causes.” According to a survey by LinkedIn, now more than ever, volunteer experience is valuable information that could give job hunters the boost they need to get promoted or hired.

LinkedIn randomly selected and surveyed 1,942 people and found that a vast majority of them–89%–had volunteer experience. But this unpaid work went largely unreported. Only 45% of the respondents actually reported volunteer experiences on their career profiles. Survey responders said they didn’t think such experiences would count for much, and they didn’t think managers would be interested. The thought to add that experience to their profile hadn’t occurred to some of them.   But when the question was turned around, 41% of the same people polled said they considered volunteer experience as valuable as paid work experience. And 20% of the hiring managers polled in the survey admitted to making hiring decisions based on volunteer work.

Nicole Williams, Connection Director at LinkedIn, says that recruiters are now looking at volunteer experience as real work experience if job candidates are able to talk about their achievements while volunteering in a quantifiable way. For example, talking about how you grew the Twitter following for an event you managed as an event coordinator would make a strong impression. The goal is to translate the description of your volunteer work into the vocabulary of employment, Williams says.

So – test it out now – in private.  ‘And what do you do?’ ……….

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