It’s a busy life. You’re working hard at building your career, balancing your family obligations, staying in shape, pursuing hobbies and finding time to walk the dog. Is it really worth trying to find an extra few hours each week to volunteer for an organization in your community? Yes! There are many benefits to volunteering, not the least of which is that those volunteer hours can contribute to job satisfaction and can open new horizons in your career.
According to The 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering, and Participating, 47% of Ontarians over the age of 15 volunteer on average 164 hours per year. In the past, volunteering was seen to be a pastime for people who were retired or had lots of time on their hands. This is no longer the case. Not-for-profit organizations recognize that today’s volunteers are busy people who are looking for volunteer opportunities which not only allow them to make a contribution to their community, but also provide them with personal growth and make good use of their time and talents.
Browsing through volunteer postings listed with a local volunteer bureau will provide you with a range of possibilities. You will find opportunities in areas from education and research to sports and recreation. You can organize or supervise events, fundraise, teach, educate, mentor or sit on committees or boards. Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of encouraging employees to volunteer in the community. Volunteering has many benefits which are reflected in the workplace in the form of increased interpersonal, communication and organizational skills.
Volunteering can contribute to your career development in many ways:
- Grow Your Network. Many volunteer opportunities provide the chance to build relationships with people from a wide range of fields and professions. Make new connections and increase your contact base!
- Learn New Skills and Explore New Possibilities. Want to try something new or wondering if a particular career direction is right for you? Volunteering gives you a chance to test new waters or gain skills in areas which aren’t part of your regular workday.
- Use Your Skills in New Ways. Expand your reach, stretch yourself. Maybe you can put together a great presentation at work, but you’d really like to try your hand at writing a newsletter….
- Get to know your community. Especially if you’re new to the area, but even if you’ve lived here all your life, volunteering can give you new insight into neighbourhoods, demographics and the heartbeat of your community.
- Refresh, renew, recharge your passion. Spending a little time each week pursuing a passion, making a difference and creating positive change can go a long way towards refueling your energy and enthusiasm for your job. Come back to your desk feeling revitalized, optimistic and ready to face the challenges of your workday.
- Build your resume. Does your resume reflect a person who lives a balanced life, takes an interest in the world beyond their job and is always looking for ways to grow? A good volunteer history adds depth and breadth to your resume and demonstrates that you are an employee who comes with value added!