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  • Writer's pictureLori A. Jazvac, MRW

Volunteerism: A Vital Tool for Community Leadership and Resume Building

National Volunteer Recognition Week takes place from April 23rd to April 29th. This week honours and celebrates dedicated community leaders and professionals of all walks of life who promote goodwill and responsible citizenship through volunteerism.

As a volunteer and active member of Career Professionals of Canada, I value the importance of volunteering to raise awareness, contribute and share knowledge and resources while networking with fellow career professionals to stay informed about best career service practices and changing labour market trends.

Since 2013, I have been serving as a regular blog contributor and assisting with the planning of the annual CareerPro Conference. These initiatives, in turn, allow me to learn, grow, and contribute while delivering service excellence to clients.

I customize numerous resumes each week for jobseekers in different fields and industries. Volunteerism is becoming a critical element in helping professionals develop astute leadership and collaboration skills, but also building solid resume experience with highly marketable skill sets in today's demanding labour market.

Volunteering: A Gateway to Fostering New Ideas and Positive Transformation

Employers value volunteering as a vital part of leadership and skill development. Integrating meaningful volunteer work – whether twice a week or even once a month – can demonstrate to employers and others the significant causes that you support, your contributions, and added value to the community.

Volunteerism ignites ideas and is an empowering driver of change for all professionals and scholars, even fueling possible employment opportunities and robust networks. Contributing your time and energy to enhancing community initiatives will also promote a sense of accomplishment towards driving change.

Examples of Community Leadership Delivering Robust Results

Through astute volunteering efforts, many initiatives have improved lives and created enriching opportunities for individuals and businesses.

Recently, I designed a resume for a client in the packaging sector who leverages her team leadership skills to volunteer as a Foster Coordinator to secure safe and peaceful homes for dogs -- a cause she is truly passionate about.

Another client in the environmental sector implemented “green strategies” to reduce the office’s ecological footprint and promote sustainability. She also regularly volunteered at a local festival, which earned her an award for driving empowering change in the community for children and families.

I also work with executives who serve on various committees, integrating their leadership skills and expertise to formulate strategic solutions to improving operational efficiencies, business growth, and reducing long-term costs.

An ambitious client seeking to transition into the human resources field is volunteering at a local hospital to gain experience in her chosen field while increasing her networks and helping others.

Volunteering to Bridge Work Experience and Skill-Related Gaps

While the above are just some examples of volunteering in the community, volunteerism can be an effective way to bridge any experience and skill–related gaps, especially for those returning to the workforce or making a career transition.

All experience counts – paid or unpaid. Volunteerism reflects the ability to give your time, effort, and passion to a cause that you genuinely care about.

The point for jobseekers: do not discount your volunteering experience. Rather, strive to continue making a difference in building your community through generating creative ideas and strategies to improve the quality of lives.

Whether it’s animal welfare, arts and culture, economic empowerment, education, health/wellness, human rights or social services, we can all do our part to build a stronger community and support the values we believe in.

Here are some tips to maximize your volunteer experience:

* Stay connected with events in your community.

-- Read the paper, view local bulletin boards at the library, and network with other professionals to find out about volunteering leads. Charity Village offers some rewarding volunteer opportunities in the non-profit sector.

* Identify your driving motivators and the goals that you want to achieve from volunteering. Taking small steps will gradually produce bigger outcomes.

* What causes do you support? Get involved in fostering change. Volunteerism adds more meaning and growth when you are passionate about championing a cause that really matters to you.

* Identify volunteering opportunities through associations. What associations or organizations do you belong to? Some associations also offer accreditation for volunteering, which may lead to other opportunities.

* Consider volunteering with a friend and invite others to volunteer in the quest to help others and promote a nurturing learning and helping experience.

* Carve out a suitable time to volunteer. Are you interested in volunteering once a week, once a month, or seasonally?

* Stick to your volunteering commitments. Show up on time, give 100% effort, and remain dedicated to volunteering. Know that your efforts are well-respected and appreciated.

* Monitor and evaluate your goals and progress. Be proud of your volunteering contributions and feature them on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

* Remain flexible and aligned with the organization's needs and objectives. Think creatively and be willing to take on bigger projects that foster continuous improvement in a key area. Volunteer roles may change from time to time.

* Identify areas where you could improve your volunteer experience and influence to expand the scope of your role.

* Lead by example. Encourage others to devote some of their time to volunteering. Spread the word about the unique value of volunteerism and serving others.

For assistance with resume building and volunteering leads, contact Creative Horizons Communications or visit Happy National Volunteer Recognition Week!

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