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October's Steer Your Career

Oct 4, 2011

Volunteering Will Save Your Career (Or Put You In A New One)

BY Nidhi Subbaraman
Sep 7, 2011

LinkedIn’s new “Volunteer Experience and Causes” feature, launching today, encourages users to tout their selfless deeds to land better jobs. And a survey of users of the social media service suggests employers prefer do-gooders.

Starting today, LinkedIn will let 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 the social network, 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 their philanthropy 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, tells Fast Company that hiring managers are 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.

Read more here.