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Volunteering Helps You Get Your Dream Job

Want to volunteer your skills with social impact organizations around the world? Check out MovingWorlds.org

MovingWorlds.org co-founder Mark Horoszowski manages the global platform connecting people who volunteer on worthwhile projects around the world.  Mark recently wrote this great article on volunteering which appeared in his blog and in The Huffington Post.


Good for the World, Good for You – This Infographic Shows How Volunteering Can Help You Find and Get Your Dream Job

Finding and earning your dream job is no easy journey, but it turns out that doing good for the world might be your golden ticket.

Over the past few years, we’ve spoken with hundreds of volunteers, hiring managers, recruiters, and career coaches to explore the theory that volunteering can help people get their dream job in any sector: public, private, or non-profit. We’ve complimented our qualitative stories with quantitative research to show that volunteering helps you at all the main steps of your career path:

  1. Identifying your passions and career calling
  2. Building critical skills and making your resume stand out
  3. Helping you ace the interview and hiring process

Our team is incredibly eager to show this research as it represents a true win-win: Some of the biggest challenges facing this earth are skills-related challenges, meanwhile people benefit by contributing their skills to global issues.

“No matter the position I’m interviewing for, I look specifically for volunteer experience – it shows me that the person has passion, thinks beyond him/herself, and has the ability to take initiative. In short, it shows me the person will be a better team member.” – Mary M, Leadership Development Professional at Fortune 50 Company

In summary, our research shows that people should be pickier about the way they engage in volunteering by making sure their time and talents are actually needed – not just their physical presence. In fact, we found that volunteers are more engaged, deliver more value to organizations, and stay longer if they donate their real talents as opposed to their muscles. In doing so, they also tend to experience “career enlightenment”.

However, there appears to be a right and wrong way to both volunteer AND communicate your experience on your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter. The following infographic shows you why and how volunteering your skills, especially on a dedicated project like an international volunteering trip, can help you find and get your dream job. It is also full of useful tips about how to choose a project and how to talk about your volunteer experience during the interview process for public, private, or governmental jobs.

Volunteering Can Help You Identify Your Dream Job

Beyond helping you understand your strengths, being purposeful about your volunteer work can also help you learn more about specific industries, gain experience working on different types of teams, and gain exposure to what it’s like to work inside different sizes of organizations. The combination of these can help you refine what and where your dream job is. In fact, 95% of career advisers agreed that volunteering “brings clarity to the job search”, and 76% strongly agreed that it made you “more likely to get your dream job”.

“If you’re thinking of making a career change years down the road, consider volunteering now to lay a foundation for the future. It helps you identify your real strengths, build a bigger network, and explore what truly motivates you. You’ll look back and be glad you had the foresight to plan early.” – Brad Waters, Founder of Brad Waters Coaching and Consulting

There is a great article in the Harvard Business Review that hits to the theory as to why this is true: Profession and Purpose

Volunteering Can Improve Your Resume and Help You Stand Out

This was one of the most interesting areas in our research… We found that most recruiters spend less than 60 seconds looking at a resume, and experienced recruiters spend even less – one recruiter shared that she spends less than 30 seconds per resume. Only 30.4% felt that candidates with international skills-based volunteering experience stand out.

So what do they look for? They focus their few seconds of attention on REAL work experience that tells a “cohesive story” about why you are applying for a job and deserve to get it. While recruiters tend to agree that volunteering makes you a more interesting candidate (54%), the slight majority DO NOT look specifically for it.

In other words, while recruiters don’t look for volunteer experience, our research hints that if it is communicated the right way, it makes your resume “stand out”. However, one anonymous recruiter told us that “a resume with too much volunteer experience is a negative thing if the person is applying for a for-profit company, even if that company has a history of good social responsibility”.

Recruiters did agree that there is a “best” way to position your volunteer experience, and it’s probably not what you expect.

“If you have completed meaningful projects, include it as real work experience, not in a ‘volunteer or interest’ section. Call it ‘Pro Bono consulting’ and articulate the situation, task, action, and result – just as you would a normal job.” – Katie Kross, author of Profession and Purpose

Your skills-based volunteer experience should help you round out your resume and tell a recruiter that you have the skills and experience needed for it, as well as a passion for the industry. As an example, if you are a finance professional looking to get into the tech industry, like Google, volunteering finance skills at a tech nonprofit or a tech startup can help show your passion for tech. Or, perhaps you’re a program manager at a tech company and want to get into global development at the Gates Foundation. In this second case, having volunteered overseas for an extended length of time with a similar type of beneficiary organization will prove that you have the skills and field experience to earn a position.

Volunteering Can Help You While You Interview

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of managers that get excited when candidates have real volunteer experience – 66% specifically look for it and strongly value it. Similar to career advisers and recruiters, they agreed that “day of labor” style volunteering didn’t add much value. Instead they emphasized that people who engaged in skills-based projects for a specific cause “stood out as more interesting candidates because they are likely to be better team members”.

“International experience (of any kind, personal or professional) leads to a greater life experience, which then leads to a greater awareness of needs. In my experience, candidates who have these things then have a greater ability to innovate.” – Harry Weiner, Co-founder and Partner at On-Ramps

Similar to on your resume, volunteer work is only interesting it if demonstrates that you took initiative and delivered meaningful results. Anecdotally, we also feel that managers value volunteering for another reason – many felt that it involved “transferring skills to others”, and this resonated as being very valuable as it showed you had prior experience with coaching and developing others.

Why is Volunteering Experience Valued so Highly?

Along the entire candidate screening and hiring journey, volunteering your skills simply shows that you take initiative, are more selfless, and truly value your professional skills. Managers equate this to mean that you are more likely to be a better team member and deliver results.

“In every situation – from financial to creative positions – I look at a candidate’s volunteer history. It’s a good indication of their passion, leadership and problem solving abilities.” Julian Lorentz, Owner at Awakening Visuals

Indeed, we saw that managers agreed or strongly agreed that skills-based volunteering, especially in international environments, was a great way to develop skills needed to succeed:

  • Collaboration: 93.8%
  • Communication: 97%
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ): 89.3%
  • Grit: 80%
  • Innovation: 70%
  • Leadership: 90.3%
  • Problem Solving: 90.3%

However, managers were quick to note that “not all volunteer experiences are created equal”. First and foremost, managers are most interested “in finding quality people with demonstrated skills… volunteering doesn’t automatically mean you are either of these. It has to be the right type of volunteering project”.

An Important Caveat

As an organization with a mission of accelerating the impact of changemakers around the world, we would like to add the caveat that volunteering should be approached as selflessly as possible. Our research should not be used to motivate people to volunteer just for the sake of professional gain… In fact, our research shows that people should start their volunteering endeavor by auditing their skills, formalizing their goals, and then searching for an organization that specifically needs their skills. Groups like MovingWorlds, Catchafire, and LinkedIn For Good can all help you find the perfect placement. Done improperly, volunteering your skills might make your resume look better, but it can harm the organization you are trying to support.

In fact, a notable number of respondents felt that volunteering did NOT even belong on your resume at all and were quick to add comments that if they felt volunteer experiences were engaged only for professional gain, it would negatively impact the candidate.

In Summary

Our research shows that volunteering can indeed help you in all steps of your career journey, from identifying your passion to standing out in the hiring process regardless of your career ambitions. However, volunteer experience doesn’t automatically launch you past other candidates, and in fact, it can even detract from your resume. One of the senior level managers we spoke with best summarized this point when he shared that

“When I’m looking for someone to join my team, the recipe is actually pretty simple… I want the person to have the required skills, I want to know the person has passion for our company and industry, and I want proof that the person will be an effective team member and the potential to be a long-term contributor, and hopefully, a leader… the right type of volunteer experience can help with all of those, especially the latter, but it’s not a replacement for job experience… it’s more of an icing on the cake situation. But when you’re looking for the best cake, icing is pretty @%&$ important!”

It is our contention that in this globally-connected and competitive job market, the more connections you’ve made, skills you’ve practiced, and experiences you have, the more you stand out. And, considering some of the world’s biggest challenges are propagated by a lack of access to skills, we also live in a time when doing good for the world can help you get ahead, and is good for your health, too!

If you have additional insights on the topic or care about it, we’d love to talk to you. Find us on Twitter or contact us.

This post originally appeared on the MovingWorlds blog and is reposted with permission.

This page contains materials from The Huffington Post and/or other third party writers. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”) has not selected or reviewed such third party content and it does not necessarily reflect the views of PwC. PwC does not endorse and is not affiliated with any such third party. The materials are provided for general information purposes only, should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors, and PwC shall have no liability or responsibility in connection therewith.

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An international corporate volunteering program can help your business

Mark Horoszowski, writing for Devex Impact, a global initiative by Devex and USAID in partnership with top international organizations and private industry leaders, examines how an international corporate volunteering program can help a business grow into new, growing markets and assist in staff recruitment and retention.

Why your company needs an international corporate volunteering program

By Mark Horoszowski

06 February 2015

The current state of the global economy shows that businesses have immense opportunity — not only by expanding into booming markets, but also by helping develop the economic potential of underdeveloped markets.

It was evident at the 2015 World Economic Forum, where “the stars of the show were from the private sector … people and business are stepping in where government is failing,” according to Richard Edelman, the president and CEO of Edelman.

One of the ways that companies are stepping up is by bringing the skills of their employees to bear through corporate volunteering programs.

corporate volunteering

One of the ways businesses can help develop the economic potential of underdeveloped markets is by bringing the skills of their employees to bear through corporate volunteering programs.

A great example of this is Microsoft’s presence in 17 countries across Africa with its 4Afrika initiative. By helping develop skills, increasing access to technology and supporting innovation, the tech giant is working towards its goal to empower every African to turn their ideas into a reality, which in turn can help their community, their country or even the continent at large.

Originally, 4Afrika focused on hosting educational events for students and entrepreneurs, funding startups, and providing technology grants. But as the program grew, Microsoft realized it had more to offer than cash and products. In 2014 the company started to contribute its most valued asset — its people — to volunteer their skills with nonprofits, startups, schools, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

In doing so, the 4Afrika program has demonstrated that an effective skills-based volunteering engagement — we call it experteering — can accelerate the progress of local organizations, can help increase the economic opportunity within a country, and can provide an invaluable learning experience to the volunteer. Microsoft is not alone in this realization.

There are three well-documented forces that highlight why corporations should embrace international corporate volunteering programs, and help explain why the programs are growing at a rate of 150 percent:

1. How corporations benefit from international corporate volunteering.

The stated benefits of international corporate volunteering programs can be traced all the way to the bottom line. While early benefits of these ICV programs tout recruiting and retention benefits, new research shows that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Recruiting and Retention

Indeed, the recruiting and retention benefits are massive. Considering the cost of replacing an employee can be equal to 150 percent of their salary, more should definitely be done to retain top employees. Research by Points of Light showed that 90 percent of its companies saw a drop in turnover after implementing skills-based volunteer programs. Benefit Group reported that its turnover dropped from 22 percent to 7 percent after implementing its ICV program.

Leadership Development

According to recent research by The Conference Board of CEOs, a lack of globally-minded leaders is a leading concern for CEOs. Corporations have responded by increasing their investment in leadership development by as much as 15 percent year-over-year. Increasingly, leadership development programs are looking to experiential programs that provide true growth opportunities.

A great research summary by McKinsey explains why experience is so important: “Even after very basic training sessions, adults typically retain just 10 percent of what they hear in classroom lectures, versus nearly two-thirds when they learn by doing.”

More than any other benefit, leadership development is recognized as a primary outcome of every report we’ve seen on ICV programs.

Performance and Engagement

In a program that we supported for Microsoft, both the participants and their managers shared that the program noticeably improved leadership-related skills, and 100 percent of the managers would permit other team members to participate. A little time away from the job doing relevant and meaningful work appeared to result in employees returning more engaged and higher-performing.

Additional research from George Washington University found that beyond “stimulating new insights,” international corporate volunteer “programs are a better investment than businesses school leadership programs, both in terms of cost and diversity of learning.”

Indeed, companies should give their employees time to travel and volunteer, and pay them to do it.

Innovation

While slightly more challenging to measure, program managers of ICV programs state innovation as one of the leading reasons to justify its expense. Not only does volunteering in geographic areas of strategic interest provide unique insights that can’t be taught in a textbook, it also provides unique customer insight, which can lead to new product and marketing developments. In addition it fosters engagement, which is proven to improve on-the-job performance.

According to RealizedWorth: “For companies where employees were more engaged than not, their profitability jumped by 16 percent, general productivity was 18 percent higher than other companies, customer loyalty was 12 percent higher, and quality increased by 60 percent.”

2. Why employees demand international volunteering opportunities.

Beyond the obvious desire to see the world, international exposure is a right of passage for up and coming business leaders. Harvard Business Review consistently writes about the value of international experiences for business leaders. In fact, of employees aged 25-34, more than 5 percent plan to relocate overseas to gain international exposure. In a recent article on the Society of Human Resource Management titled “Developing 21st Century Global Leaders in 2015,” the SHRM foundation was quoted saying, “to be effective, the leaders of tomorrow must be able to collaborate while navigating cultural, regional and political differences.”

Beyond global experience, skilled-volunteering also acts as a tool to recruit top talent. According to research published by Net Impact, an average of 75 to 80 percent of respondents prefer to work for a company known for its social responsibility, 53 percent of working professionals state that the ability to make an impact is essential to on-the-job happiness.

Perhaps more telling was that 35 percent of students would take a pay cut to work at a company committed to CSR and 78 percent said money “was less important to them than personal fulfillment.”

3. How skills-based volunteering is building a better world.

According to the World Economic Forum, one of the leading barriers to progress is a “lack of access to quality talent”. This “skills gap” is becoming so large, that in some places like Brazil and India, it is being considered the leading barrier to progress.

In a recent campaign we participated in with Devex, Peace Corps and other leading global development organizations called #DoingMore, participants shared stories about how skills-based volunteering was:

    1. Essential to building skills of change-makers, like the MySkills4Afrika program which used volunteers to teach program management best-practices to startups and social enterprises working out of iHUB.
    2. Solving complex technical, creative, and/or business problems facing organizations, like the Microsoft Leaders in Action program which consulted with Kenya Red Cross to optimize its use of existing technology as a way to improve operations and measure impact.
    3. Addressing systemic issues by connecting skilled-volunteers not only to small, resource-strapped organizations, but also to international NGOs and even governmental institutions.
    4. Accelerating projects that lack human capital by bringing in skilled volunteers for very specific tasks.
    5. Empowering job creators by connecting skilled-volunteers to the most under-resourced organizations that also have the most potential to create jobs and end poverty.

Perhaps more than any business activity other than core operations, international corporate volunteering programs have massive potential to create positive business outcomes, positive personnel outcomes, and positive global development outcomes.

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