Working for Good


Reaping a harvest from the seeds planted in others

Employers can hire anyone to manage, but it takes a unique set of skills to lead. That is why organizations are assessing leadership potential in more creative ways, as IQ and advanced degrees on their own no longer guarantee successful employment. However, demonstrating high levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) such as self-awareness, motivation, empathy and influence can show you have abilities that go beyond what can be taught in a classroom.

These skillsets not only manifest on-the-job, but can also take root in the work you do outside of the office to help those in need. Unpaid experiences including volunteer work, church committees, and community activities often contain overlooked yet valuable transferrable skills. Soft skills like critical thinking, decision-making, and problem solving, can develop from having worked to organize a local election for your homeowners’ association, or even in initiating partnerships with vendors and providers for your church’s health fair.

This is great news for the stay-at-home mom returning to work, or even the new graduate who has led student groups on campus. Being able to creatively communicate how any skills used in these nontraditional work settings can be an asset to an employer may help put you on the fast track for career success. For example, these experiences may speak to your ability to effectively navigate business relationships, handle complex negotiations, or lead high-priority projects.

Here are five ideas on how to blossom into your career by illustrating leadership experience from past or current volunteer activities:

  1. List relevant volunteer experiences alongside paid professional ones on your resume if both contribute to your desired career outcomes.
  2. Quantify your achievements to validate the scope and depth of your abilities such as tracking the total donations you have raised or the percentage of students you have mentored that go on to graduate from high school.
  3. Ask church, civic, and community leaders to write letters of recommendation detailing the impact of your contributions on local programs or initiatives.
  4. Volunteer your services pro bono to generate awareness, gain experience, or collect success stories to kick off a new freelance or consulting business.
  5. Consider serving on a nonprofit board or committee to further finetune your leadership and project management skills.

While giving back should never be a selfish thing, there should be no shame in reaping a harvest from the seeds you have sown in others. Write us and let us know if you have enjoyed the fruits of your labor by incorporating these or any similar career development strategies.

CareerAshlie JamesComment